An Italian vacation involves a bone expert in yet another murder.
British archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway’s specialty has led her to assist the police and involved her in a love affair with DCI Nelson (The Chalk Pit, 2017, etc.). The product of that affair is Kate, whom Nelson enjoys spending time with even though he’s still married to Michelle, who knows about his daughter. At the wedding of one of Nelson’s officers, Ruth runs into Tim Heathfield, a former member of Nelson’s team whose clandestine affair with Michelle caused him to leave Norfolk. Michelle, who’s pregnant, has denied having sex with Tim, but it’s likely to become obvious very soon which man fathered her child, since the Nelsons are white and Tim is black. Stressed over her complicated relationship with Nelson, Ruth jumps at the chance when archaeologist Angelo Morelli invites her to come to Italy to look at some bones for a TV series he’s doing, offering her the use of his grandfather’s apartment in a hilltop town an hour from Rome. She takes Kate without telling Nelson, who’s busy dealing with a man just released from prison who’s threatened him. In Italy Ruth learns that the locals differ sharply about whether Angelo’s grandfather Pompeo was a hero of the Resistance in World War II. When an earthquake strikes nearby, Nelson rushes with Cathbad, a friend who speaks Italian, to join her. They arrive soon after Ruth finds the murdered body of town priest Don Tomaso. The earthquake has uncovered some bones buried in the churchyard that are most likely those of a friend of Pompeo’s who vanished during the war. Ruth is targeted by someone who does not want her looking into old deaths or new; Nelson’s family may not be safe from an ex-convict whose claim to have found God in prison does not impress the English police.
The latest in Griffiths’ impressive series, which cleverly weaves several mysteries into the continuing story of the leading couple and their circle of friends, is certain to delight devoted fans and newcomers alike.