WINNER OF THE 2016 CWA DAGGER IN THE LIBRARY.
Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they were recently buried, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands. The boiling might have been just a medieval curiosity – now it suggests a much more sinister purpose.
Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?
As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.
When I was a wee girl, ‘Judy Johnstone’ was going to be my ‘nom-de-plume’ when I became a famous writer so I was delighted to read the latest instalment in the adventures of my literary dopplelganger in The Chalk Pit, Elly Griffiths’ latest Ruth Galloway novel.
Another thing that delighted me was reading on Twitter that if Elly Griffiths was casting Dr Ruth Galloway, that she’d love to have Ruth Jones – and that’s EXACTLY how I see Ruth so I was delighted. The release of the latest Galloway novel has been eagerly awaited by many of her fans and they will definitely not be disappointed by The Chalk Pit
I love Ruth’s character: her worries and issues are so well-drawn. The school-gate politics, her creepy boss Phil and her complicated relationship with Nelson are all lightly handled – but done in such a way as to make the story feel truly ‘real’ and make us feel for her as she navigates some of these choppy waters. I love that this book fits perfectly into the crime genre – but manages to be a book that people who don’t love crime novels would also love at the same time. This is largely down to Elly Griffith’s skill in characterisation; Ruth definitely is a character that you’ll be rooting for.
This is definitely a mystery to get your teeth into. Firstly, Barbara Murray’s friend – aka Aftershave Eddie – reports her missing to Nelson after puzzling about her mysterious disappearance. Sam Foster-Jones a young mum of four also disappears into thin air and Dave Clough’s partner, Cassandra Blackstock vanishes after a play rehearsal. After this third woman disappears, the team begin to search for the connections to try and piece together the mystery.
A born-again Christian who runs a local mother’s group appears to have links with all the victims and this sets the team off on one investigation. Then when the story of the underground tunnels emerges it seems as if the past and the present are about to collide for DS Johnson and her team.
This book drew me in and kept me there. It was a satisfying blend of intriguing mystery and well developed characters that you actually care about and root for. Elly Griffiths skilful plate spinning means that it zips along at a great pace and its very difficult to put down. It’s safe to say that my marking took a hit last week as I raced to its exciting finish.
Some people label Elly Griffiths’ novels as as cosy crime, but I think that they’re the right mixture of familiarity and the unexpected. The Norfolk setting is fantastically realised and you get a real sense of where they’re from as you read these novels and drink in the atmosphere. Nine books in and I’m well and truly hooked. If you haven’t read them yet, you should begin straight away with the amazing The Crossing Places and I guarantee that you’ll be drawn in to Ruth’s world and race through them.
It looks absolutely gorgeous in my #OnTheShelfie and I can’t wait for number 10
Writer On The Shelf:
I’ll let Elly introduce herself in her own words. To find out more, head over to her gorgeous-looking website Elly Griffiths
My name’s Elly Griffiths, except it’s not really.
My real name is Domenica de Rosa and I’ve written four books under that name (see link above). I was born in London in 1963 and my family moved to Brighton when I was five. I loved Brighton and still do – the town, the surrounding countryside and, most of all, the sea. I went to local state schools and wrote my first book when I was a 11, a murder mystery set in Rottingdean, near the village where I still live. At secondary school I used to write episodes of Starsky and Hutch (early fan fiction) and very much enjoyed making my readers cry.
I did all the right things to become a writer: I read English at King’s College London and, after graduating, worked in a library, for a magazine and then as a publicity assistant at HarperCollins. I loved working in publishing and eventually became Editorial Director for children’s books at HarperCollins. All this completely put me off writing and it wasn’t until I was on maternity leave in 1998 that I wrote what would become my first published novel, The Italian Quarter.
Three other books followed, all about Italy, families and identity. By now we had two children and my husband Andy had just given up his city job to become an archaeologist. We were on holiday in Norfolk, walking across Titchwell Marsh, when Andy mentioned that prehistoric man had thought that marshland was sacred. Because it’s neither land nor sea, but something in-between, they saw it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife. Neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. As he said these words the entire plot of The Crossing Places appeared, full formed, in my head and, walking towards me out of the mist, I saw Dr Ruth Galloway. I didn’t think that this new book was significantly different from my ‘Italy’ books but, when she read it, my agent said, ‘This is crime. You need a crime name.’
And that’s how I became Elly Griffiths.
You should also follow her on Twitter to hear all about her books and hopefully get news of where she’s appearing in person