What connection could the discovery of a notorious child killer’s corpse have to a new series of unnerving crimes?
Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway thinks that the body she’s unearthed near the walls of Norwich Castle may be that of Mother Hook, a woman who took in unwanted children, possibly sold their bodies and was hanged for murder in 1867. Ruth’s publicity-seeking department head is thrilled when the producer of the TV series Women Who Kill decides to add Mother Hook to the lineup. Ruth herself is less pleased even though the job brings her together with Frank Barker, an attractive professor of American history who thinks Mother Hook was innocent. At the same time, DCI Harry Nelson, the father of Ruth’s daughter, Kate, is investigating the deaths of a couple’s three young children. The first two incidents were written off as crib deaths, but the third looks like murder, and Nelson suspects the parents. As Ruth continues her work on the program, Nelson gets another child-related case. A young girl has been stolen from the house of her wealthy parents, whose nanny spends more time with the children than they do. After a frantic search, the child is found along with a cryptic note from “The Childminder.” No sooner is that case resolved than the son of Ruth’s friend Judy, a member of Nelson’s team, is taken from his sitter, and another note from the Childminder turns up. Judy is married to her high school sweetheart, but her son is the product of her affair with Cathbad, a druid friend of Ruth’s who had helped her in past cases (A Dying Fall, 2013, etc.). Could all these cases be related?
Griffiths lovingly develops the complicated, often testy relationships between the continuing characters in the course of a mystery perhaps a shade less exciting than her usual fare.