Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

review by Maryom

Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway has been called in after bones are discovered during building works for an underground restaurant in Norwich. She's assuming that they'll be old bones of interest only to historians - but, as you'd expect as this is a crime novel, she's wrong. 

Meanwhile the police led by DCI Harry Nelson have 'underground' problems of their own - a man is reported having disappeared in the vicinity of a hole which suddenly appeared in a road, and, in a separate case, a local rough sleeper has gone missing, perhaps gone 'underground'. As they follow up on rumours, the network of tunnels left behind after chalk-mining under Norwich come to figure prominently in enquiries, and the bones discovered by Ruth take on a much more sinister interpretation.

This is the ninth 'outing' for Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson, and it hasn't lost any of the pull of the earlier books - in fact, I think that helped along by their personal stories the series actually gets more gripping. I've come to the series late, and, despite my best intentions to start at Book 1(The Crossing Places) and read my way through sequentially, I'm darting about the ongoing story of Ruth and Harry in a rather higgledy-piggledy order. It doesn't really matter though - the 'crime' aspect of each book is self-contained, and I've found it nice to be able to jump ahead and find out where Ruth and Harry's relationship is heading before going back and reading how it developed. I'm not entirely sure how I want it to progress - Ruth I feel deserves a happy ending; Harry I'm less convinced about.

Meanwhile there are crimes to solve.This time, everything is pointing towards the tunnels under Norwich as the location of nefarious goings-on. Seemingly unconnected events join up in a way that is credible rather than far-fetched, and there's quite enough in the twists and turns department to keep the reader guessing. The tunnels seem fascinating but its one story location I shan't be hurrying to visit. Griffiths is excellent at capturing atmosphere but whereas I've previously loved her windswept marshes, I wasn't so happy about narrow tunnels. Like Ruth, I'm not happy with small, claustrophobic spaces or people who merrily talk about the tonnes of rock above one's head ... Fortunately most of the action takes place above ground in King's Lynn, in places I recognise from holiday visits there, and Norwich (which I must visit now) and there's a mention or two of lovely Wells next the Sea. I'm starting to think I should plan a little Galloway and Nelson-themed tour of Norfolk for summer, though preferably without any crime  :)

Maryom's review - 5 stars 
Publisher -
Genre - adult crime thriller

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