A Room Full Of Bones, Elly Griffiths
Electronic / Kindle Edition
This was a Kindle Daily Deal on 31 October, 2013, because it was a “mystery with a halloween theme”. That, coupled with the fact that Amazon keeps telling me to read the next book in the Ruth Galloway Mystery Series (A Dying Fall) because I liked Ann Cleeves Shetland Island Quartet, is what led me to pick this particular book as my Halloween read.
I have seldom regretted a book choice this much.
I strongly suspect that this book was written for those who’ve read previous entries in the Ruth Galloway series and decided that–for whatever mysterious reason–they like this world and these characters. Because there really isn’t much mystery to speak of. Most of the book is told in present tense from shifting points of view. Ruth and her married-but-sometimes-lover, police DCI Harry Nelson, spend most of the book doing things like getting up and getting breakfast and driving places while thinking about how much they hate various things.
Really. That’s the thrust of the book. I can’t count the number of sections that went exactly like this: “Ruth is hungry. She makes herself a bowl of porridge and a piece of toast. Ruth has always hated porridge, really. It’s hot and gluey and not at all like a real food. But it is quick and filling and she has a lot to do today.”
Ruth Galloway is supposed to be an anthropologist specialising in bones (Temperance Brennan, anyone?) but she seems to be more of a professional atheist specialising in mocking any and all religions. Even that of her best friend Cathbad, a practicing Druid who used to be called Michael Malone, is unsafe from endless passages deriding religion as “rubbish”.
I don’t expect anyone to adhere to my religion, and I don’t feel hurt when my religion (Christianity) is derided. After all, it’s outlasted stronger opinions than the negativity from places like Elly Griffiths’ keyboard. So it’s not a case of Christian butthurt when I assure you the worst part of this book is the relentless anything-but-the-Bible-thumping that Griffiths engages in. The reader can’t go three pages without being reminded that Ruth hates Christianity, that her parents were nutters of the Fundamentalist Variety and Ruth hates anything to do with any sort of God. In fact, by reading this paragraph alone I estimate that you have digested at least 75 pages of the book’s total 353.
If these sins aren’t enough to persuade you, let me add that for mystery-novel lovers the book commits an even graver sin yet. There is very little mystery to be had. To be sure there’s a dead body in spooky circumstances in the opening chapter, and a subsequent death further down the pike. But the book isn’t really about figuring out who did it or why. It’s about Ruth, her baby by Nelson, Nelson and his wife and the routines all these people go through in the wake of the first suspicious death. Even the end discovery of “whodunit” is a non-event entirely, mentioned in passing while discussing some mundanity in the characters’ lives.
This is a smudged-dark romance between two bitter forty-year-olds disguised as a mystery. It is an atheist polemic disguised as a mystery. It is not a mystery.
I’m giving it two bookworms because I’m in a charitable mood.