A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths (Review #16)

A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths 


Set in Norfolk, England, A Room Full of Bonesembroils, once again, our brainy heroine in a crime tinged by occult forces. On Halloween night, the Smith Museum in King’s Lynn is preparing for an unusual event — the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead beside the coffin. Topham’s death seems to be related to other uncanny incidents, including the arcane and suspect methods of a group called the Elginists, which aims to repatriate the museum’s extensive collection of Aborigine skulls; the untimely demise of the museum’s owner, Lord Smith; and the sudden illness of DCI Harry Nelson, who Ruth’s friend Cathbad believes is lost in The Dreaming — a hallucinogenic state central to some Indigenous Australian beliefs. Tensions build as Nelson’s life hangs in the balance. Something must be done to set matters right and lift Nelson out of the clutches of death, but will Ruth be able to muster herself out of a state of guilt and foreboding in order to do what she does best?


I will be honest this was the first Dr Ruth Galloway book that didn’t have me completely gripped. I still loved the book but I didn’t find it as engaging as the other books I have read from the series. The storyline of this book was rather disturbing to me especially the room of bones and certain scenes at the riding stables.

I found the whole thing of Ruth being depressed about being overweight and struggling to be a mom and have a career rather repetitive from the previous book. And yes I know Ruth probably wouldn’t have changed her mind on these things from the last book but it almost felt copy and pasted sadly. 

I also found it interesting how Ruth could identify the sex of the skeleton so quickly. I know there are ways to tell the sex of an adult skeleton but she was straight out with an answer having only had a cursory glance at the skeleton because she was on the phone whilst the lid of the coffin was lifted. Having studied some archaeology during my Masters I know that identifying the sex of a skeleton is nowhere near as easy. I also wonder how Ruth gets any work done at the university as she always seems to be dashing off to one thing or another. 

To be honest I guessed what was happening with the random people dropping down dead or being really ill and I found how Griffiths was dragging it out with the Australian mysticism rather dull. 

The thing that saved this book for me was of course Cathbad. Cathbad is the best character in this series and as long as he is in the books I will be a fan. I love how he is there to support Ruth and Kate. He is always there for people no matter what and doesn’t care a fig what people think of him. Due to Cathbad I give this book 4 out of 5 Dragons. 


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About the author

Elly Griffiths was born in London and began her career in publishing, she then turned to writing full time. In 2016 she won the CWA Dagger in the Library for her work. Griffiths lives in Brighton with her family.


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