Title – A Room Full of Bones
Author – Elly Griffiths
Published – Jan 2012
Genre – Crime fiction / Mystery
Given the type of crime fiction I enjoy it’s surprising that I haven’t come across Elly Griffiths’ books before, but a chance tweet that she was holding a signing in my local bookshop prompted me to find out more (and buy a signed book).
A Room Full of Bones is the fourth title in the “Ruth Galloway” series. Galloway is a Forensic Archaeologist and a single mum. She works at the local Uni (in Norfolk) and seems to have a history of involvement with the local police force. When A Room Full of Bones opens she has been asked to oversee the opening of a medieval bishop’ s coffin at the local museum. When she arrives early for the ceremony she finds the body of the museum’s curator dead beside the coffin. The circumstances appear to be mysterious, with a possible connection to some threatening letters, but nothing the police can be sure of.
The investigation is led by DCI Harry Nelson, someone with whom Galloway seems to have “history”. As the police attempt to resolve the circumstances of the death the investigation focuses on Lord Danforth Smith. He runs a racing stable and is the owner of the museum and a descendant of the long-dead bishop. This was great for me, as a huge fan of Dick Francis it really felt like being in familiar territory.
Much of the story focuses on Galloway, and there’s lots of detail concerning her somewhat disorganised personal life, her efforts to look after her daughter and maintain her career. The setting is also important to the story, her cottage being out on a remote stretch of the Norfolk coast and Griffiths makes much of the desolate and isolated location.
I found this book a real page turner (if you’ll excuse the cliché) and a very easy read. This isn’t in any way a criticism, Griffiths has a very enjoyable writing style and her characters are engaging. It’s unpretentious writing.
It did strike me towards the end of the book that Galloway hadn’t actually done very much work, unlike characters in books by authors such as Kathy Reichs or Patricia Cornwell, where there are pages and pages of technical information. Too much detail can spoil the pace of a story, but I would have liked to have found out a bit more about the work of a forensic archaeologist.
There isn’t a lot of time given over to scene setting from the previous books in the series, but there are quite a few references through the story to past events and I do wonder how I will feel when I read some of the earlier titles – there’s a chance that too much has been given away. I’m sure it won’t be long before I find out, as I have a signed copy of The Crossing Places to read!
Score – 4/5