Elly Griffiths - The Lantern Men
"Elly Griffiths is certainly my Queen of Crime."
Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway. She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk Police's resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal.
Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now, March has confirmed this and offered to show Nelson where the bodies are buried – but only if Ruth will do the digging.
Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed two more women and that their bodies are buried near the fens, in an area said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.
Is Ivor March, himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? Are the killings really over?
For me, a new novel by Elly Griffiths is a 'stop everything' moment. When that novel happens to be a Dr Ruth Galloway story, then life is on hold until I've finished it. Ruth is possibly one of the most rounded and likeable protagonists in British crime fiction. She's hard-working, dedicated to her career and her daughter, she has a gorgeous cottage, a glorious book collection and she's incredibly intelligent. She's also body-conscious to the point where you want to give her a big hug. Ruth isn't a character in a book, she's a friend. That's how richly written she is.
'The Lantern Men' is the twelfth book in the series and they're all of a brilliant high standard. You know you're going to get an intelligently written, dark, multi-layered story packed with a cast that stretches from the wonderful to the weird.
Fans of the series are itching for Ruth to get together with the father of her child, married DCI Nelson. However, that is looking less and less likely as she's moved to Cambridge and living with her American partner, Frank. However, even Ruth knows he isn't right for her and she cannot stop being drawn to Nelson. This case is the opportunity to bring them back together, professionally, even if not personally. This on/off teasing relationship could have become a cliché, but Elly knows what her readers want. She also knows her characters and them becoming a couple is far from easy.
The plot of 'The Lantern Men' is incredibly dark as Elly enters serial killer territory in which several women have disappeared. Ivor March is deliciously evil as he sits in prison and makes his demands of Nelson and Ruth. Is he playing a deadly game? Does he have a partner in crime? There are red herrings and blind corners on every page as Nelson and his team come into contact with the people who knew March, each of them hiding pains and secrets of their own. Don't even try to guess the ending, as you won't. Enjoy this book for the brilliant thriller it is.
Elly Griffiths is becoming increasingly popular with every book she writes, whether it's the Ruth Galloway series, The Brighton Murders, or her standalone thrillers. Elly Griffiths is certainly my Queen of Crime.
Reviewed by: M.W.