A Room Full Of Bones by Elly Griffiths

A Room Full Of Bones by Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

When Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop, she finds the museum’s curator lying dead on the floor. Soon after, the museum’s wealthy owner is also found dead, in his stables.

DCI Harry Nelson is called in to investigate, thrusting him into Ruth’s path once more. When threatening letters come to light, events take an even more sinister turn. But as Ruth’s friends become involved, where will her loyalties lie? As her convictions are tested, Ruth and Nelson must discover how Aboriginal skulls, drug smuggling, and the mystery of the “Dreaming” hold the answers to these deaths, as well as the keys to their own survival.

Dr Ruth Galloway is invited to an important but unusual event, assisting in the opening and documentation of a coffin excavated from a medieval church. When Ruth arrives an hour early at the museum, she is shocked to discover the curator recently deceased next to the ancient coffin. Detective Inspector Nelson is called in to investigate and things become more difficult – and far more dangerous.

This is the fourth book in the Dr Ruth Galloway series, and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I could well understand if many of the readers find the writing takes a little bit to get used to – most of this book (and the others I’ve read so far in the series) are written in the third-person omniscient tense which sometimes gives a bit of an overview feeling or like you’re watching something unfold, not directly connected or able to see things properly through the characters’ eyes. I recall feeling for the first book (The Crossing Place) that this was quite odd and took a bit to get used to. I can’t tell if the author just got better/more subtle about it or whether I’m now simply used to it, but I certainly don’t find the voice as jarring or difficult anymore – though it is still a slightly different feel to other books I’m used to.

That said I still felt a really good connection to Ruth in particular – and oddly I found myself highly enjoying Cathbad’s character as well. While Nelson is certainly the other primary character here, the murky situation between him, Ruth and Nelson’s wife had me feeling a little less charitable to Nelson’s character for much of the book. I don’t really feel Nelson acted badly or “wrong” but I personally feel he could have handled the entire situation better. While I fully expect to be won over again by Nelson in the next few books, I spent a lot of this story feeling equal parts sorry for Nelson and annoyed by him. I thought Cathbad’s character – while certainly not taking over from Nelson’s in any way – really helped fill the void I’m certain would have been there otherwise. I also simply enjoy Cathbad quite thoroughly.

Readers should know that there is an exceptional current-day murder mystery expertly woven around the medieval skeleton of a local Bishop. There are also some Australian Aboriginal bones and a few other smaller sub-plots revolving around in this story that really helped to keep me rapidly turning the pages. I feel the author did an excellent job balancing the various mystery/archaeology plots along with the inter-personal relationships of the various main characters. While I do feel everything is explained well enough a reader could pick this book up by itself and still thoroughly enjoy it, I personally would recommend reading this series in order. While not strictly necessary, a lot of the complexities and history revolving around these characters is from the prior stories and so I feel readers will have a much richer enjoyment having already read the previous books.

An exceptional murder mystery with strong archaeological ties, this is a good book and I personally found it a compelling read. Recommended.

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