Saturday, December 10, 2011

Review: The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths

The House at Sea's End (Ruth Galloway, Book #3)
by Elly Griffiths
Release Date: January 10, 2012
2012 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Ebook Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN13: 978-1-547-50614-2 (Hardcover, 284 Pages)
Genre: Murder / Mystery
Source: Review Copy from Netgalley

4 / 5 Stars

Ruth Galloway has just returned from maternity leave and is struggling to juggle work and motherhood. When a team from the University of North Norfolk, investigating coastal erosion, finds six bodies buried at the foot of the cliff, she is immediately put on the case. DCI Nelson is investigating, but Ruth finds this more hindrance than help - Nelson is the father of her daughter, Kate. Still, she remains professional and concentrates on the case at hand. Forensic tests prove that the bodies are from Southern Europe, killed sixty years ago. Police Investigations unearth records of Project Lucifer, a wartime plan to stop a German invasion. A further discovery reveals that members of the Broughton Sea's End Home Guard took a 'blood oath' to conceal some deadly wartime secret. The more information they uncover, the more elusive any explanation becomes. When a visiting German reporter is killed, Ruth and Nelson realise that someone is still alive who will kill to keep the secret of Broughton Sea's End's war years. Can they discover the truth in time to stop another murder?
My Thoughts
The House at Sea's End was an entertaining Ruth Galloway Mystery, but I enjoyed it more due to Ruth's anguish over the difficulties of being a working single parent rather than for the actual murder / mystery that was in this novel.  As always, I truly appreciate the sense of atmostphere that Ms. Griffiths is able to bring to these novels as there is always a feeling of tension in the air, whether she is describing the beauty of the aftereffects of a snowstorm, or describing the wonders and dangers of doing archaeological work withing the confines of the sea.
Because I have read the first two novels in this series, I had the benefit of knowing background information that was often referenced in this novel.  While you could read this novel as a stand-alone, it would definitely help if you had read the first two novels before beginning this one because the author does assume you have read them when making references to the preceding events.  In this one, Ruth Galloway is returning from maternity leave and is dealing with the frustrations of working full-time and being a full-time mom.  She is definitely turning out to be one of my favourite characters in this series, and I love the fact that she is full of imperfections as I can totally relate to her as a mom dealing with both work and motherhood.  I understood her frustrations when people around her were telling her she should be at home with her baby, yet she was conflicted as she really enjoyed her work and wanted to be something more than just a mom.  I found her personal conflicts to be rather more interesting than the mystery, to be honest.
I also liked the fact that the secondary characters had the benefit of a lot of character development as well, and I got to learn more about their personal lives and some of the problems they were dealing with.  There is one situation in particular I am really curious to see where it goes as it could create a lot of problems, and yet is so common today.  I don't want to give it away, but the situation will carry into the next novel and I am really, really curious, and it was completely unexpected.  All I will say is that it involves Cathbad - the druid who amuses me to no end.
As for the mystery itself, I found it quite interesting at first, but it sort of petered off for me and although I did not figure out who the murderer was, I did find it to be a bit of a letdown.  It seemed to lack that dramatic twist that it was leading up to and I was a little disappointed.  I do have to say however, that Ms. Griffiths did a great job portraying the time period during the Second World War, the fears, the expectations, the betrayals, and the impulsiveness that would have existed during that time period, and I enjoyed learning what life was like at that time.  The terror and the fear came through, and I couldn't imagine what it was like to have to live like that all of the time.
The House at Sea's End was an enjoyable third addition to a series that I thoroughly enjoy.  I thought the author did a remarkable job in developing her characters in this novel, and the atmosphere definitely portrayed the English countryside in a way that made me feel like I was right there.  I was not overly impressed with the murder / mystery in this one however, and I didn't really see the purpose of Tatjana's visit other than to show another aspect of war, and Tatjana's attitude irritated me to no end, even to the coincidental "just happen to be around in the nick of time" towards the end of the novel.  While convenient coincidences grate on my nerves, there are enough wonderful aspects to this novel that I still enjoyed it tremendously and am looking forward to book four, A Room Full of Bones.


  1. I'll have to check for these. It's not usually my genre.

  2. It'll be worth checking out the first two novels in the series before beginning this one. Thanks for the heads up.