EXCERPT: It’s not until there’s a shout of ‘Tide!’ that they realise the waters are almost upon them. Then there’s another cry, coming from Troy, a young hawk stationed at the mouth of one of the estuaries winding back inland. His comrades splash over to him, taking care to keep their machines above water.
‘There’s something . . .’ says Troy. ‘I almost fell over it.’ He’s very young, still a teenager, and his voice wavers and breaks.
Alan, an older detectorist, reaches out in the dark to touch his shoulder. ‘What is it, lad?’
But another of the hawks is pointing his torch at the ground by Troy’s feet. And they all see it, first some clothes swirling in the incoming tide, a movement that gives the appearance of life. But then, caught in a clump of sea grass, a dead body, its arm outstretched as if asking for help.
ABOUT ‘THE NIGHT HAWKS (RUTH GALLOWAY MYSTERIES #13)’: Dr Ruth Galloway returns to the moody and beautiful landscape of North Norfolk to confront another killer. A devastating new case for our favourite forensic archaeologist in this acclaimed and bestselling crime series.
The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk. At first Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons. Nelson at first thinks that Taylor’s death is accidental drowning, but a second death suggests murder.
Nelson is called to an apparent murder-suicide of a couple at the isolated Black Dog Farm. Local legend talks of the Black Shuck, a spectral hound that appears to people before they die. Nelson ignores this, even when the owner’s suicide note includes the line, ‘He’s buried in the garden.’ Ruth excavates and finds the body of a giant dog.
All roads lead back to this farm in the middle of nowhere, but the place spells serious danger for anyone who goes near. Ruth doesn’t scare easily. Not until she finds herself at Black Dog Farm…
MY THOUGHTS: I love this series. It definitely should be read as a series to fully appreciate the ongoing and evolving relationships between the characters.
Ruth is back at UNN, in the top job – head of department – and Frank has returned to America. Her daughter, ten-year-old Kate, is back at her old primary school in her last year before moving on to secondary school. Nelson is under pressure from his boss, Superintendent Jo Archer (Super Jo), to retire. Avoiding her is Nelson’s main form of exercise. Cathbad is still raising his and Judy’s children and is a practicing Druid. Judy is Nelson’s 2-i-c, a DI now who is definitely a woman of two halves. She is an excellent police officer, thorough and dedicated to her job. In her personal life she doesn’t much enjoy mixing with other people outside her and Cathbad’s tight circle of friends.
The location of this mystery is Blakeney, a name which means Black Island, a place Cathbad describes as ‘odd’, having ‘a lot of psychic energy’, and home to the hyter sprites, little spider-like creatures that are said to live in tunnels underneath Blakeney and kidnap children.
Black Dog Farm, said to be home of the Black Shuck, a gigantic black dog with glowing red eyes who is the harbinger of death, has a tragic past, and is now the site of another tragedy.
Elly Griffiths can certainly do atmospheric. Her detailed telling of local legends and the way she weaves them through the fabric of her plots is nothing short of masterful. They add an extra creepy dimension to the already spooky house setting. Add in a dysfunctional family and the stage is set for a gripping and engrossing story that swept me along and had me chafing at the bit to get home from work and finish my read, to find out who was behind these killings and just what their motivation was.
If you have been following my reviews for this series, you will know that my ratings are usually closer to 5 than 4. But there is a loose thread in The Night Hawks left dangling, concerning the dead Doctor’s secret room, the activities that were conducted there, and the records contained within. It seemed to me that this was left unfinished and deserved a little more attention than it received from the police.
An excellent addition to the series, that introduces a couple of new characters to the mix. I enjoyed Elly’s author’s note at the end, and Ruth’s biography.
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THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Quercus Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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