Ruth Galloway is a wonderful character, real and ordinary in a very special way. She is passionate about her job, loves her daughter, has a very complicated relationship with Harry Nelson, DCI in King's Lynn. She is saddened to learn that her old friend, Dan Golding, has been killed. She's shocked to receive a letter from Dan the day after she learns of his death. Dan's letter tells of a fantastic discovery that he thinks he has made, the bones of The Raven King, aka King Arthur. However, Dan also says that he is very afraid. After hearing from Clayton Henry, Dan's boss at Pendle University, Ruth travels to the northern regions along with Kate and Cathbad, her Druid friend. What she finds is a secret group of Arthur fanatics, tales of the Pendle witches, a conspiracy known as the White Hand, and DCI Nelson, on vacation, visiting family and his old work colleagues.
Elly Griffiths did a good job taking the reader away from Norfolk and Ruth's beloved salt marshes. We get to see a bit more of Nelson's past history and we get to spend time learning about Blackpool, The Pendle Forest, and all the hoopla that surrounds this seaside pleasure spot. There are rides of all kinds, Nickelodean World, sand castles, and murder. It's always a pleasure to see the interaction between Ruth and Nelson, even though they still are not quite sure what they are to each other.
Little Kate is a joy to read about. She loves Dora the Explorer and her toy cars and trains. She makes her mother crazy by rushing to the phone when it rings and answering by saying, "Piss!", which means "peace", a greeting taught to her by her godfather, Cathbad. And, of course, she loves to dig in the mud. Budding archaeologist.
The mystery unfolds in a meandering manner for much of the book, kind of like a relaxing vacation. However, the action ramps up, another body is found, and Ruth, who has been receiving anonymous texts with warnings to go home, is terrified as little Kate goes missing.
This is a great series. I encourage everyone to try it. The first book is The Crossing Places. If you like books about bones and digs and interesting settings, legends and the sea, a protagonist that is not a size 0 and a regular person that you could share a coffee with, this is the one. I'll be picking up the next book in the series soon, The Outcast Dead.