callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

The Outcast Dead, Elly Griffiths


This book was recommended by Geranium Cat so I requested it from NetGalley and was lucky enough to get it. I’m so glad, because this is the first book by Elly Griffiths I’ve read and I was very impressed, even though it’s written in the present tense, which usually irritates me.

I love the title of this book and what it stands for: a prayer for the unknown dead buried in plague pits and paupers’ graves. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist, currently excavating what may be the grave of a notorious Victorian childminder and child killer, known as Mother Hook. To Ruth’s embarrassment, the work at the dig is being filmed for TV. At the same time there are two abductions of babies, both in the care of childminders, plus a possible baby murder, in the Norwich area. Ruth is involved because one of the babies is the child of a friend and the investigating officer is the father of her own baby daughter. To complicate matters, she’s attracted to Frank, an American historian working on the film. There’s nothing like a hunt for a missing child to create tension and the book builds towards a nail biting finish. The story of Mother Hook is linked to the present day events, which adds to the interest.

The book seems to be about real people in the real modern world, with all its complicated relationships. I believed in the characters and sympathised with them. I really liked all the up to date details about what children watch on television and adults listen to on the radio (many’s the time I have found Today in Parliament a soothing aid to sleep); this is a recognisable world of normal life interrupted by horrors. Now that I’ve read this, I’ll certainly be looking out for the five previous books about Ruth Galloway. If they’re all as well written as this one, I’m in for a treat.
Tags: crime fiction, elly griffiths, netgalley
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