The Chalk Pit Review

The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

I cannot believe that this is the ninth book in the Ruth Galloway series I have read! It feels like just yesterday that Ruth was a happily single woman just focused on archaeology at the university. Oh, how times have changed. And yet some things stay the same, and these books have a kind of comfortable rhythm in them so I simultaneously have no idea what is going to happen but feel safe enough with this world that I can slip right back in every time I read a new book. This is one of my favourite series and I am always excited to return.

The Blurb:

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.

As I was expecting the book started off slowly, but with a few murders to keep you on your toes. With some books a slow start means boring but it never is with Elly Griffiths, it just means it’s intriguing and laying the foundations for the fast paced tension ahead. When the connections begin between all the different, seemingly unrelated areas of the plot I get a little thrill, link after link being revealed yet not coming together to produce a coherent picture then the story picks up and the crimes become more frequent until BAM you reach the climax and I’m so tense I am physically attached to the book.

With subtle humour and more plot twists than I can count I am slowly absorbed into the lives of the characters, yet the domesticity slips away and I end up on the edge of my seat every time. Brilliant. Elly Griffiths truly manages to cover everything in her books, from racism and religion to childcare and Alice in Wonderland. The recurring but not main characters get developed over the years without too much focus taken away from main story, and Griffiths knows the exact moment to switch to the other point of view to keep me on edge and desperate to know what happens in both situations.

If you can’t tell from this review, I love the Ruth Galloway series and I will be reading the next one as soon as I can get my hands on it. Would I survive? In the story I would as long as I was careful, although if I get one more dramatic twist in real life my heart may give out.

This Lie Will Kill You Review

This Lie Will Kill You by Chelsea Pitcher

Slightly confusingly, I am posting this review before the review of All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban, despite reading it after. I mention this because my first thought when seeing the premise was that it seemed like the one for All Your Twisted Secrets- a mixture of students invited to a location to get some prize money. I was wrong. The books had two similarities- the one just mentioned, and that they were both awesome. Apart from that, they went in different directions with different styles.

This Lie Will Kill You follows a bunch of students who are invited to a mysterious mansion for a murder mystery game, the prize being $50,000. It starts with a thrilling prologue, mysteriously introducing the antagonist. The first few chapters are labelled with the role of the character it is following- class act, drama queen, golden boy, meat head and lone wolf. The multiple character, third person perspective continues throughout the book, allowing the reader insight into the drama happening simultaneously throughout the large mansion. Throughout, there are lots of references to an event that happened at a party the year earlier which all the characters were somehow involved him. Clues are dropped at various points, leaving the reader increasingly curious and trying and piece together what happened.

The atmosphere is consistently tense, as well as being very intense. The story swallowed me up and left me willing to kill to know what happened. Even the memories the characters reflect on from the past are mysterious, only providing small bits of context and explanation at a time. The ending was a total surprise, with so many twists. Every time you thought you had resolved something, another layer of the web was revealed. Would I survive this book? Probably, because I don’t go to parties so wouldn’t have gone to the one the year before.

Two Can Keep a Secret Review

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

This is the third of Karen McManus’ books I’ve read so far, and definitely my favourite. It had darker undertones and a tenser atmosphere than the other books, which I loved. It follows twins called Ellery and Ezra as they move to Echo Ridge, where two homecoming disappeared in the past and one was found dead, including the twins’ aunt. When they arrive strange things start happening, graffiti threatening to take another homecoming queen and anonymous threats. Ellery is true crime obsessed after her mom’s twin sister disappeared and her mom refuses to talk about it, while Ezra is more friendly and trusting.
There are two viewpoints followed, Ellery and the younger brother of a main suspect in one of the previous disappearances. Because of the small-town nature of echo ridge, the community is very interconnected and Ellery quickly begins trying to unravel the web of secrets that surrounds it. The plot twists start early and keep on coming, shocking me every single time. I probably should have seen some coming but I was so absorbed in the story that I didn’t put the book down long enough to come up with theories!
The book is brilliantly plotted with an array of individual characters, and a great climax followed by an incredibly satisfying ending. Even if you didn’t enjoy the other books so much, I definitely recommend trying this one, because it does have a slightly different feel. My one gripe is that there was a character called Chad. Why is there always a character called Chad in YA books?
Would I survive this book? Yep, I’m not cool enough to be a homecoming queen.

The Woman in Blue Review

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

I’d like to start by directing your attention to the title. Not because I have anything deep to say about it, but it rhymes which made me grin. So let’s take a moment to appreciate the rhyme.

Done? Please continue.

I really, really like the Ruth Galloway mysteries and I would definitely recommend reading them in order for maximum enjoyment, but if you really have to start partway through a series, this one isn’t too bad, since each is a mystery of its own. Of course, you won’t know any of the characters or past references, but I think it would still be enjoyable.

The Woman in Blue involves Ruth Galloway, female priests, a place known for sightings of Mary (mother of Jesus), Cathbad house-sitting, religion and hate letters. As usual, Ruth somehow ends up entangled with the police investigation after a couple of murders and several assaults on women. And Cathbad being an absolute legend, as usual.

Elly Griffiths is a queen of ramping up tension, and the blurred lines between religion and reality in this small village add an excellent amount of confusion to the mystery.  I’m now familiar with Griffiths’ style, with the clues appearing at the start, mysterious sightings and barely related events then towards the end things suddenly pull together I am tenser than I have ever been in my life. There’s a couple of jump scares which were fun, a dead end and excellent passing of time, never too fast or too slow. I didn’t fine this book as tense as previous ones, it was a rather slower mystery, it all culminating in one short scene which I read as fast as humanly possible.

The final scene has great atmosphere, the religious fervour, the crowds, the ominous letters. I am never disappointed by the ending of an Elly Griffiths book. Would I survive this book? Yeah, I reckon I would. Only a couple of people die, and I don’t attend many large religious gatherings. Or any at all.

A Dangerous Collaboration Review

A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn

Veronica Speedwell is one of my favourite characters of all time, so I couldn’t help but love this book. She is intelligent, sassy, honest, open-minded and unashamed of her enjoyment of sex. She is also really passionate about butterflies.
Instead of being so based in London as the previous books of the series are, A Dangerous Collaboration takes place on a private island off the coast of cornwall. The isolated setting, mixed with an old aristocratic family living in a castle with lots of secret passages created the perfect atmosphere for a traditional english murder mystery. Deanna Raybourn pulls together an interesting group of suspects, and slowly reveals titbits of information, enough to give some kind of clue but not so much that the whole plot is revealed. The charming, remote cornwall setting also adds extra mystery with all the local superstitions and traditional country characters, from a wise woman in the village to rumours of a bride being stolen by giants. These mix well with Veronica and Stoker’s scientific efforts to find out what happened.
Not only was there an awesome mystery, the tension between Veronica, Stoker and his brother Tiberius is continued and heightened, leading to some black eyes and lots of exasperation from Veronica. After four books of absolute torture something happens between Veronica and Stoker, although I won’t say what it is or whether it is positive or negative. Veronica pretending to be Tiberius’ fiancee and the frustration this causes to Stoker, added to Tiberius’ mysterious links to the island and the defensive islanders creates the perfect setting for lots of drama and dramatic reveals.
I really enjoyed the ending, and as can be expected from a murder mystery there was a twist. Apart from that my lips are sealed- read it yourself!