The Stone Circle: Book summary and reviews of The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

The Stone Circle

Ruth Galloway Mysteries

by Elly Griffiths

The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths X
The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths
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  • Published in USA  May 2019
    368 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

In a chilling entry to the award-winning Ruth Galloway series, she and DCI Nelson are haunted by a ghost from their past, just as their future lands on shaky ground.

DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters. They are anonymous, yet reminiscent of ones he has received in the past, from the person who drew him into a case that's haunted him for years. At the same time, Ruth receives a letter purporting to be from that very same person—her former mentor, and the reason she first started working with Nelson. But the author of those letters is dead. Or is he?

The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This superb series (The Dark Angel, 2018, etc.) never disappoints. Its patented combination of mysterious circumstances, police procedure, and agonizing relationship problems will keep you reading, and feeling, all night." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The continuing lack of resolution in Ruth and Nelson's relationship may wear on even the most patient readers. Still, fans of forensic mysteries will find plenty to like." - Publishers Weekly

"Griffiths' fans who reach each of her inevitably complex endings wishing for still more will be pleased with a note in her acknowledgments: 'I don't think I have nearly exhausted all the myths and legends of East Anglia, let alone its archaeological wonders.' See ya soon, Ruth!" - Booklist

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Cloggie Downunder

Another excellent dose of archaeology-laced Norfolk crime
The Stone Circle is the eleventh book in the Ruth Galloway series by award-winning British author, Elly Griffiths. Nearly a decade ago, DCI Harry Nelson was the recipient of some anonymous letters that hampered his search for two missing girls. The writer of those letters, archaeologist Erik Anderssen, is dead. But now Harry and then Ruth, receive similar letters, exhorting them to “rescue the innocent buried” in the stone circle. Harry believes they have same mocking, erudite, menacing tone, but Ruth feels they are more benign.

Is it a coincidence that Erik’s son, Leif, also an archaeologist, has turned up at the same time? He’s conducting a new dig in the Saltmarsh near where, back then, the body of one of the missing girls was found. Harry doesn’t believe in coincidence. And that dig is exactly where they now find the body of a girl, missing for over thirty years. It’s a cold case that’s going to open up old wounds and raise old suspicions.

Both Ruth and Harry are still distracted by an attraction upon which they cannot act: Nelson has a wife, two adult daughters and now, a new baby boy, so he’s unlikely to jeopardise his marriage; Ruth accepts that but is unable (and perhaps unwilling?) to avoid encounters with the father of her seven-year-old daughter, Kate. Then the murder of a suspect in their cold case has Harry’s team redoubling their efforts without making much headway, when suddenly a missing newborn takes precedence.

Once again, Griffiths gives the reader an intriguing mystery full of twists, misdirections, red herrings and a number of possible suspects to keep the reader guessing right up to the final chapters. The circumstances of each disappearance are described from multiple perspectives by the many people involved, each with subtle differences as they are asked to try to recall any little detail that might not seem important. And it’s one of those little details that provides the critical clue.

Her characters, with all their flaws and quirks, are mostly appealing and easily believable. Ruth’s inner monologue is an utter delight: a little (but not too) self-deprecating, wry, insightful, and occasionally a bit cynical. Her ever-critical sister-in-law has foisted a Fitbit upon her: “Ruth fears that her relationship with the Fitbit is already an unhealthy one. She worries about its good opinion of her (otherwise why not take it off?) but she also resents its chirpy bullying. ‘Almost there! You’ve nailed your step target for the day!’ Never trust anyone, or anything, that uses that many exclamation marks.”

And while our heroine may be wearing a Fitbit, her enthusiasm for exercise has not changed: “Ruth scrapes her windscreen with her gym membership card. It’s the most use it ever gets.” Harry, meanwhile, is still working on getting his political correctness right and those alternative types remain hard to accept: “Nelson always finds it hard to imagine Cathbad sleeping. Somehow he pictures him hanging from the ceiling like a bat.” In this installment, his paternal instincts have him threatening to kill someone.

This novel reads well as a stand-alone, but there are quite a lot of references to earlier cases and thus spoilers for earlier books if readers are intending to read the series. In particular, this novel refers back to The Crossing Places in detail, so it is advisable to read that one first. Another excellent dose of archaeology-laced Norfolk crime that will have readers eagerly anticipating Ruth’s next outing. Recommended.
This unbiased review is from an uncorrected proof copy provided by NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers.

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Author Information

Elly Griffiths Author Biography

Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series. She is the recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award and the CWA Dagger in the Library Award, and her work has been praised as "gripping" (Louise Penny), "captivating," (Wall Street Journal) and "must-reads for fans of crime fiction" (Associated Press). She lives in Brighton, England.

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