Ruth in The Night Hawks

Today it struck self (for the first time) that the name of the main protagonist in this series is Biblical. Even her cat’s name, Flint, seems significant.

In The Night Hawks, Ruth and Nelson seem to have finally arrived at a kind of prickly accommodation: they are co-parents to their daughter, Kate, but Ruth knows she will live the rest of her life alone.

One of the best parts of this series are the descriptions of the salt marsh around Ruth’s cottage. It lies at the edge of sea and land, where her only neighbors are an Australian aboriginal poet who travels the world giving readings and lectures, and a family from London who use their house only as an occasional weekend get-away. Here she is, taking one of her solitary walks:

She remembers Cathbad telling her once that, in extreme stress, we often imagine that we are accompanied by another person, a companion or a protector. This might explain stories from the First World War of soldiers sensing an unknown presence, often described as an angel, marching beside them through the mud and the horror. But today there’s only Ruth. She moves quickly, stepping firmly over the shifting ground.

The Night Hawks, pp. 142 – 143

This is becoming her favorite book of the Ruth Galloway books she’s read thus far. You don’t even need to read the earlier books to come to a full appreciation of what Ruth has achieved here: as a woman, a teacher, and mother. These are not, actually, standard mysteries. They are more about a woman and the personal choices she makes, over and over again.

Stay tuned.

DCI Harry Nelson

Nelson’s stomach rumbles. Michelle is on one of her health kicks again and makes him a salad to take to work every morning. Nelson keeps finding them weeks later, in his desk drawers, covered in slime and mould. He usually has a Tesco’s Meal Deal: sandwich, crisps, fizzy drink. A properly balanced lunch.

The Night Hawks, p. 123

Oh, Nelson.

This installment of the Dr. Ruth Galloway series is good.

Stay tuned.

Her Favorite Ruth Galloway Character

Strangely enough, it isn’t Dr. Ruth Galloway. Her favorite character (and she realizes now that he was always her favorite) is DCI Harry Nelson.

Elly Griffiths’ writing is so much better when Ruth and Harry Nelson are apart.

Here is Nelson at home. He has sacrificed so much to be able to keep his house a home:

Michelle goes to bed at ten and Nelson isn’t long after her. They make love in an abstracted, but not untender, fashion and Nelson falls asleep dreaming of buried treasure. He’s awoken by his work phone. It’s ten minutes past midnight.

“Boss.” It’s Judy. “I’m at Black Dog Farm near Sheringham. Gunshots and screams heard inside the house. I think you’d better come.”

The Night Hawks, p. 40

Quote of the Day: From Which Dear Blog Readers Can Infer

He looks up and has to stifle an exclamation. Super Jo has materialised in front of him. How does she do that? Ruth’s cat is the same. You’re sitting there quietly on her sofa and suddenly that orange beast is in front of you, radiating waves of hatred.

The Night Hawks, p. 29

Yes indeed, after a two-book detour into science fiction, self has returned to the Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery series. The Night Hawks is Book # 13, and after this there are only two more: author Elly Griffiths has announced that Book # 15, The Last Remains, will be the final book of the series.

Self looked up Book # 14, The Locked Room, in her local library, but there are 44 holds on just four copies so she probably won’t get around to it.

She started reading the series in April, while she was in Northern Ireland, and blew through ten books while traveling from Downpatrick to Belfast to London to Oxford. After self calmed down and accepted the fact that Ruth and Harry Nelson did not in fact belong together, she began to enjoy the books more. The series have followed the fates of these two from the time Ruth was 39 to the time she is — in her mid-50s? While her life may seem sad — she doesn’t get her man! — she has a lot of professional achievements — she is now head of her department! — and has a delightful, precious daughter who must be about to enter secondary school!

Stay tuned.

Fan of . . . Space Opera, Fantasy, and Dr. Ruth Galloway Mysteries

For this challenge — The Fan of . . . Challenge hosted by Jez Braithwaite — self didn’t want to just say Books. Sure, she spends most of her time reading, but she wanted to specify that she gravitates towards certain types of books, depending on her mood.

This year, she’s definitely into space opera (Shards of Earth), fantasy (The Mermaid and the Bear), and Elly Griffiths’ Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery series.

Note to Self

Still reading The Lantern Men. The Dr. Ruth Galloway books are such a guilty pleasure.

Self is on p. 277.

She was in the city for most of the day, couldn’t wait to get home to resume reading!

Note to self: Never, ever stay at a writers retreat with a name like Grey Walls.

Another note to self: Never get friendly with the girlfriend of a serial killer. Never return her calls, never introduce your eleven-year-old to her gardener.

Just when her frustrations with the main character reach near boiling point, Elly Griffiths slips in a joke: Ruth is seeing a doctor because she’s been getting panic attacks. “The loo in the patient area had a sign on it saying PATIENT TOILET. Well, the WC must be the only thing around here that isn’t feeling frustrated.”


