They drive through King’s Lynn with Kate singing ‘Will you won’t you, won’t you join the dance’ all the way. Ruth decides to go back along the quayside which is beautiful in the evening as well as being a shortcut. As she stops at the lights near the Vancouver Centre she sees an odd sight: a metal trolley being pushed by a large man in a yellow shirt, a slight woman with her hair in a ponytail and a druid in a purple cloak. That must be Cathbad and Judy. Who are they with and what are they doing? But the car behind her hoots impatiently and she moves on.
commentary: The Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries just get better and better.
The Chalk Pit is about underground tunnels in Norwich, about some dead men and some missing women. It is about Harry and Ruth and their tumultuous relationship, about Ruth and her parents and about Ruth and her daughter. All the regulars have their parts to play, and there is the usual quota of jokes and witty remarks and commentary on people’s differing lifestyles.
I had to sit and read the final third of the book in one go, tensed up and completely involved. I was glad of two things – that Griffiths gave the aftermath of the events in the book a full followup (it drives me mad when authors simply cut off the story and don’t tell you what became of most of the characters) and that it wasn’t as harsh as it might have been.
I cared hugely about the fate of those involved, and the resolution of the main plot was very moving, and actually had me shedding tears. And that’s before we got to the final events in people’s personal lives… oh no, do we have to wait a year to find out what happens next?
As ever, I could quote from it endlessly…
- Nelson’s boss Jo Archer is a tremendous character: ‘Ruth isn’t going to be bossed about by a woman in tight trousers who thinks she’s Helen Mirren playing Jane Tenison.’
- Nelson finding the presence of his 20-something daughter awkward: ‘Damn Laura with her kindness and domesticity. Shouldn’t she be out at a rave with an unsuitable boyfriend? Where did they go wrong as parents?’
But the book is also, below its dancing quick-witted plot, about the way we operate as a society, about the poor and under-privileged, about those who aren’t coping with modern life, about the homeless and their helpers. It’s about the way women are perceived and treated, about the values we live by and would wish to live by, about the contrasts in our daily lives. It is an amazing achievement.
- Ruth knows that the camera is meant to add ten pounds but in her case it felt more like fifty. When she appeared on screen in her white coat it looked like there had been an avalanche.
I wish there was a new Elly Griffiths book every month.
The tunnels in the picture are beneath Nottingham, but look like the Norwich ones sounded. The young people digging are part of a WPA project in the USA in the 1930s.