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Saturday, 10 September 2011

The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths

The synopsis reads: ' " Ruth shivers, not entirely from the cold.  Who would bury bodies here, in this inaccessible spot?  The bodies are bound, their hands tied behind their backs.
When bones are unearthed at the foot of a north Norfolk cliff, forensics expert Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson are put on the case.  The skeletons have lain there for decades, possibly since the war, and for all that time a hideous crime has been concealed.
When a body washes up on the beach, it becomes clear that someone wants the truth of the past to stay buried, and will go to any lengths to keep it that way.  Can Ruth and Nelson uncover the truth in time to stop another murder? " '

This is the first time that I have read an Elly Griffiths' book, and I believe that this is her 3rd one.  I know you should not judge a book by its cover, but I did just that.  The cover shows a rather dark shadow of a a house standing precariously at the sea's edge. If I am honest (and rather ashamed) to admit that I chose this book because of the the ethereal and supernatural look: think 'Rebecca', by Daphne Du Maurier and you get the idea.  However, I am glad I did...
   
The first few pages of chapter 1 promised to deliver a gripping story and solve a mystery spanning back to World War 2.  A group of archaeologists are scouring the beach using special equipment to measure the scale of coastal erosion.stumble across a cave in a cliff which on closer inspection appears to have human remains.  From here, the story gathers pace, and the reader is quickly introduced to the main characters:  Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson, and their supporting colleagues: DS Judy Johnson and DS Clough.  Ruth and Nelson have a shared history which remains a secret throughout the story.  Ruth's 6 month daughter, Kate, is married Nelson's daughter.  Ruth is a brilliant archaeologist who is completely dedicated to her work, and,(what appears to us) less so to her daughter.  Although this is  a murder "who dunnit" investigation, I think the author has raised lots of modern day issues without distracting from the story.  Issues such as single mums working, well Ruth is subject to many harsh comments that imply she should be at home looking after her baby.  I think DS Clough is responsible for this one!   Complicated marriages - Nelson is happily married to Michelle who he will not leave.  Religion, Nelson is a catholic and Cathbad (Ruth's close friend) is pagan.  Environment issues of coastal erosion: Jack Hastings, the MEP  lives in the house at sea's end, and is angry that the government will not do anything about coastal erosion because it does not care. 


Why I like this story?
It did not turn out to be 'gripping' in the correct meaning of the word, but I found this to be 'gripping' in a completely surprising way. I found the characters, the two main ones, Ruth and Nelson, to be incredibly strong and principled. To me, this way worked and rather than being enemies, as murder stories usually depict, this worked in their favour. Ruth's strength matched Nelson's softer (dare I say feminine) side. Nelson befriended those who he had suspected could be responsible for the murders of the German soldiers.  Getting to know them, such as Jack Hastings, his mother Irene Hastings, and at one point suspecting Jack's daughter, Clara. I was impressed and wondered if perhaps the police of today could adopt that technique?!   The 'perfect' couple became in essence, the 'perfect' crime busting duo!    To me they were the only characters in the  book and that is why I have only concentrated on them.  .



 
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This book is now for sale at £3.75. Excellent condition. Highly recommended.
 www.greenmetropolis.com/member.aspx?id=185127

2 comments:

  1. I remember seeing a poster advertising this on the tube and then, for the life of me, couldn't remember the name when I went book shopping later - so thank you!
    This sounds right up my alley and the way you've given your opinion on it really makes me want to go and buy it now... sigh, another one to put on the list... thanks ;P

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  2. Very well written review that tempts me to add yet another title to my Kindle!

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