09. The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths

This book hit me right in the feels. I didn’t know whether I was coming or going. This book took me on a roller coaster of intrigue, haunting murder and unexpected surprise.

The synopsis is as follows:

Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway discovers the bones aren’t as old as originally thought, it’s time for DCI Nelson to launch a murder inquiry. What was initially just a medieval curiosity has taken a much more sinister nature…

Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone ‘underground’. This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the stories both Ruth and the police have heard of a vast community of rough sleepers living in the old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich, the clues point in only one direction. Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history – but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?

As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart – before it claims another victim.

This was unexpectedly creepy, addictive and emotional.

Ability to read – I was so here for this book that I didn’t stop to think about how my ability to read was affecting the story. This was a page-turner with a capital P. I am constantly amazed by how Elly Griffiths manages to keep her books fresh and interesting nine books into the series. I feel like all I do is sing her praises but it’s like gold dust when you find an author you just click with. It has been a fair few years since I’ve fallen in love with an author and a series of books. This series bought back some hope and excitement to reading.

This instalment gave me chills. There was something about the plot line that both made me want to read on and made me want to stop. It was different and emotional and had a high intensity. It was fun to read something a little different – in my opinion – for a Ruth Galloway mystery.

Characterisation – Here I felt that Clough got the recognition he deserved. I always see him as a fun loving jokey detective Sargent. He has always represented the light of Nelson’s police team. Seeing him in a different light here made me appreciate his character more. I felt that in seeing his vulnerable side it bought me closer to the character and made him appear more real and human. I generally felt for Clough at the most distressing moment of his life and wanted to be the hand that comforted him while he was going through a particularly painful part of life.

Equally I didn’t think I’d get as close to Cassandra as I did. For me, she’d been a secondary character since ‘The Ghost Fields’ and one I wasn’t sure would be around for long. I’m glad that Cassandra and Clough found each other because they balance each other very well and bring out sides of their characters that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise.

I thought Babs was an especially interesting character. Definitely a character I wanted to know more about and Elly Griffiths was able to make her a character to be invested in and a character that I immediately liked without giving too much of her life away. Babs had so much mystery surrounding her and for a long time I didn’t even think I’d get to meet her in this book. She was the catalysis that bought all the characters together and because a piece of hope in the darkness surrounding the characters at their most vulnerable.

Visualisation – It was slightly creepy how easy it was to visualise everything, especially with so much mystery going on around the main plot. I thought the plot premise here was a little more sinister than others in the series and it was interesting to see what visuals the descriptions and details prompted from my brain. There was just the right amount of guessing to be had within the details and descriptions to keep me on my toes but not too much that I got weighted down and bored.

Uniqueness – For me, one of the things I find unique about this is the fact that I’m still interested in the series after nine books. I’m still interested in Ruth Galloway’s life and still want to see what situations she finds herself in and what predicaments her social life sends her way. I’ve come to care for all the characters involved in this series and am still eager to see how the develop and see what tries to strike them down. Elly Griffiths is an extraordinary writer – to me – and is able to keep the life of Ruth Galloway interesting and writes time after time some great crime novels.

Hannah xoxo

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