Elly Griffiths

  • Author of the bestselling Ruth Galloway series

    Elly Griffiths

    Elly Griffiths was born in London. The inpsiration for her books about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway came from her husband who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist. Elly lives near Brighton but often spends holidays on the wild Norfolk coast. She has two children and a cat.
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    Q&A with Elly and Keith Walters

    Elly Griffiths tells us about her fourth novel in the Ruth Galloway Investigation series, a possible BBC adaptation, and why she hates Time Team In A Room Full of Bones, new mother and forensic archeologist Ruth finds a museum curator dead ahead of the opening of a new medieval bones exhibition. How have the character dynamics changed now that Ruth Galloway’s one-year-old daughter Kate is around? It feels like a real privilege to have the time and space to develop the characters. It does get easier but I have to say that Kate was a challenge. I wanted her to be a distinct presence in Ruth’s life – every parent knows that a baby disrupts your life completely – but I didn’t want the books to become diatribes about the hardships of being a single parent. Are museums somewhere you spend a lot of time? I used to live in South London and visited the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill a few times. I have to say, though, that the museum that influenced me most is the Booth Museum in Hove. It’s very near my old school and I remember many happy stolen hours staring at the Great Auk... Was it always your intention to make Ruth dissimilar to traditional female detectives, with her clumsiness and weight issues? I just wanted to make her real. It wasn’t until after the book was published that I realised how many crime heroines were, in essence, superwomen – looking beautiful, cooking gourmet meals, running twenty miles before breakfast. Ruth could certainly eat a gourmet meal but she would struggle with the rest. Are the Rebus and Springsteen references in the books favourites of yours, as they appear to be the books and CDs of choice to Ruth Galloway? Do you have a favourite Boss album? Yes, I’m a big fan of both Ian Rankin and Bruce Springsteen. My favourite Springsteen album is Born to Run and my favourite track is Thunder Road. Are there any crime writers who have been a particular help or influence when you started out? I hadn’t read a lot of crime novels when I wrote The Crossing Places. My biggest influences were probably Victorian writers like Wilkie Collins. Since then I have met quite a few stars of the crime world and they have all been incredibly friendly and supportive. Val McDermid, in particular, has been delightful. Crime writers seem particularly charming. Maybe they exorcise all their demons in their books. I don’t know any Brighton-based writers, though I did meet Peter James when we were both shortlisted for the same award. You featured a location map in the first book, The Crossing Places, are there any plans to get maps into any future books? I love drawing maps and managed to get one into The House at Sea’s End. I think every book should have a map at the front. How do you write? My system hasn’t really changed. I write a rough chapter-by-chapter outline and then go for it. I write for about three hours a day and the rest of the time it’s going round in my head. I hope my plots have got a bit better as I’ve gone on though. Is Ruth going to be brought to the TV screen? The BBC has expressed interest, but I don’t think I’m allowed to say more than that. I would love to see Ruth on TV. Not sure who would play her, though... The location of your books is fantastic and they all give a tremendous sense of place - but could you ever see yourself writing Ruth into Brighton, or writing a standalone novel in Brighton? Or is your hometown too crowded with fictional crime already? Peter James does have Brighton sewn up and I’m sure I couldn’t better him. I do have a vague idea about a historical crime novel set in Brighton, though. My granddad was a music hall comedian and I’d love to write about that world. Ruth has no plans to leave Norfolk, although in book five she does visit Blackpool. Why does Ruth not like Time Team? Well, I have a bit of a grudge against Time Team, as my husband had a well-paid city job before he started watching it and now he’s a poorly-paid archaeologist! I think it’s a great programme, but Ruth, being a professional, would be rather sniffy about it (whilst, at the same time, watching it avidly). What can we look forward to next from Ruth Galloway or from Elly Griffiths? I’ve almost finished book five, which will be about Roman remains found near Blackpool. It takes Ruth into Nelson’s territory and, of course, into danger. I’ve already got a pretty good idea for Book 6. After that, who knows? A Room Full of Bones is out tomorrow, published by Quercus.

    The Ghost Fields

    By Elly Griffiths

    When a bullet-ridden body is unearthed from a buried WWII plane, Dr Ruth Galloway must find out who the victim was - and who put him there.

    Norfolk is experiencing a July heatwave when a construction crew unearths a macabre discovery - a buried WWII 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 close to the Blackstocks' family home.

