When I read a Ruth Galloway book, I have to keep reminding myself that this is more of a character study and a history lesson and that the murder and those responsible are secondary. The people are what drive Elly Griffiths’ books and what keep bringing me back.
Ruth is feeling restless again, so when a letter arrives posthumously from an old college friend, Ruth’s curiosity is piqued especially when a cryptic message leads Ruth to believe that an archaeological discovery could be the Raven King another name for King Arthur. Since Dan’s death has been declared a homicide, Ruth cannot help herself from getting involved particularly when she starts reminiscing about the good old days.
Having been asked to examine the recently discovered bones, Ruth, Kate and Cathbad head to Lancashire. She is not prepared for what she must face. Her life is in danger when an extremist group does not want her to reveal what she had discovered regarding the bones, but that does not stop Ruth, after all, she is the Head of Forensic Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk and preserving the past must come first.
Everyone in this story has a secret. DCI Nelson is there trying to keep Kate’s parentage a secret from his mother, Cathbad is trying to keep his feeling for two women a secret, a college campus is trying to keep the membership of a radical sect, the White Hand, a secret. What were Pendragon’s secrets that caused him to do what he did?
This was a very meandering story until chapter 32 when Cathbad calls Ruth. I swear I did not take a breath until that chapter and the next were over. Holy heck was that some intense writing.
By the end, when you see the true dysfunctionality of this group of professors and associates, you begin to wonder how any educating went on in this small college in the middle of nowhere. Suffice it to say, there are some major shenanigans going on in this place.
There are many characters introduced, so I suggest that you take your time and get familiar with each so when they pop up again in unlikely places you will not be like me shuffling back and forth trying to remember how each fit into the finale.