Book Reviews

Book Review – The Night Hawks by Elly Griffiths

Review by
Linda M. Castellitto

History, mystery and legend collide in The Night Hawks, the atmospheric and intense 13th entry in British author Elly Griffiths’ bestselling series starring forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway.

Ruth has recently returned to the Norfolk fens, leaving behind a job at Cambridge University as well as her ex-boyfriend Frank Barker. She’s now head of archaeology at the University of North Norfolk, complete with a lovely large office and employee David Brown, who seems to love dismissing her authority almost as much as he loves going on digs. Another constant presence at the digs are the Night Hawks, a group of licensed metal detectorists who are excited at the prospect of buried treasure at nearby Blakeney Point beach. Alas, while the eventual discovery they make there is notable, it’s not in the way they’d hoped. Certainly, a hoard of Bronze Age artifacts is an excellent find, especially with a very old skeleton in their midst—but nearby, they also find the much more recent corpse of a man with a tattoo that resembles the mythical Norfolk Sea Serpent.

As special advisor to the local police, Ruth is called to the scene by Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, who is the father of her 10-year-old daughter, Kate. She and the police have just begun to unravel the bodies’ and artifacts’ origins when there is another gruesome discovery: the presumed murder-suicide of a married couple at a remote farmhouse that locals believe is haunted by the Black Shuck, a harbinger of death in the form of a huge black dog with frightening red eyes. Even stranger, the Night Hawks discovered this tragedy as well, and the investigators begin to wonder if the group, rather than simply stumbling across crimes, is somehow involved in them.

Like the seaweed that lays in messy heaps on the rocky Norfolk beach, the interplay among Griffiths’ appealingly varied characters becomes ever more tangled as the story progresses, making for an intriguing mix of secrets, loyalties and ulterior motives. The Night Hawks will delight longtime fans and new readers alike with its spooky-beautiful setting, layered mysteries and authentically complex relationships.

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