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The House at Sea's End: Book summary and reviews of The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths

The House at Sea's End

A Ruth Galloway Mystery

by Elly Griffiths

The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths X
The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths
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  • Published Jan 2012
    384 pages
    Genre: Mysteries

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Book Summary

Elly Griffiths's Ruth Galloway novels have been praised as "highly atmospheric" (New York Times Book Review), "remarkable" (Richmond Times-Dispatch), and "gripping" (Louise Penny). Now the beloved forensic archeologist returns, called in to investigate when human bones surface on a remote Norfolk beach.  

Just back from maternity leave, Ruth is finding it hard to juggle motherhood and work. The presence of DCI Harry Nelson - the married father of her daughter, Kate - does not help. The bones turn out to be about seventy years old, which leads Nelson and Ruth to the war years, a desperate time on this stretch of coastland. Home Guard veteran Archie Whitcliffe reveals the existence of a secret that the old soldiers have vowed to protect with their lives. But then Archie is killed and a German journalist arrives, asking questions about Operation Lucifer, a plan to stop a German invasion, and a possible British war crime. What was Operation Lucifer? And who is prepared to kill to keep its secret?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Griffiths's third offers not only an excellent mystery but a continuing exploration of the lives of complex, sometimes unlovable characters." - Kirkus Reviews

"Gripping... [Ruth Galloway] is solitary plump and smart and self-assured, and very, very likeable." - Globe and Mail (UK)

"After just two books in this gripping series the central characters, forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson, have the allure of old friends, and it's great to find that the third title is just as enthralling as its predecessors." - The Guardian (UK)

"This is the third in the quirky, compelling series starring British forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway..." - Booklist

This information about The House at Sea's End was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

excellent British crime fiction
The House At Sea’s End is the third book in the Ruth Galloway series by award-winning British author, Elly Griffiths. Trace and Irish Ted lead a team of archaeologists conducting a survey on coastal erosion when one of them stumbles across what turns out to be a mass grave in a ravine under the cliff below the home of MEP Jack Hastings: six skeletons with bullet wounds, hands bound behind their backs.

Dr Ruth Galloway, back at work now that Kate is five months old, helps with the rush job to remove them before the tide takes them. The autopsies determine that the men were likely executed; Ruth estimated the remains are less than a century old, aged between 21 and 40; her tests reveal they were probably from Germany. A German journalist turns up on Ruth’s doorstep and gives them names.

DCI Harry Nelson has a historic multiple murder case on his hands, and something that the Hastings matriarch says sends him looking for members of the local Home Guard, one of whom is the grandfather of his Superintendent, Gerald Whitcliffe. These men would be his best chance for information about the deaths. It turns out, though, that of these old men, High Anselm, who alerted the journalist to the murders, has died recently, apparently of a stroke.

Archie Whitcliffe, when Nelson talks to him, says a few cryptic things, including something about a blood oath, things that cannot be later clarified when the man dies that night. His carer says his enigmatic last word was Lucifer, and Nelson is not convinced he died a natural death, which has him also wondering about Hugh Anselm’s demise.

As Nelson and the soon-to-be-married DS Judy Johnson search for elderly Broughton residents who might recall the events of almost seventy years previous, as they page through old parish bulletins and sort through Hugh Anselm’s papers, a body washes up on the beach, and it isn’t an accidental drowning or a fall from the cliff. It is beginning to look like someone wants the circumstances of the deaths to remain secret.

In this instalment, as well as digging up bones and lecturing students, Ruth endures (rather than enjoys) a hen party, solves a secret code, attends a wedding, irretrievably loses her mobile phone, is criticised for her mothering, and almost drowns. There’s both a naming ceremony and a baptism for baby Kate, a Bosnian archaeologist comes for a short stay, and Nelson gets the kiss of life. The final body count, if a historical suicide is included, runs to an even ten. And with lots of speculation going on, the secret of Kate’s paternity looks to be on thin ice. The fourth book, A Room Full Of Bones, is eagerly anticipated.

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Author Information

Elly Griffiths Author Biography

Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Brighton mystery series, as well as the standalone novels The Stranger Diaries, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and The Postscript Murders. She is the recipient of the CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in Brighton, England.

Author Interview
Link to Elly Griffiths's Website

Other books by Elly Griffiths at BookBrowse
  • The Stranger Diaries jacket

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