Thursday, January 21, 2021

Review: The Lantern Men by Elly Griffiths

by Elly Griffiths
Release Date: July 14th 2020
2020 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardcover Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-0358237044
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

Everything has changed for Dr Ruth Galloway.

She has a new job, home and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police's resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Amyas March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal. Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried - but only if Ruth will do the digging.

Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.

Is Amyas March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?
My Thoughts  
The Lantern Men is the next book in the Ruth Galloway mystery series.  I have reviewed these book since the first book appeared all those years ago and I have always, always loved the archaeological aspects of these books and how they tie into the legends around the area, and this one was just as much fun to read as the previous entries when it came to interesting tidbits of information.  One of these days I am going to visit more of the areas mentioned.  What took me long to get to this book this time had nothing to do with the mystery or the archaeology, but was wrapped up in the bloody triangular affair that exists between Ruth, Nelson, and his wife, and it was driving me crazy.  I was hoping at the end of the last book we would have seen the end of it as Ruth was moving to Cambridge with a new man, but nope, right back in the middle of that mess, and frankly, we really need to move on.  

First of all, the actual mystery was fun and engaging and I enjoyed it tremendously.  I like the fact that Judy is now a DI and more focus seems to be on her investigations as I always thought she was an interesting character and more focus should be on her character development.  Judy was actually lead on the case that put the main suspect in jail a few years ago so I thought that was interesting.  

I have always enjoyed the way the author is able to weave a police investigation with local legends and folk tales; this story focuses on the lantern men legend of which I knew just a little so naturally I did some research.  Some fascinating stuff there.  As a kid I would have loved that legend, the creepiness of it, and even as an adult it fascinates me.  All the elements of a creepy ghost story there.  That being said though, I did think the ending was a bit far fetched and I'm not sure I quite bought it. 

I have always loved Ruth as a character simply because she is not your typical female protagonist.  Although she is brilliant and famous as an archaeologist, she suffers from self-esteem issues and constantly compares herself to other women and comes up short.  She is so relatable as her personal life seems to always be in shambles, while her professional life is always so together.  In this book, Ruth starts having panic attacks which tell us that not everything is perfect in her world; she is currently living and working in Cambridge, and while she appears to have the ideal job and home life, perhaps all is not as it seems.  Trying to figure out exactly what one wants in life is a journey and I have enjoyed Ruth's journey as she navigates what she thought she wanted with what she really wanted and hid from herself.  We have all done that on occasion.  

Where this book fails me, yet again, is the intrusion of Nelson and his jealousy where it concerns Ruth.  For so many books we have dealt with this issue and I personally am ready to move on from this menage-a-trois situation with Nelson, his wife, and Ruth.  Oh, I get the feelings and the emotions, but either resolve it, or just move on.  The constant pining that lies underneath everything does mar the really good mystery in this book and that's a shame.  

The Lantern Men was a fun and interesting mystery spun around a fascinating folk tale.  I enjoyed the twists and turns of the hunt for the killer, but did think the solution was a bit far-fetched and unrealistic. As always, I love the characters in this book, Ruth is one of my favourites which is why I come back to these books again and again, but the love triangle has got to go.  I am quite happy with Ruth's decisions at the end of the book, but quite sad for someone else as I liked his character.  Although not really necessary, I do recommend reading these books from the beginning as you get a better understanding of the relationships between the characters.  Enjoy!


  1. i do enjoy a good mystery. great review
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. Thanks everyone! I love this series, and I love the mystery, but I just wish the author would get on with the love triangle. It was fascinating at first, but after many books, it's getting old.