Mother Hook is going to get you

A review of Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths

I always enjoy Griffiths books and love Ruth Galloway, her forensic archaeologist protagonist. But I will admit to being happily relieved to like this one so much - since I found her last a bit disappointing (still good, but not my fav). Ruth is doing her usual scramble to keep up in her life. She is a professor of archaeology at a Norfolk University, a single mother to a toddler daughter, and has now been asked to participate in a documentary-type tv show about an archaeological find.

While examining the proposed site of a new parking lot for Norwich Castle, Ruth finds what could be the remains of one of the most infamous murderers in the area. The woman's body has a hook for one hand and she was clearly hanged and dumped in an unmarked grave. Everyone is sure the body is that of Mother Hook. Mother Hook was a childminder accused, convicted and hanged for the murder of children in her care in 1867. Since then she's been the subject of scary tales and used as the bogeyman to frighten children. Ruth's discovery has brought a television crew for a crime series. They want her to appear on the show discussing her find.

As Ruth struggles with putting her best foot/face forward for the cameras piecing together a 150-year-old crime, DCI Harry Nelson is investigating a modern-day mother who may have killed her own children. His investigation is interrupted by the disappearance of a girl from her home. The pressure is on to find her before it is too late. And it's not long before Ruth's investigations begin to overlap with Harry's.

What worked so well in this, Griffith's latest, is the fact that the mystery was strong and interesting. I love the ongoing struggles Ruth and her friends face in their personal lives and the ways in which they develop from book to book. But there has to be a good mystery at the heart of it all. And this one certainly has that.

Comments

I've enjoyed listening to her first four novels. Since I have visual problems, I listen rather than read books. The MPL and WPLC don't have audio versions of her fifth and sixth novels yet. I'll either wait or see about requesting OLL. Great series by an author. Thanks for your review.

So glad you've been enjoying listening to the series. We're going to get Dying Fall on CD, so keep an eye on the library catalog. Outcast Dead is not yet available in an audio format, but we will get it when it is.

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