The past two years have been busy for Dr. Ruth Galloway. She has a new job, a new home, and a new partner, and she's no longer the North Norfolk police's resident forensic archaeologist. But convicted murderer Ivor March is about to change all that.
DCI Nelson has always been convinced that March killed more women than he was charged with. March has now confirmed this and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried-- but only if Ruth will do the digging.
Curious but cautious, Ruth agrees. March tells her that he killed four more women who are buried near a village bordering the fens, an area said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travelers to their deaths. Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? Just what is he up to and why is Ruth so important to his plan?
There's nothing quite like waiting for each new Ruth Galloway mystery, getting your hands on it, and then sinking into the pages with the utmost pleasure. The Lantern Men is yet another strong addition to this excellent series; I hated it whenever life shouted at me and forced me to put the book down.
The legend of the lantern men is an excellent choice, both suited to the atmospheric landscape of the fens and to making readers look over their shoulders to see if anyone has crept up behind them. I've always said that this series has one of the absolute best cast of characters in fiction, but I felt the mystery was particularly strong with that old legend, serial killer groupies, and a murderer who's up to no good (even behind bars). There's plenty of misdirection, too, and I guessed wrong about which character was being targeted at the end, which is always a good thing due to all the crime fiction I read.
I don't know how Elly Griffiths does it, but she manages to balance her wonderful cast's comings and goings with the mystery so that readers don't feel short-changed in either aspect. Readers just walk into Ruth's new life and learn about all the changes that have occurred during the past two years as she's currently living them. The same with Nelson and Judy and Cathbad and the rest. If you've read other books in the series, you know that it's easy for these fictional characters to become just like friends and family-- you have to catch up with their lives every bit as much as you have to attempt to solve the mystery.
Once the mystery is solved, Ruth is making another change at book's end, but it should come as no surprise. Now comes the hard part: waiting until the next book comes out. Ah, but they're always worth the wait!
The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths
Quercus © 2020
Hardcover, 368 pages
Police Procedural, #12 Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery
Source: Purchased from Amazon UK.