The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

I have been reading Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series of novels from the very first one, Crossing Places; this is number eleven. It was a real pleasure to jump back into the world of Ruth and Nelson. While you could read this as a standalone, there are lots of references to things that happened in previous books. It would probably be better to start at the beginning in order to get the most out of them.

During the course of an archaeological dig, the remains of a 12-year-old girl are found. Margaret Lacey disappeared in 1981 during a street party celebrating the royal wedding, and her killer was never caught. DI Nelson receives anonymous letters very similar to ones sent to him in the first book, but they cannot be from the same person as he is long dead. The investigation that follows features suspects and red herrings galore; I did not guess who the murderer was, but very rarely do.

Part of the appeal of this series is the setting – a salt marsh on the north Norfolk coast – which lends the stories an atmospheric quality; it is a beautiful landscape, but treacherous if you don’t know your way around.

Another attraction is the cast of familiar characters, most of whom have been there since the beginning, who continue to evolve and grow as the series progresses. Ruth does not play as large a part in this story as she usually does, but she is always there, on the periphery. The overriding theme of The Stone Circle is complicated and difficult family relationships, both among the police officers and the people they are investigating.

If you enjoy reading well-established crime series, with characters that come to seem like old friends, I suggest you start with the first book; I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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