It’s a Mystery: A Dying Fall, by Elly Griffiths

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

“People everywhere need ritual and make believe to get them through their lives.” So muses a cop during Ruth Galloway’s latest predicament. And there’s plenty of both in A Dying Fall. Archaeologist Dan Golding, college classmate of Ruth’s twenty years ago, dies horribly in a house fire near the seaside resort of Blackpool. Ruth is notified, and the very next day, receives a letter from Dan, asking her to collaborate on his latest discovery, which promises to be a blockbuster. Could he have found the grave of King Arthur? She decides to take a holiday to look into matters, traveling with her toddler daughter and fellow archaeologist and good friend Cathbad. As is the nature of things in such novels, there is someone who very much wants to keep the great discovery a secret as dark as the grave. And there is no dearth of suspects.

Druids, police, and academics populate these pages, attempting to ascertain who murdered Dan, while Ruth attempts to pin down exactly what he excavated at Ribchester, site of an ancient Roman fort. The waters are muddied by the hovering presence of a clandestine secret society, with a racist agenda and a deep fascination with King Arthur. Into the mix, Ms. Griffiths inserts several love triangles and midlife emotional issues. A Dying Fall is a tightly crafted, engrossing mystery with several sequences of gripping tension and a bittersweet ending that leaves the reader wondering what’s in store for Ruth and company.


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