The Chalk Pit by Elly Griffiths is ninth in the Ruth Galloway mystery series, I had no idea what to think when I went into this book. I had not read any of the previous novels and, truthfully, had never even heard of this series! I was a little bit worried it would be the same old police procedural style novel and I was ready to throw it into my DNF pile when this story completely sucked me.
Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist, is called to investigate a set of human remains found in an old chalk mining tunnels that run underneath the city of Norwich. Meanwhile, DCI Nelson and his team are hunting for a missing woman. Could the two cases be connected? As Ruth investigates, she begins to discover signs of cannibalism on the remains and when rumours of secret societies and ritual killings begin swimming, they realize that their quest to find the killer has just begun….and he is just getting started.
I found myself, initially, very distracted by the narrative technique Griffiths’ chose to use in The Chalk Pit. The plot is told in third person present tense. I don’t know if it was because I am so used to reading first person narratives or third person past tense narratives, but I was hyper-aware of all the wording within the first fifty pages; it was making me crazy! However, once I settled into the plot and the characters, I found it didn’t bother me as much. One of those quirky things, I guess!
The detectives working their case of multiple missing women happens in parallel with Ruth’s story as she is called in and out to consult and handle her own personal business. I didn’t find myself confused by any of the references to the first eight books in this series. Griffiths does a fine job at using memories to fill the gaps and other character perspectives to explain the backstory. In fact, Ruth’s personal life became one of my favourite parts of the book. Similar to how Tess Gerritsen creates colourful backstories for the protagonists of her Rizzoli and Isles series, Griffiths has a pretty interesting and scandalous personal live for Ruth Galloway. I am all about a little bit of scandal and juicy gossip mixed into my reading!
This one is considerably slower (especially if you are not one to indulge in a backstory of the characters and prefer to stick with the case) but once the plot gets moving, I’d say about half way through, I was intrigued enough to continue going. I did like that the author included an epilogue as the last chapter, which tied up any loose ends and it made so that the next book in the series could be a fresh start. I cannot say much more without giving away some spoilers, but I must say, I was pretty disappointed with the direction the plot chose to go.
Overall, I’d say if you enjoy a slow burning, police procedural style novel with a female protagonist, you might want to add this to your TBR pile. However, if you are looking for a fast paced, on the edge of your seat style of mystery, this would miss the mark. I gave it a 3/5 stars!