The Last Remains comes out today in the UK according to the newsletters I get, although listed as 2nd Feb on Goodreads. If you pre-ordered it from one of the independent booksellers listed by Quercus, you may have got it earlier. Mine arrived Friday, and I managed to wait until Saturday afternoon to open it! Six and a half hours later, with a few breathers and pauses for contemplation (have to savour these things!), I finished.
The Last Remains (Ruth Galloway #15)
by Elly Griffiths
The discovery of a missing woman’s bones forces Ruth and Nelson to finally confront their feelings for each other as they desperately work to exonerate one of their own.
When builders discover a human skeleton while renovating a café, they call in archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway, who is preoccupied with the threatened closure of her department and by her ever-complicated relationship with DCI Nelson. The bones turn out to be modern–the remains of Emily Pickering, a young archaeology student who went missing in 2002. Suspicion soon falls on Emily’s Cambridge tutor and also on another archeology enthusiast who was part of the group gathered the weekend before she disappeared–Ruth’s friend Cathbad.
As they investigate, Nelson and his team uncover a tangled web of relationships within the archaeology group and look for a link between them and the café where Emily’s bones were found. Then, just when the team seem to be making progress, Cathbad disappears. The trail leads Ruth a to the Neolithic flint mines in Grimes Graves. The race is on, first to find Cathbad and then to exonerate him, but will Ruth and Nelson uncover the truth in time to save their friend? (goodreads)
When Elly Griffiths revealed that book 15 of the Ruth Galloway series was to be the last, we wailed, and gnashed our teeth, but generally realised that all good things would come to an end. There’s been a huge build-up for this last release, and I succumbed to a hardcover pre-order. The last time I did that was for Deathly Hallows. The bonus was a special edition of the first book, The Crossing Places, which I reread in the autumn. Frankly, I think that was a brilliant idea. It put everything into context and reminded me of things from the start that I’d forgot, or at least shelved in the cobwebbed cupboards of my mind.
And the starting point is important for the end. Not vital. You would enjoy the story, but miss the subtleties. At the heart of this book is a fine crime drama, with mystery, suspense, twists, blind alleys, and red herrings. But it all becomes heart-aching as the characters involved are people you know, trust and maybe love a little. Not just Ruth and Nelson. Not even just Cathbad. If I was starting on this book I would be bewildered by the huge cast of characters, some of whom are important to Ruth and Nelson, some to the plot. Many to both.
Landscape as a character
Norfolk plays its role to the full. What a character Norfolk is, and how much I miss its wide open spaces. I’m so glad I visited some of the tourist spots as well as more of the hidden spaces while I lived there. Elly’s description of Grimes Graves is good. But I doubt anyone who hasn’t seen such a weird landscape as this neolithic flint mine site would really appreciate it, and the atmosphere it creates.
As for the writing, well, Elly has upped her game. Several phrases she used made me stop in my tracks, they were so apt and evocative. This is an excellent read, which had me on the edge of my seat many times, for different reasons. It makes an entirely satisfying conclusion to the series, although Elly did add to her comment it was the last Ruth book ‘for now’. Well, there’s always the odd short story you want to write about your favourite characters, isn’t there?
PS Ruth Galloway read the sort of books I read when I was young, too.