Review published on March 10, 2017.
Elly Griffiths is one of the UK’s best crime writers and she has an award to prove it. Also, one of her biggest fans is Val McDermid, who certainly knows a thing or two about crime writing. Her prose and deft skill at being able to make the complicated seem simple has resulted in a thoroughly modern crime thriller series featuring Dr Ruth Galloway as the forensic archaeological expert and DCI Harry Nelson as a battle-hardened detective and leader of a great team. Elly Griffiths has created fantastic characters, a great backstory and plenty of human interest, and she has blended them into an ingenious story.
Bones have been found in one of the many chalk tunnels below Norwich. Dr Ruth Galloway has been called in to deal with the matter and any excavation and testing of the bones. She notes that the bones have been boiled, which is not something medieval, although it could be suggesting something far more serious.
Nelson is investigating the murder of Aftershave Eddie, a rough sleeper who always sleeps on the steps of the station. Is it a coincidence that he has been killed shortly after informing Nelson about Babs, one of the few female rough sleepers, who has gone missing. DS Judy Johnson is leading the investigation into Babs’ disappearance and she is getting to know a large number of rough sleepers in Kings Lynn during the search. As another murder victim also happens to be a rough sleeper, Nelson realises that finding out information is going to be a lot tougher.
When a local woman goes missing while her children watch the TV and await the arrival of their father, Nelson cannot find any clues as to where she has gone. As this is happening in full view of the press, he is aware that he is under pressure to get a result quickly.
The relationship between Galloway and Nelson, who have a child together, although he is still married with two adult children, is complicated to say the least. Things will not get any easier for these two, especially as they will come into contact through their work and their daughter, who still does not know she has older sisters. Galloway’s life gets more stressful, especially when her mother has a stroke and her daughter is asked to perform in a play.
Elly Griffiths’ characterisation is excellent and it makes her well-plotted stories even more enjoyable. This really is a fantastic crime series that continues to develop and gets better with every book.
Paul Diggett 5/5
The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths
Quercus 9781784296599 hbk Feb 2017