Dr. Ruth Galloway's old university friend Dan Golding has died in a house fire. Still reeling from that news, Dan's death is put in an entirely different light when she receives a letter he wrote and posted to her just before he died. In the letter, Dan tells Ruth that he's made a great archaeological discovery, and that he's scared for his life.
When the department head at the university asks Ruth to come up to examine the bones Dan found, she packs up her eighteen-month-old daughter, Kate, and they (along with family friend Cathbad) make the journey to Blackpool, Lancashire-- home of Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson.
Once on campus, Ruth ignores the information about right-wing groups spouting hatred and racial slurs and focuses on the bones. Dan mentioned only one clue in his letter-- the Raven King. Ruth knows that this is an ancient name for King Arthur. Quick examination reveals a surprising fact about King Arthur, but when she returns a second time to examine them thoroughly, the bones have disappeared.
Nelson just happens to be in Blackpool visiting his mother. Naturally he gets drawn into the investigation, especially when it appears that Ruth and Kate may be in danger. Someone seems to be willing to kill to keep those bones a secret.
This is the fifth strong entry in the series about forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway. She's a rather plain, plump woman in her early forties who's a single working mother. She's the furthest thing from glamorous, but she's got a mind like a steel trap... especially now that she's devised a routine for Kate that means she can get some badly needed sleep, too. Yes, this is a series that is character rich: Ruth, Kate, Cathbad the Druid, DCI Harry Nelson, Nelson's gorgeous wife, and more. These are even characters that you can take sides over. You can tsk tsk over Ruth's indiscretion with Harry, or you can decide not to like Harry because, as a married man, he should've known better than to sleep with Ruth. You can take sides with the wronged wife, or you can decide that Mrs. Nelson is at fault for what Harry did. Or... you can just enjoy them all as adults who can and do make mistakes. These are people I'd want to meet in the evening down at the local pub. Share a pint, share the news, share our lives.
But there's a good mystery contained in these pages along with all the latest doings of those fully-fleshed characters, and some heart-in-your-throat high octane action. If you need anything else, just add in some fascinating information about King Arthur. Dr. Ruth Galloway knows her anthropology and archaeology, and I always appreciate learning from her.
Action, danger, history, a puzzling whodunit, and a fascinating cast of characters. Haven't read any of Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway mysteries? What's stopping you?
A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt © 2013
Hardcover, 400 pages
Forensic Archaeology, #5 Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery