It is July 2013 as The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths begins. For Barry West, who drives a digger (backhoe), it is a hot day in Norfolk, England and much like any other day. The fact that the land on which he rips asunder has been the site of many battles and the spillage of blood by the injured and dying means nothing to him. All that matters is clearing the land as developer Edward Spens wants it done as fast as possible. There is going to be a bit of a delay as Barry West is about to find a vintage WW II plane with the pilot still inside buried in one of the craters on the land.
That finding will bring the police and that includes DCI Nelson. It also means he will call Dr. Ruth Galloway and interrupt her day. Not with a concerned call about their daughter, Kate, but as a colleague seeking her expert opinion. She will have to leave the nearby dig where her and her student team has recently a found a body that possibly dates back to the Bronze Age. A body that was there two thousand years before the Romans lived, fought, and died on the very soil she and her students dig through as they work to unearth history. Since she assists the North Norfolk Serious Crimes Unit as a forensic archeologist, the discovery of a body in a WWII plane is going to have to take priority over her research work.
Upon arrival at the scene, it does not take Dr. Galloway long before she thinks something very strange is going on. Not only is the American war plane in far better shape than one would think if it crashed, the soil around the aircraft is loose. Even accounting for the heavy equipment digging around the aircraft before it was discovered, the soil is far looser than one would expect. The body also is in far better shape than one would expect for being submerged in chalky soil. Not to mention the fact the body is sitting in the seat with hands on the flight stick. Clearly, the body was moved and posed for some reason. The fact that there is a bullet hole smack in the middle of his forehead further proves Dr. Galloway’s point that is not an crash related to the nearby American airbase that was last active during the war.
Who did and why are just two of the many mysteries at work in The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery. Seventh in the series that began with The Crossing Places, this read is full of mystery and history regarding the role of Americans based in England during the war. As one expects in the series there is continuing and evolving character development that continues to move the series forward.
The characters in the series are not static pieces that never change as years pass. Ruth is 45 and and her daughter Kate is approaching her fifth birthday while things continue to change. They have their turning points in the book, as do nearly all the secondary characters. A lot is in play here relationship wise. Then there are the mysteries with multiple ones present beyond the ones explained above.
In short, another good read in a very good series despite a couple of clichéd points that many readers will see coming long before they happen. One can’t really explain what without creating a spoiler or two, but one situation is so classic it may generate a laugh out loud moment as it did for this reader. Despite that fact, the book is a good one. A series that one simply has to read in order, The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery is a highly entertaining read that blends history and mystery together in a very satisfactory way.
The books, in order, and my reviews:
The Crossing Places (Reviewed 12/26/15)
The Janus Stone (Reviewed 11/18/2016)
The House at Sea’s End (Reviewed 12/2/2016)
A Room Full of Bones (Reviewed 12/30/2016)
A Dying Fall: A Ruth Galloway Mystery (Reviewed 2/10/2017)
The Outcast Dead: A Ruth Galloway Mystery (Reviewed 4/21/17)
The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardback (also available in paperback, audio, and eBook formats)
Material obtained via the Plano Public Library System to read and review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2017