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The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

The Ghost Fields

by Elly Griffiths

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It is July 2013 as The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery by Elly Griffiths begins. For Barry West, who drives a digger (backhoe), it is a hot day in Norfolk, England and much like any other day. The fact that the land on which he rips asunder has been the site of many battles and the spillage of blood by the injured and dying means nothing to him. All that matters is clearing the land as developer Edward Spens wants it done as fast as possible. There is going to be a bit of a delay as Barry West is about to find a vintage WW II plane with the pilot still inside buried in one of the craters on the land.

That finding will bring the police and that includes DCI Nelson. It also means he will call Dr. Ruth Galloway and interrupt her day. Not with a concerned call about their daughter, Kate, but as a colleague seeking her expert opinion. She will have to leave the nearby dig where her and her student team has recently a found a body that possibly dates back to the Bronze Age. A body that was there two thousand years before the Romans lived, fought, and died on the very soil she and her students dig through as they work to unearth history. Since she assists the North Norfolk Serious Crimes Unit as a forensic archeologist, the discovery of a body in a WWII plane is going to have to take priority over her research work.

Upon arrival at the scene, it does not take Dr. Galloway long before she thinks something very strange is going on. Not only is the American war plane in far better shape than one would think if it crashed, the soil around the aircraft is loose. Even accounting for the heavy equipment digging around the aircraft before it was discovered, the soil is far looser than one would expect. The body also is in far better shape than one would expect for being submerged in chalky soil. Not to mention the fact the body is sitting in the seat with hands on the flight stick. Clearly, the body was moved and posed for some reason. The fact that there is a bullet hole smack in the middle of his forehead further proves Dr. Galloway’s point that is not an crash related to the nearby American airbase that was last active during the war.

Who did and why are just two of the many mysteries at work in The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery. Seventh in the series that began with The Crossing Places, this read is full of mystery and history regarding the role of Americans based in England during the war. As one expects in the series there is continuing and evolving character development that continues to move the series forward.

The characters in the series are not static pieces that never change as years pass. Ruth is 45 and and her daughter Kate is approaching her fifth birthday while things continue to change. They have their turning points in the book, as do nearly all the secondary characters. A lot is in play here relationship wise. Then there are the mysteries with multiple ones present beyond the ones explained above.

In short, another good read in a very good series despite a couple of clichéd points that many readers will see coming long before they happen. One can’t really explain what without creating a spoiler or two, but one situation is so classic it may generate a laugh out loud moment as it did for this reader. Despite that fact, the book is a good one. A series that one simply has to read in order, The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery is a highly entertaining read that blends history and mystery together in a very satisfactory way.

The Ghost Fields: A Ruth Galloway Mystery
Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
May 2015
ISBN# 978-0-544-33014-6
Hardback (also available in paperback, audio, and eBook formats)
384 Pages

Material obtained via the Plano Public Library System to read and review.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2017 ( )
  kevinrtipple | Sep 1, 2017 |
Ghost Fields is the seventh book in the Ruth Galloways erie Ruth is a 45 year old self described overweight forensic archaeologist who works primarily for the University of North Norfolk. She and Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson have teamed up on several occasions to help solve crimes. They also have a five year old daughter, Kate, despite Harry's marriage to the beautiful Michelle. Michelle allows Harry to see Kate but insists that Harry only see Ruth in a professional capacity.

Ruth is digging at a Bronze Age burial site when she gets a call from Harry that there’s a plane buried in a field nearby. Probably from the Second World War, the aircraft still holds the body of the pilot When Ruth notices a bullet hole in the middle of the pilot's forehead the plane becomes a crime scene. It also looks like someone has been digging in a local pet cemetery recently and Harry begins to wonder if the skeleton has been recently moved.

There are plenty of suspects, especially those from Blackstock Hall, where we meeting Old George, his son Young George, his wife, Sally, and his grandchildren, Chaz and Cassandra. When the body is identified as Old George's brother, Fred, we also bring in American Nell Blackstock and her husband. A television crew is interested in filming a story about the lost hero found in the plane and that brings Frank Barker back into Ruth's circle.

