The House at Sea’s End
The ever-encroaching sea on the coast of Norfolk, England uncovers six skeletons, bound, shot, and hidden in a deep cove. Discovered by a team mapping Norfolk coastline erosion, their find is referred to forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway, a local university professor. She will isolate and identify the bones but forecasts they are less than a century old (modern in archaeology terms), so the scene becomes a murder site. The case is assigned to gruffly efficient DCI Harry Nelson, who has worked with Ruth on previous discoveries.
Isotope analysis of teeth and bones proves they were Germans of military age when they died approximately 70 years ago. War rumors of a German invasion of the Norfolk coast had never materialized; these bones may alter that when a young German historian arrives suspecting a British war crime. Nelson interviews two octogenarian survivors of the Broughton Home Guard who refuse to talk, sworn to silence by a “blood oath” taken during the War. Soon after, both men die of assumed natural causes. However, Nelson suspects unnatural causes and swears to discover details of that oath. Eventually unusual clues are discovered, propelling the sins of the past into the present and building to an explosive climax.
Elly Griffiths recreates the moody atmosphere of Norfolk with archaeological details that interest without overwhelming. Her characters interact realistically, some with wry humor. A highly recommended read!
384 (US), 352 (UK)