The Last Remains (Dr Ruth Galloway #15) by Elly Griffiths
I strongly recommend reading the rest of the series before reading this instalment.
I approached this book with some trepidation as I knew it was to be the last in the series. I’ve loved all these books: Dr Ruth Galloway is such a real character, and I have loved reading about her many adventures, and rather complicated love life!
Set in June 2021, Covid is still having a huge impact on everyone’s lives. Our beloved Cathbad (everyone’s favourite druid) is suffering from long Covid and hasn’t returned to his usual exuberant self. DCI Nelson’s team are disrupted by members having to self isolate at home after being ‘pinged’ – it’s hard to believe it’s only two years ago.
When a human skeleton is discovered during a renovation of a local cafe, Nelson calls in Ruth to assess their age. They are modern, and are identified as those belonging to Emily Pickering, a young archaeology student who went missing in the 1990s. Suspicion falls on her Cambridge tutor, and Cathbad who was also a member of her class.
As Nelson and his trusty team investigate, Ruth is struggling on two fronts: the announced closure of the Department of Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk, where she is the Head of Faculty, and the complicated relationship she has with Nelson, which has waxed and waned throughout the series. Ruth feels that she is at a moment in time where her life is going to change – but in what way? Will she move to London to be near her ageing dad, or will she and Nelson set up home in his hometown of Blackpool? Could she ever leave her beloved Norfolk?
Griffiths has some fun – having a go at Boris Johnson for ‘scrapping the A level and now closing university departments. He claims to be a classicist but he seems pretty anti-history, if you ask me’. She even has a gentle laugh at writers when Tanya wonders ‘why would anyone pay to listen to an author taking about their books? People are really weird’.
There is a deep affection for all the characters in this series, and Griffiths brings them all back for this last hurrah. She is definitely saying a fond farewell to them all, and I was torn between wanting to finish the book to find out how it all works out, and wanting to take my time because I know it’s the last time I’ll be hanging out with these characters, in beautiful Norfolk, which is itself a major character in the series.
Griffiths does not disappoint, tying up all the loose ends in the final chapters, and leaving this reader feeling bittersweet, knowing that there are no more adventures with these friends in Norfolk (unless Griffiths weakens to pressure and surprises us with a Christmas special, haha).