Book Reviews

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With the October 2004 review, we began rating the books on the basis of one to four trowels; 
one trowel= don’t bother, to four trowels= run right out to your local book store and buy the hard cover!

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The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

Reviewed on: February 1, 2023


Houghton Mifflin Harcourt:  New York
2021 (HC)

The thirteenth Ruth Galloway mystery continues the string of strong entries in this long-running series that deftly blends archaeological ventures with police procedurals.

Ruth Galloway has returned to the University of North Norfolk as archaeology department chair (head) after a stint as a senior lecturer at one of the Cambridge colleges.  To her chagrin, the duties as head of the department leave little time for excavation as she chases after funding to support both faculty and student research opportunities in the archaeology-rich environs of the Norfolk area.  She leaps at the opportunity to return to the field when her one-time lover (and father of her daughter) DCI Harry Nelson summons Ruth to a crime scene at Blakeney Point on the shores of the North Sea.  Legally registered amateur metal detectorists, who call themselves the Night Hawks (to redefine the term given to rogue site pillagers), have reported a body washing up on the shore that encompasses what might well be a Bronze Age (roughly 2500 BC-800 BC) site that includes a human burial.  David Brown, a newly hired archaeologist who is taking Ruth’s former position as a lecturer, insinuates himself into her project and the two differ greatly in their opinions of metal detectorists.  Ruth believes they are injurious to sound archaeological work and Brown thinks they can be of aid to professional archaeologists.  It will not be the last disagreement between these two.

The contemporary victim is thought to perhaps have been one the many migrants seeking asylum from the Middle East in recent years, but further police investigations by Nelson’s squad will prove the victim was much more local.  At much the same time, Nelson and his colleagues are called to investigate the apparent murder/suicide of Dr. Douglas Noakes and his wife Linda at their secluded Black Dog Farm, named after Black Shuck, a Norfolk legend of a gigantic black dog that is a harbinger of imminent death.  Noakes is a well-respected independent researcher whose institute is on the cutting edge of medical research and drug trials.  The two events, at first blush apparently unrelated, begin to merge as several members of the Night Hawk ensemble and the Black Dog Farm victims and their children have a convoluted and possibly very dark relationship.  And at the center of this web of intrigue seems to be Ruth’s new associate, Dr. David Brown, who has history with both the Night Hawks and with Black Dog Farm!

Three trowels for the latest entry in this series that never fails to satisfy the reader who loves diabolical twists and turns of plot and characterization in their pleasure reading!