Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

First Sentence:  ‘This grave has lain undisturbed for over two thousand years.’
Archeologist Ruth Galloway and her daughter are invited to Italy by fellow archaeologist, and television host, Angelo Morelli to help identify bones found in a hillside town.   Fontana Liri was Angelo’s ancestral home and where his grandfather played an important part during the resistance movement of WWII.  But if the war is over, why are threats, and attempts being made on Angelo’s life?  In England, DI Harry Nelson learns of the impending release of Micky Webb, a man he put in prison. Is Micky now threatening Harry, his family, and pregnant wife?  Still, a natural disaster sends Harry to Italy to ensure the safety of his former lover, Ruth, and the daughter they produced together. 
Author’s notes can provide such fascinating information.  One should always take the time to read them.
There is an interesting juxtaposition of the focus on religion and Catholicism, and relationships involving infidelity.  And infidelity does play a major role in this book, and series.  In fact, it basically dominates the plot of the book. 
Griffiths runs the separate storylines of Ruth and Nelson in parallel and it works. One is never confused as to which plot thread is being addressed.  The story of Samer, the Syrian refugee is sad and typical of that which the Syrian people, many of whom are Catholics, are experiencing. 
The information about the history of the area in Italy is interesting.  The information regarding the positions in which people are buried in the church’s cemetery is even more so.  It also provides an interesting perspective on some Italians’ views toward the Roman evacuations--”There are too many Roman sites in Italy,’ says Angelo. ‘There are only two metro lines in Rome because whenever they start digging, they come up against another damn amphitheater.  The Romans are everywhere.’”
Ruth is a very real, very human character.  In spite of her intelligence and capabilities, she is almost painfully self-critical and self-deprecating.  Cathbad is a character one can’t help but like.  He’s a Druid who—“…views the rules as guidance only, and guidance for other people at that.”
There are a couple of wonderful literary references to make one smile—“Stop it, she tells herself, you’re not Miss Marple, this has nothing to do with you.”—and one which is very Sherlock Holmes—”Nelson tries to cast his mind back.  He remembers bloody Tim talking about something he called a memory house. Apparently, you have to go in and search through the rooms until you find the hidden memory.”  She also makes mention of reading Ian Rankin.
The disposition of the corpses, both in England and in Italy provides one another piece of historical information.  It’s one of those great “Who knew?” moments.
There is suspense, both in Italy and in England, and both are well done and include some good twists. However, one could say the book was primarily on relationships and infidelity, with a small percent on the mysteries, and a tiny percent on archeology.  
The Dark Angel” is not Griffith’s best book by far as the focus on the relationships has become tiresome.  Yes, there is a powerful cliff-hanger ending, but it may not be enough to ensure one will continue with the series. 

THE DARK ANGEL (Pol Proc-Ruth Galloway/Harry Nelson-Italy/England-Contemp) - Okay
      Griffiths, Elly – 10th in series
      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – May 2018


  1. Thanks for the thoughtful review. I'm glad you found some things to like about the book. It'll be interesting to see what Griffiths does next with the series, and whether the focus of it shifts back towards the actual mysteries.

    1. Thank you. My objective is to always given an honest opinion, pointing out the positive and negative I find.