Thursday, June 29, 2017

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

First sentence:  He shouldn’t really be driving:  they all know that.
DCI Harry Nelson has a new boss, with whom he’s not best pleased, and a missing person to find.  Could she have disappeared into one of the many chalk-mining tunnels beneath Norwich.  She wouldn’t be the only thing hidden there.  Anthropologist Ruth Galloway has been asked to investigate a set of human remains.  They’re not old, but they do appear to be the result of the body being boiled.
Griffiths does do a very good job of introducing one to most all of the relevant characters and their personalities.  How can one not love her descriptions—“From his name Ruth expected Quentin Swan to be camp and at least sixty.  In fact, the man who comes bursting in through the Guildhall doors is youngish and dark with horn-rimmed glasses.  He looks like a cross between Harry Potter and Dr. Who (David Tennant era).” [Reviewing from an early ARC, one hopes the correction was made to “Doctor Who”.]
It is nice to have odd bits of history included as it provides those lovely “ah-ha” moments and creates a bit of a pause before the action ramps up. …and then the murders begin.
Relationships play a significant role in the story.  Within the police, it is appreciated that they work as a full team, each with their own responsibilities.
The plotting of the actual mystery is well done.  There are very good connecting threats.  The theme of underground cities is fascinating as they have existed around the world throughout history.   One might, however, wish future stories to focus more on Ruth and her work.
Ruth is an appealing character living a complicated life.  Yet it is her moments of decisiveness and strength that shine through—“Joe decides her.  ‘Stay here,’ she barks at Ruth.  That does it.  Ruth isn’t going to be bossed about by a woman in tight trousers who things she’s Helen Mirren playing Jane Tennison.’ 
The Chalk Pit” is well done, although it spends nearly as much time on the various and complicated relationships as on the case and the resolution seemed very rushed. 

THE CHALK PIT (Pol Proc-Harry Nelson/Ruth Galloway-England-Contemp) – G+
      Griffiths, Elly – 9th in series
      Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – May 2017

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