On the Bookshelf...

The Last Remains

Elly Griffiths

The discovery of a missing woman's bones forces Ruth and Nelson to finally confront their feelings for each other as they desperately work to exonerate one of their own. When builders discover a human skeleton while renovating a café, they call in archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway, who is preoccupied with the threatened closure of her department and by her ever-complicated relationship with DCI Nelson. The bones turn out to be modern--the remains of Emily Pickering, a young archaeology student who went missing in 2002. Suspicion soon falls on Emily's Cambridge tutor and also on another archeology enthusiast who was part of the group gathered the weekend before she disappeared--Ruth's friend Cathbad. As they investigate, Nelson and his team uncover a tangled web of relationships within the archaeology group and look for a link between them and the café where Emily's bones were found. Then, just when the team seem to be making progress, Cathbad disappears. The trail leads Ruth a to the Neolithic flint mines in Grimes Graves. The race is on, first to find Cathbad and then to exonerate him, but will Ruth and Nelson uncover the truth in time to save their friend?

The end of an era awaits in The Last Remains. Elly Griffiths is bringing her wonderful Norfolk archaeology series to an end, hopefully just for a while. I can't review this book without thinking of sadness that my annual reconciliation with Ruth and Nelson will be no more. Over the years, there are so many remarkable characters that came from the mind of the author.

So what was the book like. It was brilliant, a true valedictorian tour of all her past books, which make an appearance. Ruth at the horns of a dilemma, when her archaeology department is threatened with closure. Nelson unsure whether he'll be forced to retire and Cathbad behaving more unusual than ever. Is he dying? So many emotions in this book. The discovery of a skeleton walled up in a coffee shop seems insignificant.

It was a book I had been anticipating for a year now, yet dreading in equal measures. After the endings of Game of Thrones and Line of Duty being botched, I feared the worst. Long-running series don't have satisfying ending, do they? Would Cathbad die, would Ruth and Nelson get together? Is there room for a sequel? Without giving too much away, Elly Griffiths has pulled off the impossible and wrote a fantastic emotion laden ending which hopefully will satisfy everyone.

So it's goodbye to Ruth and Nelson, to Cathbad, the modern day Catweazle, to Norfolk and archaeology crime fiction. Hopefully a new Harbinder and Brighton mystery soon. So much to look forward to. Yet I'll still yearn for another Ruth Galloway novel. Maybe a set of short stories about Cathbad? I'd buy it.

A 5 star golden classic to end one of the best crime novel series ever. Now, where's that TV deal?

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Review by
AJ Steel
March 24, 2023

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