Elly Griffiths has knocked another one out of the park, and I can’t wait to dig into the other books in this series and some others I haven’t had a chance to read yet!

About the Book

Words turn deadly with an unlikely detective duo on the case of a murdered obituary writer in this literary mystery from the internationally bestselling author of the Ruth Galloway series. Perfect for fans of Richard Osman and Anthony Horowitz.

Natalka and Edwin are perfect if improbable partners in a detective agency. At eighty-four, Edwin regularly claims that he’s the oldest detective in England. He is a master at surveillance, deploying his age as a cloak of invisibility. Natalka, Ukrainian-born and more than fifty years his junior, is a math whizz, who takes any cases concerning fraud or deception. Despite a steady stream of minor cases, Natalka is frustrated. She loves a murder, as she’s fond of saying, and none have come the agency’s way. That is until local writer Melody Chambers dies.

Melody’s daughters are convinced that their mother was murdered. Edwin thinks that Melody’s death is linked to that of an obituary writer who predeceased many of his subjects. Edwin and Benedict go undercover to investigate and are on a creative writing weekend at isolated Battle House when another murder occurs. Are the cases linked and what is the role of a distinctly sinister book group attended by many of writers involved? By the time Edwin has infiltrated the group, he is in serious danger…

Seeking professional help, the investigators turn to their friend, detective Harbinder Kaur, and find they have stumbled on a plot that is stranger than fiction.

My Thoughts

This is clearly part of a series, and as a personal preference, I hate coming in late on a series so I will absolutely have to go back and read the others. That is especially true because I adore everything Elly Griffiths touches. I was captivated by her Ruth Galloway novels, and this is equally outstanding, but unique in its own right.

The characters are distinct and loveable in their own ways. Just when I thought I had a favorite between Benny and Edwin the other would outshine his friend. Though I think the elder Edwin wins by just an adorable hair. There are so many strong, independent women to choose from it’s hard to even fathom picking a favorite. Though, I do really enjoy the cop Harbinder. There have been a lot more lady cops in writing lately and I’m here for it. The LGBTQA rep here is awesome too! Especially the older rep, making it clear that this isn’t some newfangled thing – we’ve been here.

The setting is not as atmospheric as the Galloway books, but it has its special charm. The cloying, claustrophobic apartment that Benny is trapped in with Natalka and her mother is palpable. And I could feel myself sitting in the courtyard with the gang in the cafe on multiple occasions. Griffiths is a star at pulling you into the worlds she envisions right alongside her characters.

Obviously in this type of storyline, there will be a great deal of uncomfortable subjects including war, death, suicide, pregnancy, and many more touched upon. But overall it is a rather cozy read and if you enjoy a good mystery to curl up with you will love it!

Who’s It For?

If you love cozy mysteries, this will be up your ally. It has it’s dark moments, but it’s a cozy. With three arm-chair detectives – even though two of them run their own detective agency – the zany antics are strong. It’s a very different vibe than Griffiths other works, but it’s still fantastic. I also get a big Only Murders in the Building vibe from it, so if you enjoyed that you’ll get this one!

Content Warnings: Murder, Violence, Death, Adult Situations, Adult Language, Crime, Alcohol Abuse, Mention of SI, Mention of SA, Homophobia, Bigotry, Elder Abuse

About the Author

Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton. Though not her first novel, The Crossing Places was her first crime novel.

Her real name is Domenica de Rosa, and she has written four books under that name. Seh was born in London in 1963 and her family moved to Brighton when she was five. She loved Brighton and still does – the town, the surrounding countryside and, most of all, the sea. She went to local state schools and wrote her first book when she was 11, a murder mystery set in Rottingdean, near the village where she still lives.

She did all the right things to become a writer: read English at King’s College London and, after graduating, worked in a library, for a magazine and then as a publicity assistant at HarperCollins. She loved working in publishing and eventually became Editorial Director for children’s books at HarperCollins. All this completely put her off writing and it wasn’t until she was on maternity leave in 1998 that she wrote what would become her first published novel, The Italian Quarter.

Three other books followed, all about Italy, families and identity. By now she had two children and her husband Andy had just given up his city job to become an archaeologist. They were on holiday in Norfolk, walking across Titchwell Marsh, when Andy mentioned that prehistoric man had thought that marshland was sacred. Because it’s neither land nor sea, but something in-between, they saw it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife. Neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. As he said these words the entire plot of The Crossing Places appeared, full formed, in her head and, walking towards me out of the mist, she saw Dr Ruth Galloway. Elly didn’t think that this new book was significantly different from her ‘Italy’ books but, when she read it, Elly’s agent said, ‘This is crime. You need a crime name.’

And that’s how she became Elly Griffiths.

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