Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Amusing Characters, Disappointing Mystery: A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths

Ruth Galloway, a plump, working archaeologist, is shocked to learn that a classmate at university, Daniel Golding, has been killed, burned alive in his house. After his death, she receives a letter telling her that he had made a great discovery and that he's afraid. Ruth is mulling this over when she receives a phone call from his department chair, Clayton Henry, inviting her to Pendle University where Daniel taught to authenticate the bones from his dig. Then Ruth begins to receive threatening letters.

DCI Nelson is also headed to Blackpool for his holiday to visit his mother. He tries to convince Ruth not to go, but when Cathbad, her Druid friend, decides to accompany her; the decision is made. She, Kate, her eighteen-month-old daughter, and Cathbad set out for the north and danger.

The characters in this novel are delightful: archaeologists, policemen, Druids, and the most entertaining, Kate. I thoroughly enjoyed their antics. Kate is probably the best addition to the cast of characters for a long time. Her twoishness adds a refreshing touch to the book.

I was not thrilled with the mystery. The setting, a university that sponsored the archaeological dig, is interesting. I always enjoy the details about an archaeological dig. The secret of the bones is well done. However, as a mystery it fails. Things happen. The Blackpool police chase after clues, but no real detecting takes place. Nelson grinds his teeth because he can't be an official part of the action, and Ruth wrings her hands.

I felt the ending was rather a cheat. I like mysteries where you can try along with the detectives to discover the killer. In this book, the killer is so far off stage it's a shock when the identity is revealed.
I can recommend this book, if you like amusing characters and archaeological puzzles, but if a serious mystery is what you're looking for, give this a miss.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.