I have finished the 107th book for the book challenge. It was The House At Sea’s End (Ruth Galloway Mysteries) by Elly Griffiths.
Ruth is called to investigate the discovery of six bodies found buried on the beach at Broughton Sea’s End near Sea’s End House. The men are found with their hands bound behind their backs. They have been shot in the head and neck. Ruth extracts genetic material from their teeth and determines that they are from Germany. They also determine that these men are from the time of the Second World War.
This is Ruth’s first job after she has had the baby. She is trying to juggle motherhood with her work. This necessitates her bringing Kate on the digs at times. Nelson is always anxious to hold the baby. She is worried that people will get suspicious.
This area of Norfolk was on high alert during World War II for German invasion. The Home Guard patrolled the area looking for German landing parties. They booby-trapped the sea with fire-boats. Ruth thinks this was a party of German soldiers who were captured and executed.
In efforts to find out something about this time period, Ruth and Nelson visit Jack Hastings and his mother Irene of Sea’s End House. They point them to Hugh and Archie, who were young men who were in the Home Guard with Jack’s father Buster. Nelson pays a visit to Archie, who doesn’t want to talk about the find of the bodies. That night, Archie mysteriously dies. But he is seen reading a letter before he dies. He leaves his paperback books to a nurse’s aid with a cryptic message.
Nelson looks for the man Hugh but finds that he died in mysterious circumstances several weeks ago as well.
Then a German historian named Dieter Eckhart arrives. He had received a letter from Hugh about the six dead Germans. He had not heard about the dead bodies but is very interested. He takes an interest in Clara, the daughter of Jack Hastings. Then Dieter is found murdered on Broughton beach.
Ruth is able to crack the code in Archie’s message to the nurse’s aid. It says the truth is buried in the fourth step at the lighthouse. Nelson and Ruth go with Jack to the lighthouse and dig through the step to find a metal box that contains a reel of film. They watch the film. It is Hugh describing the murder and execution of the German prisoners of war. It implicates the Home Guard of murder. But now they must find who murdered Hugh, Archie, and Dieter.
There is a snowstorm and Ruth and Nelson are trapped at Jack Hastings house. Clara is watching Kate at Ruth’s house. Ruth discovers Clara’s diary where she says she is so angry with Dieter she could kill him. Then she finds a pair of scissors. She also learns that Clara was expelled from school for stabbing a girl with scissors. Ruth is afraid Clara will injure Kate. She has Nelson arrange for Judy to go to her house to make sure Kate is all right. Cathbad is already on his way there, as he had a bad feeling about Clara. But Kate is fine.
Then the nurse’s aid sees someone watching her apartment. She is frightened. She calls Nelson who scares him away.
Ruth is called to come look at the remains of a fire-boat by Craig on Broughton beach. She wants to go and called Tatjana who castigates her for leaving Kate. She decides to go for just a little while and meet Nelson at Sea’s End House. But when she gets to the fire-boat and is exploring it, Craig pulls a gun on her. He is the one who is killing these people because he wants to protect his grandfather’s name. His grandfather was a member of the Home Guard who wanted to kill the Germans right away. He hates the Germans. He is deranged and now wants to kill Ruth. There is a struggle. The fire-boat explodes. Ruth presses buttons on her phone and screams for help. She falls into the water. They struggle some more but eventually reach the sea wall. Nelson has fallen and been knocked out on a rock. He has been airlifted to hospital. Tatjana has heard Ruth’s message and brought the police. They capture Craig and rescue Ruth.
Ruth has Kate baptized in the Catholic church to please Nelson. She also makes a will and makes Nelson and Michelle the guardians of Kate. But at the christening, does Michelle start to suspect that Nelson may be the father?
Now Ruth is left with her feelings for Nelson. Nelson loves their daughter Kate. And he also loves Ruth. But he loves his wife Michelle, too. Ruth doesn’t dare hope that Nelson loves her.
I very much like this series. I love archaeology and I like the idea of a forensic archaeologist helping the police to solve mysteries. Ruth is a very likeable character as is Nelson. Their love for each other is sweet but problematic. Ruth is a good mother but terribly insecure. It makes her endearing. This is a wonderful series.