Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

First Sentence:  It is the hottest summer for years.
      
The Blackstock family has sold a large piece of land to a developer for homes.  Work comes to a halt when the crew unearths a World War II plane with the pilot still inside.  But not all is as it seems when forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway discovers that the pilot had been killed by a gunshot wound, and that the body belongs to Fred Blackstock who had been reported as having died at sea in a different plane.
      
This is the type of prologue that works.  It sets up the story, but is in chronological time with the rest.  Excellent descriptions put the reader in the location and sensing the heat wave which has encompassed region.  The sense of impending threat is palpable and is a nice contrast to the next scene, which has a positive excitement to it.
      
Griffiths creates wonderful characters, every one of them very real.  She also handles the relationships, even the awkward ones, very well.  Ruth is such an appealing character; the perfect combination of intelligent and professionally capable, yet personally somewhat insecure about her looks and parenting abilities.  Her daughter Kate is delightfully written without intruding on the story.  Kate’s father, DCI Nelson, is married to Michelle, which adds a nice level of complication.  A very interesting spanner is thrown into the lives of our characters.
      
Dialogue is so important and Griffiths does it very well, indeed.  “You’re exactly the sort of person who’s against competition,” says Nelson, putting away his camera.  “What sort of person’s that?”  “The sort of person who does well in competitions.”  Ruth’s brilliant, sardonic humor is also present throughout.
      
Well-written description paint mental pictures, enhancing the atmosphere…”Nelson’s not a fanciful man but, just for a second, he imagines the sky full of lumbering Second World War planes, rising into the clouds and heading out to sea.”  With Griffiths, the weather becomes an additional character to the story…”There’s a dull roaring in the distance.  Is that the wind or the sea?  She thinks of sea sprites and nixes and the ghosts of dead children singing under the sea.”
      
The Ghost Fields” focuses on the relationships of the characters, yet the plot takes us down a wonderfully twisted road, with excellent twists, a good resolution and a somewhat bittersweet ending. 

THE GHOST FIELDS (Trad Mys-Ruth Galloway-England-Contemp) – G+
Griffiths, Elly – 7th in series
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – May 2015

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