Kate is going to be a year old as of November1, 2009 and her mother, Doctor Ruth Galloway, is keenly aware that in all likelihood she is failing at motherhood across the board. It is one thing to be head of Forensic Archelogy at the University of North Norfolk. It is quite another thing to raise a child as a single parent. In addition to everything else the overwhelmed mother is doing, she was talked into having a birthday party for Kate. That means she is desperately racing though the market trying to find the right stuff for adults and kids in attendance before heading to another appointment.
Dr. Galloway is glad the child escaped being born on Halloween. Bad enough she has Pagan godfather, but at least she was born on All Saints Day. Dr. Galloway needs to get the shopping done quickly as she has to get over to the local museum for a media event. With the department chair out of town, Dr. Galloway has to stand in to represent the University at the Smith Museum for the opening of the coffin believed to belong to Bishop Augustine Smith.
Discovered at a site that was once a church destroyed by bombing during WW2 the industrial land had kept several secrets until now. As the site was being cleared and worked for a new building, the foundations of a medieval church were discovered. Also found was most likely the high alter for the ancient church. Underneath that, a coffin was discovered that dates back to the fourteenth century. The inscriptions on the coffin and other clues indicate that it holds the remains of Bishop Augustine Smith. If that is true, it would mean that Bishop Augustine Smith was entombed at a fairly minor parish church in King’s Lynn and not at Norwich Cathedral as historians have long believed.
With descendants of Bishop Smith alive and well connected, somebody made a decision to open the coffin in front of the media. The bones have to be examined and carbon dated, but first there has to be media coverage despite the fact that Lord Danforth Smith would prefer otherwise. The Smith Museum and its contents are part of a family legacy tied to the Bishop and numerous other parties so opening the coffin at the museum is going to be a media event. This is history and the opening of the coffin must be recorded and presented for all to see.
That is until Ruth goes deep into the Smith Museum and finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead on the floor next to the coffin. She calls for help and before long DCI Henry Nelson and his team are involved in the case. It is not long after that when a second body is discovered. History, legends, and the past are all present, but clearly, there is a very modern day murderer at work in A Room Full of Bones.
The fourth book in the series that began with The Crossing Places is another good one. Though it could have been better as a plot point used for one character is used again here for another one. By doing so, it comes across as a soap opera contrivance and a cliché and not character development as intended. It also creates a moment of incredulity for the reader and is jarring due to the stupidity of it all.
Still the history and the mystery are strong storytelling elements in A Room Full of Bones as is the ongoing personal relationship between individuals as well as the investigative team as a whole. This series is as much about the mystery and the past as it is about how these characters live their lives away from the job. Even the minor characters are not superfluous or shallow. These series features books of depth and complexity and are very much worth your time. They must be read in order.
A Room Full of Bones: A Ruth Galloway Mystery
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Hardback (also available in paperback and eBook formats)
Material obtained via the Plano Public Library System to read and review.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2017