The Lantern Men (Dr Ruth Galloway) by Elly Griffiths

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The Lantern Men (Dr Ruth Galloway) by Elly Griffiths

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Category: Crime
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: It might be the twelfth book in the series but it's as clever and fresh as ever. We've a change of location this time - but don't worry, you're in safe hands.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384/10h15m Date: February 2020
Publisher: Quercus
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1787477537

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Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway. She's no longer providing assistance to the police and isn't even working at the University of North Norfolk. She's lecturing at Cambridge and has moved from her beloved Saltmarsh cottage to live with Dr Frank Barker in Cambridge. Her daughter, Katie, has settled into school better than she could ever have hoped and life is looking good. Settled. She can't help thinking about Harry Nelson, Katie's father, because Katie sees him regularly and there's a close relationship with his family. You might almost think that Ruth's life is settling down.

Life's looking up for Nelson, too. Ivor March has just been convicted of the murder of Jill Prendergast and Stacy Newman, whose bodies were discovered in his girlfriend's garden. There's a slight blot on the horizon in that Nelson is convinced that March also murdered Nicola Ferris and Jenny McGuire: there are too many similarities between these cases and the murders for which March has been convicted. Then March offers to tell Nelson where the bodies are buried, but there's a condition: Dr Ruth Galloway must do the excavation. Nelson would prefer not to bring Ruth into this, but March has the whip hand here. Unless Ruth agrees he won't divulge where the bodies are buried.

Sometimes the reviewing gods are kind, even considerate. I was offered a review copy of a book which I would cheerfully have bought in hardback - and that's not something which a book reviewer says very often. I have about half a dozen series which I would move heaven and earth to follow - and this is one of the best. Why?

Well, the writing is excellent. There are no fancy devices: this whole series is about brilliant stories told by an expert. The writing puts me in mind of the late, great Ruth Rendell who wrote books which you couldn't put down once you'd picked them up. Elly Griffiths is in exactly the same class. Then there's the location: North Norfolk. It's one of my favourite parts of the world and Griffiths has the knack of being able to transport me there effortlessly. Strangely enough, Nelson has never really taken to the area (one of his great failings in my view) but Ruth Galloway loves it. The Saltmarsh is in her blood.

The characterisation is perfect. If you've followed the series many of them will be familiar to you. Dave Clough is now an Inspector with his own team, based in King's Lynn. Judy Johnson's an Inspector too, but she's not moved, a fact which occasionally niggles her. DS Tanya Fuller is keen for promotion and there's almost rivalry with Judy Johnson if Tanya could ever sink to being so unprofessional. We have a newcomer, DC Tony Zhang, who might be a little too prone to allowing his personal history to intrude but looks to have promise.

It's the plot you want to know about, isn't it? Well, it's brilliant. There's just a little doubt that Ivor March is guilty, not just of the unsolved cases but of the two murders for which he's serving time. Quite a few people mention this, but not with any great conviction: after all, Nelson has no doubts, although Ruth Galloway reminds herself that he has been wrong before.

The ending is very satisfying - but all the clues were there had I spotted them. It was a cracker of a book and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If you'd like more from North Norfolk you might enjoy Steve Burrows' The Birder Murders. The earlier books in the series are well-worth reading.

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