With the days becoming shorter and colder, I find myself craving comfort reading. For me, that means a cozy British mystery. I’m looking for a series that is set in a small village where lots of tea is consumed, and the text is full of fun British words like ‘knackered.’ A good whodunit with a satisfying conclusion is always a plus.
My current series of choice is The Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths. I’m on book 9 of 13 (#14 will be released June 2022) and teetering between wanting to rush through the next four to see what happens to my characters next and wanting to slow down because I’m already dreading the end of the series. These characters now feel like old friends and I know that I will miss their company.
The first book, “The Crossing Places”, was published in 2009 and introduces us to our main characters. Dr. Ruth Galloway is a forensic anthropologist, specializing in bones, and is a professor at fictional University of North Norfolk. She lives in a remote cottage on the edge of the salt marsh with two cats. She’s intelligent, quirky, and set with the same anxieties (weight, romance, career) other women in their late 30s would understand. When a child’s bones are found on a nearby beach, the local police department asks her to consult. Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson’s often gruff manner hides a sharp intelligence. He doesn’t like dealing with emotions and can be old-fashioned at times. He is a capable and dedicated police officer. These two are joined by an amazing cast of supporting characters. A druid named Cathbad is a particular favorite of mine, along with the other members of Nelson’s squad.
Each book has its own stand-alone story. However, I would recommend starting with book one, “The Crossing Places”. Reading the series from the beginning allows the reader to watch the relationship between Ruth and Nelson, and between the other regular characters, develop. The series spans years and contains plenty of interpersonal drama to reflect that length of time.
For me, the setting is as important as the storyline. It reflects the mood of the book whether it is a delightful rom-com in the sunny countryside, or a Victorian mystery in smoggy London. A convincing setting also allows me to armchair travel to far-flung locales. The Ruth Galloway Mysteries take place in Norfolk, which is primarily a rural county. It is bordered by the North Sea, and its coast line and cliffs make frequent appearances. Ruth’s cottage is at the edge of the saltmarsh. A place that many find eerie, but one Ruth loves for its remoteness and beauty.
I invite you to find your own comfort reads for fall and winter. If you also have a fondness for British mysteries, I would recommend Anne Cleeves, M.C. Beaton, The Lady Sherlock series (historical) by Sherry Thomas, or Deanna Raybourn (historical mysteries).
Amanda Gramley is the Adult Programming Coordinator with the Alamance County Public Libraries. You may contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.