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The Night Hawks: A Ruth Galloway Mystery


The Night Hawks: A Ruth Galloway Mystery

Edgar Award-winning author Elly Griffiths spent her time during the COVID-19 lockdown composing THE NIGHT HAWKS, her 13th novel starring Ruth Galloway. I can proudly state that isolation had no negative impact on her ability to create a well-plotted mystery/thriller as it is one of the best in the series.

“They were the footprints of a gigantic hound!” This quote, from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES, opens the book, and I can assure you that Griffiths did not select it randomly. The Prologue kicks off with a memory of blood, a lot of it, and the large dog that is showing a young boy some affection on a dark night that will be ingrained in his memory.

"THE NIGHT HAWKS is an engaging novel with just enough bits of legend, archaeological wonders and a touch of the supernatural to keep the interest level quite high right through to the denouement."

Fast forward to September 2019, a few months prior to the pandemic that would change the face of our world forever. Ruth Galloway is now the head of the archaeology department at the University of North Norfolk, but not much else has changed. For instance, she is still receiving calls from DCI Nelson, who also happens to be the father of her only child, Kate.  He is now asking for her assistance with the discovery of a corpse that has washed ashore on a beach that was being patrolled by the nocturnal group of “detectorists” who call themselves the Night Hawks. During a typical night of treasure hunting, they come upon the body of a man who is lying in an area where there are a number of archaeological finds, some of which date back to the Bronze Age.

However, what seems to interest Ruth and the police most is the strange tattoo found on the hand of the deceased --- a sea monster or similar creature that is known locally as the North Sea Serpent. This will not be the last unexpected death as the notorious domicile known as Black Dog Farm becomes the site of what looks to be a murder-suicide of the married couple who owned it. Dr. Douglas Noakes, based on the note found in his printer, shot his wife and then himself. Apparently he couldn’t live with a certain burden that seemed to involve the body buried in their garden.

Dr. Noakes and Black Dog Farm have mysterious pasts that include rumors of bizarre experiments taking place there. Then there is the curious legend of the Black Shuck, the monstrous black dog purported to haunt the grounds of Black Dog Farm. I told you there would be a tasty connection to the Sherlock Holmes story! Paul and his sister, Chloe, are disturbed by these events but not too broken up as they claim to detest their father. Both Ruth and DCI Nelson are quick to pick up on this and recognize that they must do a deeper dive into the notorious history of Black Dog Farm during the time that the Noakes were in charge.

Of course, there are a slew of red herrings and interesting characters that will keep this mystery under wraps until the very end. There is also the strange and somewhat overbearing new colleague of Ruth’s, David Brown, who she is sure knows more about these occurrences than he is letting on. With so many clues running through the Night Hawks, it is just a matter of time before some hidden agenda from within the group’s membership rears its ugly head at exactly the right (or wrong) moment.

THE NIGHT HAWKS is an engaging novel with just enough bits of legend, archaeological wonders and a touch of the supernatural to keep the interest level quite high right through to the denouement. Elly Griffiths is always a top-notch plotter and keeps the proceedings just dark enough that you know you are not reading a mere tea cozy mystery. It’s great spending time with Ruth and the other characters who make up this splendid series…which just may include a large, black devil dog of sorts.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on July 2, 2021

The Night Hawks: A Ruth Galloway Mystery
by Elly Griffiths

  • Publication Date: June 21, 2022
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books
  • ISBN-10: 0358695295
  • ISBN-13: 9780358695295