Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: The Dark Angel by Elly Griffiths

The Dark Angel (Ruth Galloway, Book #10)
by Elly Griffiths
Release Date: May 15th 2018
2018 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0544750326
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Dr Ruth Galloway is flattered when she receives a letter from Italian archaeologist Dr Angelo Morelli, asking for her help. He's discovered a group of bones in a tiny hilltop village but doesn't know what to make of them. It's years since Ruth has had a holiday, and even a working holiday to Italy is very welcome!

So Ruth travels to Fontana Liri, accompanied by her daughter Kate and friend Shona. In the town she finds a medieval shrine and a dark secret involving the war years and the Resistance. To her amazement she also finds Harry Nelson, who is enduring a terrible holiday at a resort nearby. But there is no time to overcome their mutual shock - the ancient bones spark a modern murder, and Ruth must discover what secrets there are in Fontana Liri that someone would kill to protect.

My Thoughts
The Dark Angel is the tenth book in the Ruth Galloway series, and while I enjoyed the development of the characters and some of the story line, I wasn't overly crazy about the mystery and the archaeological part was not up to this author's usual standards.  I tend to have a love/hate relationship with these books anyways, some I absolutely adore, and others, well...enough said.  For me, while I loved the setting and thought the characters were quite quirky and interesting, the story just didn't draw me in like it usually does, and Nelson kind of drove me crazy as well.

First of all, what I have always liked in these books is the character development.  All of the characters are usually quite interesting and have their personal quirks which I really, really like.  Sometimes, it can be taken a bit too far, and as a reader, you just go, REALLY?, but you move on and try to accept it.  I'm not quite sure how Ruth and Shona are best friends though, as they really don't seem to have a lot in common, and sometimes I think the author just includes Shona so that Ruth has a babysitter at her convenience to fit the story line.  The author does use Shona quite a bit to point out Ruth's so-called deficiencies and I really wish she would just let that go already.  I think there are better ways to mention that Ruth feels self-conscious without constantly comparing her to Shona.  Besides, I think it sends a bad message to women who are trying to feel comfortable in their own skin and to accept who they are.

While I liked the story line, this is a mystery novel and the actual mystery doesn't start until halfway through the book.  The rest is really just an interesting story about Ruth vacationing in Italy on the pretense of looking at some old bones, but except for one scene, there is very little mention of the bones and what is happening with them.  It is simply a set-up for another mystery that goes back decades, involves half the town, and is really about the fact that even small towns have deadly secrets they don't want revealed.  That being said, most of the story is about Ruth going to the beach, to the pool, to a party, or watching a Disney DVD with the children, or even about the food.

The mystery itself is about a priest who is murdered and Ruth just happens to be the person who finds the body.  Nelson has no jurisdiction in Italy (yes, he shows up there, in the lamest excuse in the world) and tries to help out.  But there is really no investigation as the Italian police manage quite fine on their own.  There really wasn't enough to keep my interest, and I found myself drifting a few times while reading.  As for Nelson, this little menage-a-trois really needs to go into the past and stay there as its getting old fast.  First of all, I didn't really liked Nelson's attitude when he discovered that Ruth had taken Kate to Italy without telling him. No offense, but he's still married to Michelle and really has to rights when it comes to Ruth and telling her what to do especially as she has full custody. Second, the little love interest with Michelle is also getting old.  All of these people are cheating on each other and the story just goes on an on in each book.  However, I did not see one resolution to the convoluted love lives of these people coming and I am wondering where the author will take this next.  Hopefully, it won't take another five books to sort it out though.

The Dark Angel is one of those books where I was so disappointed in the lack of archaeology as well as the lack of historical information.  I would have liked to have known more about Angelo's grandfather's role in the Resistance and Samir, the most interesting character, was left with the weakest story line.  Now that would have been some interesting stuff.  The whole Italian story line just kind of bombed for me and I wasn't overly impressed.  I love Ruth, but I do think the author needs to really think about where she is headed and what she wants to focus on; I think there is too much focus on the convoluted love affairs of these people and she has lost track of what is really interesting in these books, the intriguing archaeological mysteries.  I really hope these last couple of books were just little bumps in the road or I really think the next one, if it's like this one, will probably be my last, which is so sad.