Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Griffiths’s enticing 11th mystery to feature forensic anthropologist Ruth Galloway and her married lover, Det. Chief Insp. Harry Nelson of the King’s Lynn CID (after 2018’s The Dark Angel), harkens back to their first case together, when they investigated missing girls near the Norfolk marshes and conceived their now seven-year-old daughter, Kate. Anonymous threatening letters sent to Nelson appear to be from the person who led the pair into that first case, Ruth’s mentor and later antagonist. The discovery of the bones of 12-year-old Margaret Lacey, who disappeared in 1981, in an archeological dig, raises the stakes. Series fans should enjoy echoes of Griffiths’s debut, 2009’s The Crossing Places, and the roles played by Det. Sgt. Judy Johnson and her police partner, Maddie, in seeking Margaret’s killer. Meanwhile, Nelson’s pregnant wife prepares to deliver a child who may or may not be his. The continuing lack of resolution in Ruth and Nelson’s relationship may wear on even the most patient readers. Still, fans of forensic mysteries will find plenty to like. Agent: Kirby Kim, Janklow & Nesbit. (May)
An anonymous letter brings DCI Harry Nelson memories of past sorrows and present dangers.
The letter mentions a stone circle that harks back to the 20-year-old case of a missing child. Ten years later, another missing child introduced Harry to archaeologist Ruth Galloway when he asked her to examine some bones. That case began a working relationship that turned out to be equally productive in personal terms: A short-lived affair between the two produced a child, Kate, though Harry is married and has two grown daughters. His wife, Michelle, who accepts Kate in their lives, is about to give birth to a baby who may or may not be Harry's. A new archaeological team working near the site of the original henge finds a stone coffin containing bones. The head of the dig is Leif Anderssen, whose father, Erik, was Ruth's mentor all those years ago. As Harry continues to receive cryptic messages, the bones of what Ruth thinks is a young girl are found near the new dig, opening up yet another old case. The police think the body is that of Margaret Lacey, who vanished from a street party in 1981. The focus at the time was on her parents; her older siblings, Annie and Luke; and John Mostyn, a neighbor and odd duck who collected stones. But nothing was ever proven, and Margaret's body was never found. The birth of George, Michelle's son, puts more pressure on Harry, who loves his wife and Ruth in different ways, to stay in his marriage. Nelson's team and some friends of Ruth's use their own areas of expertise to search for clues from the past, but when the child of Annie's daughter, Star, is kidnapped, the present-day crisis takes center stage.
This superb series (The Dark Angel, 2018, etc.) never disappoints. Its patented combination of mysterious circumstances, police procedure, and agonizing relationship problems will keep you reading, and feeling, all night.