    As the biggest storm Norfolk has seen in decades brews in the distance, human bones are found on the family's pig farm. Can the team outrace a looming flood to find a killer?

    Elly Griffiths writes ever-more ingenious detective stories with a powerful sense of place and a varied cast of sympathetic and unusual characters. Her heroine is a winnerGriffiths weaves superstition and myth into her crime novels, skilfully treading a line between credulity and modern methods of detectionElly Griffiths' next gripping instalment of the bestselling Ruth Galloway seriesFor fans of Silent Witness and readers of Kathy ReichsElly Griffiths has been twice shortlisted for the CWA Dagger in the Library AwardThe Outcast Dead was a Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller

    A Room Full of Bones Review

    A Room Full of Bones marks the fourth appearance of Elly Griffiths’s heroine Dr Ruth Galloway, forensic archeologist and resident of Norfolk. A museum curator is found dead just before a ceremony to open a recently discovered coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. The museum’s owner, a wealthy racehorse trainer, has received a threatening demand to return a collection of bones to the Aboriginal people from whom they were stolen; he doesn’t, and dies.

    The Zig Zag Girl

    By Elly Griffiths
    Enormously engaging . . . Post-war Brighton and its Theatre Royal are beautifully captured in all their seedy glory . . . subtle, charming and very goodA colourful crowd of ventriloquists and sword-swallowers, a world lovingly re-created in this original, lively and gripping workThe historical detail is very well done . . . The Zig Zag Girl is an extremely well-written and well-researched novel
    by Crimesquad.com

    The Zig Zag Girl Review

    I was so entranced by this book that whilst reading it on the bus I actually missed my stop!" Synopsis: Brighton, 1950. When the body of a girl is found, cut into three, Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens finds himself thinking of a magic trick he saw as a boy: the Zig-Zag Girl. The inventor of the trick, Max Mephisto, is an old friend of Edgar's. They served together in the war as part of a shadowy unit called the Magic Gang. Max is still on the circuit, touring seaside towns in the company of ventriloquists, sword swallowers and dancing girls. Changing times mean that variety is not what it once was, but Max is reluctant to leave his world to help Edgar investigate. But when the dead girl turns out to be known to him, Max changes his mind. Another death, another magic trick: Edgar and Max become convinced that the answer to the murders lies in their army days. When Edgar receives a letter warning of another 'trick', the Wolf Trap, he knows that they are all in danger... Review: If an author is going to write something different to their original series, then 'different' needs to be the operative word to avoid comparisons. Elly Griffiths, creator of the excellent Ruth Galloway series, has written a breath-taking new novel set in the 1950s featuring a brilliantly flawed detective and a sinister setting in the world of theatre and illusion. 'The Zig-Zag Girl' is inspired by real-life events from the author's own family history. Descriptions of magic, post-war Britain and life in the theatre are entertaining and give a great sense of place. The pace is fast and gripping. I love the world of magic and was hooked from the opening page. The murders are deliciously dark, and the underlying sense of evil is the perfect atmosphere as the cold winter nights draw in. I was so entranced by this book that whilst reading it on the bus I actually missed my stop! An excellent novel is a good enough excuse to be late in my opinion. Detective Inspector Stephens is sensitive, intelligent, and personable. Elly Griffiths has created yet another terrific character that can carry a gripping story without stealing the limelight and allowing the story, and subordinate characters, to develop naturally. It's this talent that shows Elly to be a leading voice in British crime writing. I hope we see DI Stephens again. I'm sure Ms Griffiths is capable of juggling Galloway and Stephens. No pressure.


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    A Room Full of Bones

    By Elly Griffiths

    It is Halloween night in King's Lynn, and Dr Ruth Galloway is attending a strange event at the local history museum - the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But what Ruth finds is the body of the museum's curator lying beside the coffin.

    Soon the museum's wealthy owner lies dead in his stables too. These two deaths could be from natural causes but when he is called in to investigate, DCI Harry Nelson isn't convinced, and it is only a matter of time before Ruth and Nelson cross paths once more.

    When threatening letters come to light, events take an even more sinister turn. But as Ruth's friends become involved, where will her loyalties lie? As her convictions are tested, she and Nelson must discover how Aboriginal skulls, drug smuggling and the mystery of The Dreaming may hold the answer to these deaths, and their own survival.

