Friday, July 31, 2015

Review: The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway, Book #7)
by Elly Griffiths
Release Date: May 19th 2015
2015 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Ebook Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-0544330146
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

Norfolk is suffering from record summer heat when a construction crew unearths a macabre discovery—a downed World War II plane with the pilot still inside. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn’t possibly be the pilot, and DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea. When the remaining members of the Blackstock family learn about the discovery, they seem strangely frightened by the news.

Events are further complicated by a TV company that wants to make a film about Norfolk’s deserted air force bases, the so-called Ghost Fields, which have been partially converted into a pig farm run by one of the younger Blackstocks. As production begins, Ruth notices a mysterious man lurking on the outskirts of Fred Blackstock’s memorial service. Then human bones are found on the family’s pig farm. Can the team outrace a looming flood to find a killer?

My Thoughts
The Ghost Fields is the seventh book in the series and continues two years from the events of the last book, so Ruth's daughter is now five years old.  As usual, Nelson continues to be a mainstay in their lives, and Kate now knows that he is her father; however, he is a little possessive over their lives for my liking considering he is still married to his wife, Michelle, and really should have no say in what Ruth chooses to do, or not do.  Ruth continues to consult for the police, so she is constantly thrown in Nelson's path as it is which makes it difficult and challenging for both of them; I will admit however, that these are the scenes that interest me considerably as you can just feel the tension between them and I am always curious as to where the author will take this drama.

I always love the setting in these novels, and this one is just as interesting, having been set in the midst of a fierce storm, which historically happened.  What I really like is how the descriptions are given through the action and the dialogue and not through actual lengthy descriptions.  You can actually get a feel for the strength of the wind and the pounding of the rain through the characters and their reactions. Having set the last scene at the Blackstock Manor also gave it somewhat of a gothic feel, which is a bit different for this author.   

This novel investigates the discovery of a skeleton found inside a downed WWII plane, but Ruth soon realizes that the body and the plane don't match.  Considering the body had a bullet hole in his head, the investigation becomes partly cold case file / partly murder investigation and the case soon turns towards the Blackstock family.  I really enjoyed the historical discussions about the ghost fields and the numerous deserted air force bases that exist in the area, especially since this is an area of interest for me.  I thought the author did a really good job exploring the concept without being preachy, making the information really interesting.  Exploring the political intrigues was quite interesting as an American company decided to film the event from a human interest perspective; so many liberties were taken with the actual truth and blended with legends that it makes me wonder how often that is actually done on television today.  Is it worth actually watching documentaries, or are they as mangled as what is shown in this novel?  

The Ghost Fields continues the intriguing drama between Ruth and Nelson, and continues to explore some interesting archaeological pursuits for Ruth. While I really enjoyed the atmosphere in this novel and liked exploring the history of the deserted air force bases, I did think the actually mystery was a bit thin and lacked the usual flair I'm used to seeing from these novels.  I think it is easy to overlook however, as there is so much going on otherwise, but this novel is a crime novel and I can't lose that perspective either.  I do like that it takes time to investigate these crimes and that months go by as it curdles my stomach when a crime is solved in several hours using all of this forensic analysis when I am not even sure how they even managed to ship it to a lab in those few hours.  This is much more realistic in terms of an investigation.  Ruth continues to be one of my favourite characters and I was so glad that she wasn't complaining about her weight and her looks so much in this one; it made her that much more likeable.  I am definitely looking forward to book 8 when it is released.