The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths

The House at Sea’s End by Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Fern

Just back from maternity leave, forensic archeologist Ruth is finding it hard to juggle motherhood and work when she is called in to investigate human bones that have surfaced on a remote Norfolk beach. The presence of DCI Harry Nelson, the married father of her daughter, does not help. The bones, six men with their arms bound, turn out to date back to World War II, a desperate time on this stretch of coastland.

As Ruth and Nelson investigate, Home Guard veteran Archie Whitcliffe reveals the existence of a secret the old soldiers have vowed to protect with their lives. But then Archie is killed and a German journalist arrives, asking questions about Operation Lucifer, a plan to stop a German invasion, and a possible British war crime. What was Operation Lucifer? And who is prepared to kill to keep its secret?

Dr Ruth Galloway is learning how to juggle a newborn baby daughter and her work as a Forensic Archaeologist. When sand erosion unearths a number of skeletons buried from the World War 2 era her path once again collides with DCI Nelson. Can Ruth and Nelson find answers to this puzzle, but also find their way to a new equilibrium with their very complicated relationship.

I’ve been really enjoying this series. A delightful mixture of archaeology and modern mystery I fight the author has an excellent way of blending the past and present. I also have been really excited about the very non-traditional professional – and complicated personal – relationship between Ruth and Nelson. Nelson is a happily married man and I find it so refreshing and different that there is such an interesting professional relationship and odd friendship between Ruth and Nelson. I feel the complications between Ruth and Nelson are extremely well handled and personally I really enjoy the delicate balance they are both aiming for. I find this so interesting and refreshing to read and the very non-traditional-ness of the whole situation really keeps me coming back for more.

I feel that readers could fairly easily pick this book up and read it as a standalone. The connections between Ruth and Nelson are very well explained – though I do feel it would be sensible for readers to go back to the first book and not start with this, the third. A deeper understanding of this would enrich the readers enjoyment of the book I feel, and the two previous cases are mentioned a few times in passing. That said this book can absolutely be read – and enjoyed, I feel – if it’s read by itself. There is a strong cast of secondary characters and I enjoy the other layers they add both to the story and the situation as a whole.

The mystery was interesting and somewhat slower paced in the first half of the book. The personal and emotional relationships were explored in a bit of depth in the first half of the book, but the mystery and complexity of the plot takes comes to the fore in the latter half of the book and while I don’t feel this could be slotted as an “action” type of mystery the plot and murder mystery aspects definitely ramp up in the second half of the book. I feel readers who enjoy both character-based stories and police procedural style of murder mysteries will each enjoy this book. I also really enjoyed the glimpses into archaeology and the more historical aspects to the story as well and found this really rounded out the book in a delightful and different way.

With complicated and interesting characters, a number of emotional storylines mingled very well with a historical/archaeological plot and a more traditional murder mystery plot this is a wonderfully layered and richly interesting book I feel should appeal to a wide range of readers. An excellent series and one I am eagerly anticipating the next installment to. Recommended.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.