Title: The Chalk Pit
Author: Elly Griffiths
Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr Ruth Galloway discovers they are recent – the boiling not the medieval curiosity she thought – DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.
Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast network of old chalk-mining tunnels under King’s Lynn, home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?
As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.
This is another great release from one of my favourite authors, as part of the Ruth Galloway series that I always really enjoy. As it’s set in Norfolk, I enjoy reading about the area, particularly when some of the story moves into Norwich so I recognise lots of landmarks (though some of course are made up).
The story was interesting, particularly with its focus on the homeless community in Norwich – it’s nice to see a book that is actually quite objective and reasoned about people on the streets, instead of failing to treat them as actual human beings. The idea of an ‘underground’ community was really fun to read about and an interesting idea. Elly Griffiths does a great job of treating the issue of homelessness seriously and, I felt, with respect but still adds a bit of light-hearted fun to the story. I also quite liked that everything wasn’t too ‘neatly tied up’ and left some things unsolved, leaving me looking forward to her next instalment!
The characters are as great as ever (one of the many reasons I enjoy this series so much); I’ll always love Ruth, despite her sometimes making what I feel are questionable decisions regarding her personal life – but hey, no one’s perfect which makes me like her even more really! I also really like Nelson, his wife Michelle, Cathbald, Judy – even Clough, despite his odd views sometimes! In fact almost all of the Police force and supporting characters are really interesting characters and fun to read about (though some characters definitely featured less in this novel than I’d have liked, leaving what felt like a bit of a hole without them).
I am generally a big fan of Police procedurals anyway, which certainly helps, but some procedurals can be a bit dry at times. However the Ruth Galloway series is far more than that – each book has adventure, suspense and mystery as well, and this is no different. They all set such a high standard and I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page!