As promised, here is my second Murderous Monday for February – and it’s a cracker of a read for those of you who enjoy serial police procedurals. We received a copy of The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths, the ninth book in the Ruth Galloway series, from the publisher via Netgalley and here’s the blurb from Goodreads:
Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they are recent – the boiling not the medieval curiosity she thought – DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.
Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast network of old chalk-mining tunnels under King’s Lynn, home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?
As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.
Bones are found at the site of an underground development. A homeless woman goes missing (or does she?). Two homeless men are murdered. A young mother vanishes without trace, leaving her four young children behind. Is there a link? Only time (and thorough investigation) will tell.
The Usual Suspects:
This is a bit of an unusual read in terms of suspects, because for the majority of the book, the police don’t have any. Well, any suspects with any particular evidence attached to their names. While this does make it difficult for those wishing to guess ahead to who the murderer might be, it did up the suspense and mystery factor because these things seemed to be happening completely out of the blue.
The Hunt for the Murderer/s:
While there are murders in the story, the hunt is mostly geared toward finding the links between various happenings…because as I mentioned above, the police don’t really have any suspects.
Four poison bottles for the heavy sigh of someone being murdered in their sleep
I will admit to loving a good police procedural, and this is a good police procedural. I had no idea when I requested it that it was number nine in a series and it certainly doesn’t read like a story in which the characters are mired in backstory that is impenetrable to the reader new to the series. It is obvious that there are many connections between each of the characters, but these are discussed just enough to ensure that you know who’s who and how they are related, but not so much that it drags the focus off the investigation. Essentially, Ruth is an archaeologist, Nelson is a policeman, they have a past, now let’s get on with it.
The investigation is expertly paced and involves multiple interlinked events culminating in an unexpected and sort of tabloid (but satisfyingly so) ending. The focus is so much on the various events that happen – discovering the bones, the two separate murders, the missing lady and so forth – that the tension is continually building as the investigation continues and the pieces start to fall into place.
I enjoyed this as a story that I could just fall back into every time I picked it up and I will definitely seek out more from this series in the future. Have you read any of Ruth Galloway’s previous adventures?
Until next time,