“The House At Sea’s End” is the third mystery involving Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist, living on the salt marsh coast of Norfolk. It carries on with the same ensemble cast of characters that we met in “The Crossing Places” and “The Janus Stone”.
This time, Ruth, now a single mother courtesy of a threat-induced one night stand with the (married with two daughters) Detective Inspector Nelson, is called in to assess multiple bodies discovered after part of the coastline crumbles. The plot unfolds around a World War II mystery and modern murders that appear to be linked. The action is spiced up by the visit of an old friend of Ruth’s from when she was working on mass graves in Bosnia, thus triggering a series of flashbacks that draw us away from the rather static Norfolk setting and the slow moving plot.
Ruth, of course, finds herself at considerable personal risk before the denouement is reached and Nelson feels a strong need to come her rescue and to protect his unacknowledged third daughter, the baby Kate.
It seems to me that, in this book, the series tipped over from crime mysteries into an ongoing story of the lives of the main characters, with the mysteries being used to provide a frame to continue ot bring them together.
I felt much greater tension and suspense about what would happen with Ruth and Nelson than I did around who had killed whom in this latest series of murders.
I know that the series has already reached nine books and remains very popular but this will be my last one in the series. How many deaths requiring the skills of a forensic archaeologist can there be in a small coastal town in Norfolk? I’m not sufficiently interested in the fate of the characters to continue to read books that must become increasingly implausible.