Sunday, November 28, 2021

Review: The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

by Elly Griffiths
Release Day: June 29, 2021
2021 Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-0358237051
Audiobook: B08YM44JDZ
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk. At first Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons. Nelson at first thinks that Taylor's death is accidental drowning, but a second death suggests murder.

Nelson is called to an apparent murder-suicide of a couple at the isolated Black Dog Farm. Local legend talks of the Black Shuck, a spectral hound that appears to people before they die. Nelson ignores this, even when the owner's suicide note includes the line, 'He's buried in the garden.' Ruth excavates and finds the body of a giant dog.
My Thoughts
The Night Hawks is the next entry in the long-running Ruth Galloway mystery series and I definitely enjoyed it a lot more than the previous entry for several reasons.  The mystery was solid, the author didn't focus as much on the relationship between Ruth and Nelson, and Ruth was back home.  I love the setting of North Norfolk and the legends, and always look forward to the way the author incorporates those legends into her stories.  
First of all, I have always loved Ruth and her fierce desire to remain independent.  Yes, she might be lonely at times and yearns for companionship, but her relationship with Frank has taught her not to just settle for something just because she yearns for it.  Which is why she back home where she belongs.  Ruth can also be a bit snarky, but those are her inner thoughts we hear and I love how those thoughts often conflict with how she has to behave.  It makes her so much more real and I can definitely relate to how she is feeling a lot of the time.  Nelson, naturally, yearns for what he cannot have, and I am looking forward to the day when this whole thing finally rears its ugly head and erupts.  It has gone on for so long, and has been such a central focus of the books, that it has actually mired down previous books in my opinion.  Luckily, it was not really the central focus of this book. I really enjoyed Nelson's mother and would love to see more of her in future books.  What can I say? Mothers are definitely full of wisdom and surprises.  

And Cathbad, dear Cathbad.  I will always be a huge fan of this character and love the scenes when he appears.  He is so full of local legend and knowledge, and always seems to know exactly what to say to those around him.  And then there is a new character, David Brown, an archaeology lecturer who works with Ruth.  Abrasive, nosy, and totally annoying, but someone I really warmed up to by the end of the book.  I am looking forward to learning his story and seeing more of him in future books.

The writing style and plot were good, and the character development was great.  I like that the author doesn't sacrifice character development for plot, and vice versa, all are equally balanced.  There were some things that did bother me, things the police overlooked, but this was to further plot development.  It was jarring though, and didn't quite sit well with me.  It made no sense that the police would not search the entire premises when a murder has occurred, including all files, and discover some of the things that Ruth discovered.  There were a couple of other things as well, but to mention them would be spoilers so I will leave it to you to figure them out.  But, as I mentioned, it did niggle at the back of my brain, and I didn't quite buy into the fact these things would be overlooked.

The Night Hawks was a solid entry into the series, and I enjoyed the introduction of a new character to the mix.  I love how the author manages to mix local legends into her stories so we learn more about the background historical details which are quite interesting.  I am glad to see that Ruth and Nelson's relationship didn't take central focus and allowed the actual mystery to be the main feature and strength of this book, allowing her other characters to have the limelight as well. I am definitely looking forward to the next book, The Locked Room, in this series which releases June 2022.