    'Griffiths' excellent series is well-informed and original, and its setting in one of the bleaker corners of East Anglia is vividly evoked' Literary Review.'I became utterly absorbed as the story unfolded ... Another wonderful entry in this justifiable highly acclaimed series' Promoting Crime Fiction.'The characters are constantly engaging - particularly the vulnerable Ruth - the writing is perceptive, as well as wryly humorous ... this is recommended' Spectator.'excellent' Wendy Cope.'A fast-paced, insightful and murky story of ordinary lives, buried secrets, and desperate crimes' Good Book Guide.'Like its predecessors, this is a wonderfully rich mixture of ancient and contemporary, superstition and rationality, with a cast of druids, dreamers and assorted tree-huggers as well as some thoroughly modern villains: a welcome addition to a great series' Guardian.'The book's strengths are, as ever, Griffiths' ability to conjure up thoroughly believable people and to ensure that the myths and legends which steep the story never spill over into woo-woo' Reviewing the Evidence.the perfect instalment to a gripping series that is seriously becoming 'a must-read'' Crimesquad.an engrossing read' WI Life magazine.''a sinister, life-threatening mystery that grips to its end' Woman & Home.''another wonderful entry in this justifiable highly acclaimed series' Euro Crime.Forensic archaeologist, Dr Ruth Galloway finds a still-warm corpse lying beside some very ancient bones in this beguiling mystery.

    The Crossing Places

    By Elly Griffiths

    Dr Ruth Galloway is called in when a child's bones are discovered near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk salt marshes. Are they the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years earlier - or are the bones much older?

    DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for the missing girl. Since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible. He knows that Ruth's expertise and experience could help him finally to put this case to rest.

    But when a second child goes missing, Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she's getting ever closer to the truth...

    A great seriesGriffiths' excellent series is well informed and originalGriffiths weaves superstition and myth into her crime novels, skilfully treading a line between credulity and modern methods of detectionArchaeology and crime often walk hand in hand in crime fiction, and seem a natural fit as they have in common both bones and quests for the truth. I've never before, however, read a crime novel in which the two blend as successfully as in The Crossing Places ... Elly Griffiths' characterization is as good as her writing, and I can't wait for the next in the seriesThe Norfolk marshes hold a dangerous secret for forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth GallowayElly Griffiths was born in London. She worked in publishing for many years. Her bestselling series of Ruth Galloway novels, featuring a forensic archaeologist, are set in Norfolk, and have three times been shortlisted for the Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and twice for the CWA Dagger in the Library. Her new series is based in 1950s Brighton. She lives near Brighton with her husband, an archaeologist, and their two children.

    The House at Sea's End

    By Elly Griffiths

    Dr Ruth Galloway is called in by a team of archaeologists investigating coastal erosion on the north Norfolk coast, when they unearth six bodies buried at the foot of a cliff. They seem to have been there a very long time. Ruth must help discover how long, and how on earth they got there.

    Ruth and DCI Nelson are drawn together once more to unravel the past. Tests reveal that the bodies have lain, preserved in the sand, for sixty years. The mystery of their deaths stretches back to the Second World War, a time when Great Britain was threatened by invasion.

    But someone wants the truth to stay buried, and will go to any lengths to keep it that way... even to committing murder.

    'Gripping drama' North Norfolk Living.'The perfect ratio of anticipation, shock and surprise' Independent.'Griffiths is brilliant on the eerie landscape of the Norfolk coast' Sunday Times.'A palpable sense of evil ... perfect for dark winter evenings' Financial Times.'After just two books in this gripping series the central characters have the allure of old friends and it's great to find that the third title is just as enthralling as its predecessors' Guardian.Forensic archaeologist, Dr Ruth Galloway's most challenging case yet unravels a mystery rooted in World War 2.

    A Dying Fall

    By Elly Griffiths

    Dr Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist, spends a lot of time looking at death. But now death has found her, with the news that her long-time friend Dan Golding has been killed in a house fire.

    Ruth's grief soon turns to suspicion of arson when she receives a desperate letter from Dan, sent the day before he died. He had made a ground-breaking discovery - and was petrified of the consequences.

    Ruth is compelled to travel north to investigate further, alongside DCI Harry Nelson who is also drawn into the case. But where Ruth goes, so does her young daughter, Kate. This time, the risks are even higher.

    Forensic archaeologist, Dr Ruth Galloway's latest case will push her to the edge as she investigates crimes of the past and secrets in the present.