I really like this series, with its well-drawn characters who seem very much like real people. Druid Cathbad now married to Judy, Dave Clough and Tim all have their own stories to tell, which adds an interesting dimension to the story. As always, the book grips from the beginning and draws the reader into a fascinating blend of crime and history. I'm a huge fan of this series but wouldn't recommend this as the first one you read. Many of the recurring characters have stories that would be better if you've read a few of the previous book. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Aug 9, 2017 |
Review: The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths. 07/20/2017

This was a great book, well written and very creative characters. I only read one other of Ruth Galloway’s Series and after reading this one I believe I have caught up with what happened before the fourth book. I have a feeling I will be reading another one of Griffith’s books soon. She is a wonderful writer who weaves all elements of the story in an organized, descriptive style to where you want to keep reading.

Ruth Galloway is a forensic archeologist who is a professor at the University of Norfolk and lives out on the wet marshes in a nice home as a single mother with her five-year-old daughter. Ruth is working at the Bronze Age Burial Site where her team found one body so far and believes there are more. Not far from her site was another company digging to clear some land for the construction of some buildings. The land use to be own by the Estate of The Blackstock family who live in a mansion on the attached land they sold.

While digging the crew found a buried war plane with a preserved dead body so that put a stop to the construction. They believe some family member of the Blackstock stage the scene because they didn’t want the land developed. Galloway went over to take a look at the plane and the body inside. Tests were done on the pilot and they learned it was Fred Blackstock who was assumed to have crashed his plane during the war in the middle of the ocean. They realized the body was buried in the ground somewhere on the estate but recently dug up and place in the plane. When news got around about the find a producer wanted to make a film about Norfolk’s deserted air force bases, called the ghost fields which the Blackstocks had converted years ago into a pig farm. Plus, now with the discovery of Fred Blackstock they wanted to include him in the film.

Fred had left the estate years ago and went to the United States and became an American pilot during the war. He never liked Norfolk and he was not bonded to his two brothers, one still lives on the estate but the third brother also left years ago and they believed he died living an heir, who later shows up. There is so much to this story that fascinated me and I enjoyed reading about different events, personalities of family members, and how it all came together at the end. It was quite an adventure unfolding family secrets and why the came about…. ( )
  Juan-banjo | Jul 23, 2017 |
A body is found in a world war two aircraft buried in a field in Norfolk. The body is that of a pilot who went missing on a mission during the war, the only problem is that he was not in the plane he was found in and has been buried for the last sixty years elsewhere. What is the link to a local society family and what dark secrets are they hiding?
I have to be honest and say that I really like Elly Griffiths' books. They are not high literature, they are not intricately plotted but they are very enjoyable and this is no exception. The characters are well-developed now as this book is the latest in a line of novels but it would be possible to read as a stand-alone as a little back-story is given to bring the reader up-to-date. The story of the American airforce in Norfolk is an unusual setting but works extremely well, juxtaposing the local politics with an strong historical perspective. ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
This was a good mystery. I liked the atmosphere. Very descriptive of place. It seemed clear to me that I should have read these in order, there were lots of illusions to previous stories. I had read the first book, but somehow missed the ones in between. I'd like to get to know these characters better. ( )
  njcur | May 4, 2017 |
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I hate the dreadful hollow behind the little wood,
Its lips in the field above are dabbled with blood-red heath.
The red-ribb'd ledges drip with a silent horror of blood.
And Echo there, whatever is ask'd her, answers "Death."

Alfred Tennyson, Maud
For Sheila and Ian Lewington
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It is the hottest summer for years. (Prologue)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0544330145, Hardcover)

The chilling discovery of a downed World War II plane with a body inside leads Ruth and DCI Nelson to uncover a wealthy family’s secrets in the seventh Ruth Galloway mystery.

Norfolk is suffering from record summer heat when a construction crew unearths a macabre discovery—a downed World War II plane with the pilot still inside. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn’t possibly be the pilot, and DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea. When the remaining members of the Blackstock family learn about the discovery, they seem strangely frightened by the news.

Events are further complicated by a TV company that wants to make a film about Norfolk’s deserted air force bases, the so-called Ghost Fields, which have been partially converted into a pig farm run by one of the younger Blackstocks. As production begins, Ruth notices a mysterious man lurking on the outskirts of Fred Blackstock’s memorial service. Then human bones are found on the family’s pig farm. Can the team outrace a looming flood to find a killer?

Laced with dry humor and anchored by perennial fan favorite Ruth, The Ghost Fields will delight fans new and old.

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 14 Apr 2015 01:16:04 -0400)

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