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Monday, March 23, 2015

The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

The Outcast Dead is the 6th book in Elly Griffiths' series featuring Dr. Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist.  And I am now caught up with this series.  The next book will be published in May.  I loved the beginning of The Outcast Dead:

"And we ask your abundant blessing, Lord, on these, the outcast dead...Lord, you told us that not a sparrow falls without our Father in Heaven knowing.  We know that these people were known to you and loved by you..."

Ruth is attending a service for The Outcast Dead in Norwich.  Each year, this service is held to remember the poor, the prostitutes, the ones unknown and unloved that had been buried in mass graves in times past.  Ruth and her team have discovered some bones belonging to a woman who may be the infamous Jemima Green, otherwise known as Mother Hook.  And the skeleton indeed has a hook at the end of one of the arms.  Jemima Green was a convicted murderer of a young child and a horror story has grown up around the circumstances of her life and memorialized in a rhyme used to scare kids:

Don't cry little darling.
Don't cry little dear. 
Don't cry little darling.
Or Mother Hook will hear.

Ruth's boss is delighted with the possibility that the so-called Mother Hook has been found by his department.  There is a TV show scheduled that will include the discovery and Ruth gets dragged into the filming.  Meanwhile, DCI Harry Nelson is busy investigating a local family that has had their third child die unexpectedly.  He's not sure if the parents have had something to do with the death, but  before he can determine this, another child is in danger, abducted by a person who leaves a note signed, The Childminder.  Things become quite grim when someone else close to Nelson and Ruth is also taken.  Can Nelson solve the clues in time and how does all this connect with the Mother Hook discovery?

The whole of this book is concerned with parents, both mothers and fathers, mother's helpers, and their relationships with dear little children.  As this series has progressed, we've come to know and love so many characters.  And children have been born and lives have been changed by these kids.  We see in this book the fierce love that each of them have for their own children and indeed for the children of their colleagues as well.  They all step up and get involved when something unthinkable happens.  This author does a great job with making us care too.  The last quarter of the book was quite scary and I could not put it down.  And in the end, lives have been changed and mysteries solved.

I recommend this series so highly.  The settings are always vivid and the archaeology info is always quite interesting.  The next book, The Ghost Fields, will be coming out soon and I can't wait.

26 comments:

  1. I think I've heard of this series but didn't pick them up. Now after reading your review I'm quite intrigued with this book, as well as the others of this series. That said, it always hurt me to see children being hurt or murdered in books.

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    1. These books aren't graphic, Melody. And so addicting, at least for me. I'm happy there is a new one soon.

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  2. Good review, Kay. I'm behind with this series - I haven't read this one and now the next one will be out next week!

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    1. I'm glad to be caught up now, Margaret. Ready for the new one, which we won't get until May.

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  3. Definitely one of my all time favourite crime series. I like the fact that the stories are as much about Ruth and her personal situation as they are about crime solving. She's just a mum trying to cope with life and you can't help but feel for her. So pleased the next book is out soon.

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    1. You and me both, Cath! Yes, I love the characters here. I think that is what I like about series books - we get a chance to bond with the characters and participate in their lives - in a way.

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  4. I've recently finished The Ghost Fields and completely agree with your comments on this series. I always enjoy a mix of past and present and Elly Griffiths does it so well.

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    1. So looking forward to reading The Ghost Fields.

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  5. love, love, love this series. and one of my sons does too. so it certainly can appeal to a wide range of people.

    have the next book on hold, at library, for when it arrives.

    Tessa

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    1. Good for you, Tessa, getting in there early and putting that book on hold.

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  6. These books sound really good. I just ordered the first book from my library.

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  7. Another fan here! Have you read her non-Ruth Galloway book - The Zig-Zag Girl? I loved it too - set in the theatre world of stage magic just after WW2. You'd just have time to fit it in before The Ghost Fields comes out... ;)

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    1. I actually have an e-galley of it, but I won't be reading it for a while. It won't be published here in the US until the fall. Looking forward to it though.

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  8. Sounds interesting. I'll have to check this series out. Thanks for recommending it!

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    1. This is a really good series, Susan. You'd like it, I think.

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  9. This is one of the few series I'm also caught up with and I can't wait for the next installment. Love the characters. They just seem so real with flaws and good parts and just like normal people. So glad to hear you are enjoying this one too!

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    1. It's one of my top series right now.

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  10. I love this cover so much. One day I might get to it :)

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  11. I'm behind on this series and really really need to catch up. Ruth Galloway is such a great character. It sounds like I have several good books to look forward to!

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  12. I just recently finished The Janus Stone and am so enjoying this series! Thanks, once again, for the recommendation. Ruth Galloway is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters.

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    1. I'm glad you're liking Ruth and company. I've just loved her.

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  13. This series has been tempting me so I'm glad to know that not only is it good but it's getting better. Is this the one where she's an anthropologist or archaeologist? I have so many mystery series on my TBR I get confused sometimes!

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    1. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist. Sort of like Temperance Brennan, but I think she is an anthropologist. Anyway, there are bones and digs. LOL

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