Stay tuned.

Detective Sergeant Tanya Fuller

Self had her first It’s It in decades.

She went to the library and checked out a new book: Katherine Addison’s The Witness for the Dead (Surprisingly thin! The Goblin Emperor, which is the only other Katherine Addison book self has read, was a hefty tome)

She bought a few sundries from Bianchini’s in San Carlos and the bill came to $39 (She bought 13-gallon garbage bags, 10 0z. of Peet’s Dark Roast, a small container of cubed watermelon)

She is on p. 244 of Book # 12 of Elly Griffiths’ powerfully addictive Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery series (She keeps complaining about the plots, but is unable to stop reading). Detective Sergeant Tanya Fuller interviews a witness:

She shows Crissy a photograph of the pumpkin badge.

“Do you recognize this?”

“It’s a Hallowe’en thing, isn’t it? I don’t like Hallowe’en as a holiday. Why dwell on the darkness in life?”

Don’t ask me, thinks Tanya. You’re the one who was married to a serial killer.

The Lantern Men, Book 12 of the Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery series

Stay tuned.

Further Into The Lantern Men

Today, self returned The Last Graduate to the library, having read to p. 80. It was so . . . talk-y? And she’s not that into Dark Academy fiction — there is a reason she never got into Harry Potter.

She is plowing on with The Lantern Men. The Cathbad/Judy sections are quite enjoyable. As are the Ruth-takes-Kate-swimming-and-gets-palpitations section. There was one sweet Ruth/Nelson scene (No touching, no what-ifs, just a pleasant conversation in a country pub. Oh well done, you two!)

Ruth stays late in her office in Cambridge University and hears strange sounds. These turn out to be the janitor (Pheeew!). Then she takes her 11-year-old to see the girlfriend of a serial killer because she’s imposed too much on her boyfriend already, she can’t ask him for one more babysitting favor. This creepy girlfriend has been writing threatening notes to Phil Trent (Ruth’s former boss), Phil Trent has just been attacked by an unknown assailant with a knife, and Ruth takes her daughter to see her. WHY, RUTH, WHY?

While Ruth converses with the girlfriend of the serial killer, she leaves her 11-year-old unattended outside. It’s quite safe, right? Right? What could happen? When Ruth looks for her daughter afterwards, her daughter is conversing WITH A STRANGE MAN. He says he’s the gardener but there is something really shady about him.

This is one of those moments when self thinks maybe she should have stuck with The Last Graduate a little longer. But here we are. (She’s well on her way to meeting her 2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge of 37 books — 12 of those books are the Dr. Ruth Galloway series. Who knew?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

New Police Recruit: Tony Zhang

Self is still hanging with the cheese, sorry. She thought by now she would have come to her senses.


It’s ride or die with Ruth/Nelson. They’ll be in their seventies, she’ll still be reading this series. She has absolutely nothing to say in her defense. Other than, it’s summer. And it’s been a hard couple of years.

“Didn’t the gardener chap — John — say that Leonard was gay? I read it in the notes.”

Judy is pleased that Tony has read the case notes. She wonders whether Tony himself is gay, not that she’d ever ask. She certainly doesn’t want to assume he is just because he knows the right things to say about art. She realizes that she doesn’t know much about the new recruit. He’s a graduate, fast-tracked to CID. He lives in Lynn and drives an old VW Beetle that Judy rather admires. Beyond that, he’s a blank.

The Lantern Men, p. 137


There is one Ruth Galloway character who never disappoints, who never acts out-of-character for the sake of a cheesy story line, and it’s the Druid, Cathbad (Real Name: Michael Malone). In the very first Ruth Galloway mystery, The Crossing Places, he was a suspect in a child’s disappearance. Nelson kept uncovering layers of his past, it turned out he had some connection to the family of the disappeared girl. He was eventually cleared of all charges, and he and Nelson developed an unusual relationship. Nelson saved his life, and he saved Nelson’s. Now, Nelson feels a grudging respect — even, affection — for him.

With each succeeding book, Cathbad just keeps getting more and more interesting. When he shaved off his beard, he looked younger — even, good-looking. He wears his hair in a graying ponytail but is unexpectedly strong. He stole the heart of DI Judy Johnson, and they have two children together.

In The Lantern Men, he manages to scare off a man with a knife who has attacked Phil Trent, the head of the archaeology department at the university where Ruth teaches.

“Phil will survive,” says Cathbad, “but this will have repercussions. We are all threads in the tapestry of life.”

Ruth can almost hear Nelson’s voice saying ‘bollocks’, Judy seems unmoved. She probably gets enough of this sort of thing at home.

“Where did it happen?” she asks.

“Near Tuesday Market Place in Lynn,” says Cathbad. “Did you know that a witch’s heart is buried in the wall there? She was burned at the stake and her heart flew out and into the side of a house.”

The Lantern Men, p. 106

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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