I have read the 120th book for the book challenge. It was A Room Full Of Bones: A Ruth Galloway Novel by Elly Griffiths.
Ruth goes to the Smith Museum to participate in the opening of the coffin of Bishop Augustine Smith. He was a bishop in the 1500s and the ancestor of the current Lord Smith, the owner of the museum. But when she arrives, she finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead beside the coffin. She is interviewed by Harry. It is the first time she has seen him since the christening months before.
Harry begins interviewing people in the investigation of the curator’s death. It is discovered that the curator died from a bleeding on the lungs. A large quantity of cocaine was found in his office. Nelson goes to interview Lord Danforth Smith at his racing stable. His prize horse Necromancer is there. He watches the horses work out. Lord Smith tells him he has received threatening letters, just as the curator received a threatening letter. He also saw men in the woods dancing around a fire and came across a dead snake at his back door. He has a fear of snakes. He has been told to give back to the Australian Aborigines their skulls that he has in his museum or he will be put under a curse.
Ruth has a new neighbor. He is an Australian Aborigine named Bob Woogunga, a professor. He is a member of the Elginists who are asking for the Aborigine skulls to be returned to Australia. Cathbad is also a member of this group. Ruth goes to the cathedral to talk to a scholar about Bishop Augustine, who she has studied and has found to be a woman from a study of the bones. This is quite a discovery. The scholar is a transgendered individual.
Ruth throws a birthday party for Kate. Cathbad is there. All the children are enjoying the festivities. Nelson sneaks up and leaves a present at the door.
Then Lord Smith is suddenly taken ill and dies. The doctor say it is a heart attack but his wife says that he was hallucinating before he died about a boat and a carriage with black horses. Nelson looks into his death. They interview his daughter Caroline who also works at the racing stable and his son Randolph who lives at home but doesn’t do much of anything. His wife Romilly, an animal rights activist, is also interviewed.
Ruth goes out with Max Grey, the archaeologist she met some time ago. They are attracted to each other and Max spends the night. Even his dog Clarice gets along with her cat Flint. This is the first normal relationship she has had in a long time. But she can’t stop thinking about Nelson.
Judy and Clough are working a drug smuggling case. They have been staking out airports and freight terminals looking for drugs.
Nelson is visiting his daughter at university at Brighton when he is taken ill. He begins hallucinating and falls into a coma. He is taken to the hospital and no one knows what is wrong with him. He is in intensive care and is in critical condition. Michelle asks Ruth to see him but Ruth is scared that she could infect Kate if it is a virus. Cathbad says Nelson has gotten in the way of a curse meant for Lord Smith. That was what killed Lord Smith and Nelson is also cursed. Cathbad will perform a ceremony and take drugs and then enter the Dreaming to bring Nelson back. He goes to Ruth’s house and builds a bonfire and then takes some herbs and lies down in her spare room. Ruth is nervous about all this.
Nelson lies in a coma in the hospital. In his coma, he sees Cathbad come to him and lead him out of the tunnel and through the water to dry land.
Judy is given the lead in the Lord Smith case. She goes to the racing stable when she receives a text from Randolph Smith to meet him. But it is really from Len Harris, the trainer. He wants to kill her because she suspects him to dealing drugs. Clough comes to her rescue by the two of them are caught by the second daughter Tasmin and put in a room with Necromancer. They are nearly killed by the big horse until they are rescued by Caroline. They have found their drug ring here at the racing stable. Randolph Smith, now Lord Smith, agrees with Caroline to return the Arborigine skulls to Australia.
Nelson comes out of his coma. Ruth goes to see him with Kate. Michelle decides to let Nelson see Kate once a month. The doctors and pathologists discover that the spores from Bishop Augustine’s shroud were poisoned and people who breathed them were poisoned. Neil Topham ‘s system was compromised due to drug use. Lord Smith had diabetes and a heart condition. Ruth did not get poisoned because she had been away when the coffin was opened taking a call from Cathbad. Cathbad saved the day once more.
A repatriation ceremony is held at the Smith Museum. Bob Woogung accepts the skulls and they will be sent back to Australia. Ruth is there with Max and Michelle and Harry are there.
Things seem to be almost normal. Ruth seems to be in a somewhat normal relationship with Max, but she still thinks about Harry a lot. She will be working with him on cases so one wonders what their relationship will actually be like. This was an interesting story in that there is never an actual murder. There are the suspicious deaths but they are all related to a curse. And you are left wondering if it is really the curse or the poisoned spores. Hmmmm.