And once again, I sped through the rest, so here are the last of my mini-reviews. In general, I have LOVED this series so much!!
The Chalk Pit (audio)
A homeless woman goes missing, and when the police begin to investigate, a few homeless men end up murdered. Meanwhile, a hole has opened up in a road when an old mining tunnel under it caves in, and Ruth Galloway is called in to investigate some bones found inside. What follows is a story of cannibalism, secret societies, and the realities of sleeping rough.
Once again, the series has moved beyond traditional mystery and into a more political bent. There’s a lot of comparison between press coverage when a middle class woman disappears vs when a homeless woman disappears, that sort of thing. The climax was particularly intense because the focus was on disappearance more than murder, and the possibility of saving several people. I enjoyed the book, but need to take a moment to mention the audio performance. The book was read by Jane McDowell, who read the first few books of the series. While she reads fine, I didn’t like the way the production added extra flare – phone calls that sound distant as if you’re hearing through the receiver, radio program audio that has static and tinniness, etc. I would have preferred to go back to the original, plain way of reading, personally.
On the positive side: This had the best opener of the series so far, hands down. It’s also the first book to take place outside of England, and the change in scenery was fun. Unfortunately, the negatives outweighed the positives. The change in scenery was fun, but it meant that the mystery mostly involved new-to-the-reader characters, and it was difficult to get invested. Ruth’s colleague was so ignorant about history and archeology that I had a difficult time suspending my disbelief about him. Plus the history of the town was all wrapped up in WWII politics, which I’ve said before is one of my least favorite things to read about. But honestly, I think I would have enjoyed the book well enough if not for the audio. Not only did it have the same weird “enhancements” of the last book, but McDowell read all the Italian characters with grating exaggerated accents. This, as I’ve said before, is one of my audio pet peeves. I honestly wish I’d returned the book to Audible, read this one in print, and used that credit to get the next book in the series! Lesson learned.
The Stone Circle (audio)
Mysterious letters, highly reminiscent of those DCI Nelson received in The Crossing Places, begin to show up, leading toward the discovery of a skeleton and the reopening of a cold case nearly 40 years old.
Ahhh! It’s the last of the series currently published, and while I wanted to make the experience stretch out – the next one won’t release until June – I sped right through it. This one was soooooo good! Lots of very intense moments and misdirections, excellent psychology, really creepy characters. I loved it, and I’m sad that it’s so long before I can read the next volume.
Also, I haven’t commented on it much in previous mini-reviews, but one of my favorite things about this series is that the characters, when put into extremely difficult situations, never get an easy way out. There is no deus ex machina, even when it could be really easy for the author to set that up. Real life is hard, and so the characters have to face those difficulties head on, making choices or falling back on the more timid “do nothing” path. The characters and their lives have interested me far more than the individual mysteries, and that’s why the series has been so amazing. I really can’t wait to read more.