06. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

I have loved this series since I discovered it in late 2017. Elly Griffiths has become one of my favourite authors to read and I have loved reading every instalment of Dr Ruth Galloway and watching as her character develops.

Here is the synopsis for the book:

Ruth has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, which was once a prison. The body may be that of Victorian murderess Jemima Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged for the murder of five children.

DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-ago killers. Investigating the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home, he’s convinced that their mother is responsible.

Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case, and back towards Nelson.

I thought this book in particular was very haunting and creepy in a ‘page turner edge of your seat’ way.

Ability to read – There is an ease with this series where it doesn’t matter how long a gap between books you have, you can drop yourself right back in from the first page. That’s what I feel when I read this book (it had been 6 months since I’d read a book in the series) and I love how easy it is to pick up where I left and not find any confusion. I find the Ruth Galloway series easy to read, nothing about the language or structure is difficult to read.

I think sometimes that crime novels become too wrapped up in the science or factual police crime aspect that can make reading difficult or boring. Elly Griffiths manages to avoid both these icebergs as she leads us on tale after tale of mystery, murder and discovery.

There are many characters in the series and through the course of the books we learn more and more about them. Having so many characters works well in this series and doesn’t make it chaotic at all. You can still hear all the individual voices at play.

Characterisation – I feel like I learnt more about Ruth in this book and it showed more of her relationship with Kate and those around her. For all Ruth goes on about being happy at the edge of the world and being anti-social, she does have a good group of friends who are there for her and vice versus. I felt that this book showed a more vulnerable side of Judy, who is so often a straight-laced character. Watching her as her child had been taken was so heart-wrenching but also showed her vulnerable side which I felt had been missing for quite some while.

It is always interesting to watch all these characters come together and when I read about Ruth now, I see how far she has come from the first book. I find Ruth very relatable, from her views of her work at the university, to her relationships (platonic and romantic) and to her relationship with her family. I think she is a well-rounded character that many people can relate to. She’s a character that draws you into the story and makes you want to stay and find out what will happen.

The dynamic between Ruth and Nelson is always intriguing. There are many layers to their relationship and many unspoken words and moments. I feel strongly for the both of them and am sure – like many – wish for a world where they can be together. I think the way they play off each other is ingenious. I like how they’ve been through so much together and survived so much and are still able to be civil and remain friends – most of the time.

Visualisation – It is always easy to visualise Ruth Galloway’s life and I think that comes from the easiness of the writing. I have never been to Norfolk or Norwich so know nothing of the landscape of national heritage sites. My limited knowledge of the area doesn’t limit my experience of reading. I am able to construct a good visual landscape for the book I’m reading. The Ruth Galloway series has the ability to whisk me away for a couple of hours, regardless of where I am in the real world, I can escape to the world of Ruth Galloway very easily there is never a point that jolts me out or causes boredom or frustration.

Uniqueness – The Ruth Galloway series will always be unique to me because each book if different while still staying true to the series. I never guess the killer, I’m often wrong in my assumptions of what is going to happen and with each book I am surprised by the ending. The Outcast Dead was definitely more haunting than books before but I think the spookiness came from the inclusion of missing children and the sinister sounding ‘Mother Hook’. I enjoyed how the additional characters like Judy, Clough and Michelle are coming to the foreground more and being involved in the main story more than as just background characters.

Hannah xoxo

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