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VINE VOICEon 1 August 2011
Elly Griffiths books are like my guilty pleasure without the guilt; I devour them and am always left wanting more.

The House at Sea's End is the third book in the Ruth Galloway series. Ruth is a Forensic Archaeologist who lives on the Norfolk coast and examines bones for a living, sometimes having to help the police in their serious crimes unit to establish what may have happened to bones that can't be immediately identified by the police. Ruth Galloway is one of my favourite crime heroines: she lives in a tiny cottage on a remote part of Norfolk by the salt marshes, she is slightly overweight, she has a cat, she reads lots of books and enjoys her own company - I heart Ruth! In this book, however, she has something other than serious crimes to concentrate on and that is motherhood. After a one-night stand with Detective Harry Nelson in the first book, Ruth has now given birth to Kate, whom turns out to be a whole mystery of her own. Of course, Nelson is back in this latest book too and I must admit to having a little crush on him.

The House at Sea's End brings us the mystery of six skeletons that are found by a team of Archaeologists in the cliff's on the Norfolk coast. Nelson and Ruth are amazed to discover that the bones are from Germany and could very well belong to German soldiers from WW2 - but how and why did they get there and who is trying to put them off the trail?

What I love about this series is that not only are these books great reading with a simplicity that makes me think of them as comfort reading (as opposed to hard-boiled crime fic) but the characters and so well drawn and developed throughout the books that I could read them for this alone; I just love following Ruth and Nelson's story and meeting back up with characters such as Cathbad; it's like meeting up with old friends. What I also love is the bleakness of the setting (and who can resist the covers for the books in this series?)
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on 24 January 2011
i was very impressed with this book. it is the best one in the series so far, and certainly the best written. with her previous two books i very much enjoyed the developing relationship between ruth and nelson, but i'm afaid the identity of the killers was a little too easy to spot. not so here. i really didn't have a clue or rather i was seduced by a red herring or two and found myself way off. however, the chief pleasures are to be found in the description of our heroine, her complicated relationship with nelson and a cast of very likeable supporting characters. the author really excels in this aspect of her writing and i can't wait for the next installment to see where we all end up, particularly after the implication of the book's closing paragraph.
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on 18 January 2011
Elly Griffiths hasn't disappointed us with her third book about Ruth, the forensic archaeologist. It rings so true about Ruth's struggle to combine motherhood with a career - a career that can plunge her into dangerous situations. Who would have thought bones could be so tricky? I couldn't put this book down, and was so sad when I had finished it, I started it again!
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on 23 March 2011
At best, I am a sporadic contributor to review forums, and when I do contribute it is almost always because I especially enjoyed the book in question. In this case, however, I'm provoked to put finger to keyboard simply because I disagree so comprehensively with those who have lavished praise upon a book which I consider to be one of the poorest crime novels I have read for some time.

I found the author's use of the present tense was at best an irritating distraction; at times, the writing feels more like a screenplay than a novel. I'm not against innovative writing, but in this case I simply didn't see the point of this stylised approach.

The characters did not seem to me to be at all well-drawn - they were far too stereotypical, lacking in depth and - at least through the eyes of this reviewer - too self-orientated to create any sense of empathy in the mind of the reader.

It's difficult to say anything substantive about the plot giving too much away - there isn't much there to start with. The basic concept of bodies rising from their graves to reveal wartime shenanigans is not new - there's a recent example in Ann Cleeves' 'Red Bones' - but the casting of the Home Guard as villains of the historic piece was, so far as I am aware, original. Unfortunately, it was also incredible. The identity of the modern murderer is difficult to guess simply because few, if any, legitimate clues are provided. There is a highly-contrived set-piece climax which is absolutely incomprehensible because even if it hadn't dramatically misfired it would have done little or nothing to protect the identity or advance the objectives of the killer.

Crime fiction always requires some degree of suspension of our innate credulity - after all, most of us go through our lives without tripping over murdered corpses - so, for example, we can readily cope with the fact that the murder rate in Peter Robinson's corner of rural North Yorkshire is much higher than in real-life inner cities. A satisfying crime novel doesn't push this suspension too far; it leaves us with at least a vague sense that the story just could have happened that way, even though we know perfectly well that it was pure fiction. The House at Sea's End went way beyond my credulity threshold.

In short, though I have been a lifetime fan of good crime fiction, I was entirely unimpressed by both the style and the content of this novel. My advice is to keep looking - there are plenty of much better reads out there.
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on 5 May 2012
I don't quite know what to say about this book as I had such high expectations for it. I enjoyed the story, as the relationship between Ruth and Nelson is becoming more involved and I think they are a really entertaining pair. However, for me most of the fascination with these stories is the forensic archaeology content and it's relation to police investigations plus the absorbing myths and legends. Here there wasn't so much. It was more of a murder mystery with connections to WW11 and while that was really good, I missed these elements. Usually it is book two which can fall flat which is not the case here; the Janus Stone was excellent. I hope this was just a deviation for Elly Griffiths and she will return to the more mystical elements which I found so absorbing in her first two books. I'm starting book four now, A Room Full of Bones so I'll post an update when I've finished. I hate writing reviews like this and I did love the book but in this case, this one was not quite as absorbing as the previous two...sorry Elly!
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on 8 November 2011
In "The House at Sea's End," by Elly Griffiths, forty-year-old forensic archeologist Ruth Galloway is now a single mum. Although she adores her daughter, Kate, Ruth is tired ("sleepless nights, zombie-like days"), nervous, and feeling guilty about leaving her baby with child minders while she is at work. Along with her teaching duties at the University of North Norfolk, she occasionally helps the police with their inquiries. When someone uncovers human skeletons in a ravine, Ruth is called in to examine the remains.

