Clearly, a book that was published last year does not really qualify for FFB. Yet, I have been doing this series as reviews for FFB since I started back in December of 2015. Therefore, I am doing it again this week with The Chalk Pit: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths. Make sure you check out the full list of reading suggestions over at Todd Mason's blog.
As The Chalk Pit: A Ruth Galloway Mystery begins, Forensic Archeologist Ruth Galloway is beneath the surface of the ground and not happy about it. She is in one of the many tunnels that are passageways below Norwhich. She does not like small spaces as it is and being underground with the reality of all that soil above her pressing down is making it very hard to cope. The fact that she is down there with Ted is not any help at all even if he is a good guy she has known for years. What brought them underground was the recent discovery of bones in a dirt core sample from a boring machine. Plans for an underground restaurant below The Guildhall are on hold after the police and Ruth were notified of the bones.
As they work in the tunnel that was probably part an old chalk mine, it is clear the bones left behind by the removal of the dirt core are also human and may or may not come from the same skeleton. The tunnel bones are leg bones, an arm bone, and what are probably rib bones. Missing is the skull and any pelvic bones among others which means that identifying the gender is going to be very difficult. The bones also are very clean and have a dull shine to them. While Ted thinks they are medieval, Ruth is not sure.
At the same time as Ruth and Ted are beneath the surface of the ground, DCI Nelson is very much above ground and rather annoyed over various issues. Part of the problem is that he is forced to deal with a new and micromanaging boss who would prefer him chained to a desk and doing paperwork while he would much rather be out working cases. Cases such as the current issue with missing homeless people. Various homeless women are disappearing and there are rumors that they have gone underground.
Did they go underground on their own or have they been abducted in some way and forced underground? No one seems to know. What is clear is that it seems that a number of homeless people, shunned by those on the surface, may have taken refuge underground in the numerous tunnels and shafts under the area. If so, the question is where did they go?
And are the recent murders of other homeless people connected in some way?
These two storylines as well as some secondary ongoing plot lines drive several mysteries in The Chalk Pit: A Ruth Galloway Mystery. A series that continues to push the characters in new directions and circumstances. That ongoing character evolution is one of the enjoyable aspects of this series. That angle is present here along with plenty of informative history and social commentary.
The Chalk Pit: A Ruth Galloway Mystery is another very good read in the series that began with The Crossing Places.
For another opinion on the book, make sure you read Jeanne’s review at the Bookblog of the Bristol Library.
The books, in order, and my reviews:
The Crossing Places (Reviewed 12/26/15)
The Janus Stone (Reviewed 11/18/2016)
The House at Sea’s End (Reviewed 12/2/2016)
A Room Full of Bones (Reviewed 12/30/2016)
A Dying Fall (Reviewed 2/10/2017)
The Outcast Dead (Reviewed 4/21/17)
The Ghost Fields (Reviewed 7/14/17)
The Woman In Blue (Reviewed 9/29/17)
The Chalk Pit: A Ruth Galloway Mystery
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardback (currently available in eBook and audio formats as well)
Material supplied by the good folks of the Dallas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2018