Griffiths has a natural, effortless, understated, and gently humorous writing style. As always, Galloway is an endearing "Everywoman"--overweight, somewhat disorganized, and self-deprecating. Ruth cares for Kate's father, but he is off-limits, so she has decided to raise their daughter on her own. Since Ruth and Kate's dad are thrown together on a regular basis, it is likely that the truth about the baby's parentage will emerge sooner or later. This could prove awkward for all concerned.

The mystery centers on an incident that occurred during World War II, at a time when members of the "Broughton Sea's End Home Guard" were determined to protect England's mainland from Nazi invaders. Some of these elderly veterans are still alive, but an unidentified perpetrator starts killing them off; Ruth and DCI Harry Nelson wonder if someone is silencing them to keep a long-hidden secret from coming to light. On a less somber note, DS Judy Johnson is about to be married, but has she chosen the right mate? Love is in the air, but in some cases, Cupid's arrow may land a bit wide of the mark.

Griffiths juggles her lively and varied cast of characters with ease. On hand are Shona, Ruth's sassy buddy; Cathbad, a druid with a good heart and a canny mind; and Tatjana, an old friend who has come to visit Ruth. In 1996, Ruth and Tatjana had worked together in Bosnia, uncovering and identifying the remains of massacred victims of that region's tragic civil war. One of the author's themes is that, in wartime, formerly law-abiding people can turn into brutal and aggressive predators.

The author treats us to evocative descriptions of the wild and desolate coast where Ruth lives. Griffiths helps us visualize the sandstone cliffs, coves, and marshes; hear the shrill cries of the birds wheeling overhead, "their wings turned to pink by the setting sun"; and feel the pounding of the surf as it hammers against the rocks. Although the whodunit's solution is a bit rushed and somewhat contrived, this flaw does not markedly detract from the novel's appeal. Ruth Galloway fans will be pleased to see their heroine back from maternity leave, as smart, independent, courageous, and impulsive as ever.
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on 4 April 2016
Well, while I love the Galloway books they always follow the same pattern: Ruth (and the story) is pottering along, you can almost watch seeing her daughter growing up and her going on and off relationships - not being able to succumb to any man's charme for long, being afraid to lose her independency (and I can very well understand that aspect!). Then, at about 75% through the book things are getting a bit more exciting and the rather light novel turns into crime fiction which then always ends with somebody being kidnapped or trapped and freed in the last second by a strange accumulation of coincidences. Most recently this revolves around the small police investigators team.

Anyway, the books are very nicely written (even if I can't get used to the present tense used throughout the book) and being able to guess the end (rescue of the trapped/kidnapped/threatened person and Ruth's relationship falling apart) results in some familiarity with the characters which you by now happen to know quite well.
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on 14 September 2013
I really thought that by the third book Ruth Galloway would get more interesting and would make me wait with excitement for the next story. All the contrary.

This book reads more like a manual on how to be a working mother. The mistery is very minimal. The characters are not strong enough. They lack substance. Not like the ones from Gillian Flynn or Jo Nesbo.

I never thought I would hate the name Kate (Ruth's daughter) so much. It is all about Kate this and Kate that. Who can look after her, is the babysitter free, does she love me, really, really boring.
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on 8 April 2016
The third in this series and another top read. The House at Sea's End brings us the mystery of six skeletons that are found by a team of Archaeologists in the cliff's on the Norfolk coast. Nelson and Ruth are amazed to discover that the bones are from Germany and could very well belong to German soldiers from WW2 - but how and why did they get there and who is trying to put them off the trail? I hope the author keeps up this standerd of writing.
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on 26 August 2014
Another great book in the Ruth Galloway series. This one sees Ruth juggle the demands of her job at the university as an archaeologist and seconded to the serious crimes unit with that of being a single mother. Griffiths explores this wonderfully as Ruth pitches between her desires to be a part of an exciting discovery and then investigation and her guilt at her perceived failures as a mother. This is an area that many working mothers will be able to identify with deeply.

The setting along the harsh cold coastline is as always an enormous character of its own. It feels forbidding and dangerous without the considerations of a murderer at large. And the investigated murder crosses time periods with history and family secrets playing out in a wonderful story that has you entrenched firmly in there, wondering at a time gone by, and how things may have played out.

The ending will leave you gasping to read the next one as soon as you can. A perfect way to end a book in a series!
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