- The Lantern Men, by Elly Griffiths. Quercus. $32.99.
The Lantern Men is the 12th in Elly Griffiths' Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries, which combine archeology and folklore within the framework of a police procedural.
Elly Griffiths is the pseudonym of Domenica de Rosa who, before starting the Galloway series, had written four romantic novels set in Italy.
She changed genres after her archaeologist husband told her that prehistoric man thought Norfolk's marshes were sacred, being neither land nor sea, and were bridges to the afterlife.
De Rosa says that "as he said these words, the entire plot of The Crossing Place (the first of the series, published in 2009) appeared, full formed in my head, and walking toward me out of the mist, I saw Dr Ruth Galloway".
Her agent told her she had written a crime novel and therefore needed a crime name.
So, Domenica de Rosa, romantic novelist, became Elly Griffiths, crime writer.
In The Lantern Men, Ruth has moved from her isolated house on the Saltmarsh in Norfolk into Cambridge, with her daughter and new partner, to take up a teaching position at the university.
She has left her position as North Norfolk Police resident forensic archaeologist and her former lover DCI Harry Nelson.
Nelson and his team are celebrating the conviction of Ivor March for the murder of two young women, their bodies found buried in his girlfriend's garden.
There are, however, two women still missing.
Nelson believes March has killed them to because they are his "very specific type . . . tall and blonde with blue eyes".
To Nelson's surprise, March tells him that he is willing to reveal where the two women are buried, but only if Ruth excavates them.
Ruth is concerned that she is known to a serial killer, but agrees to the excavation, which unearths not two, but three bodies of young women.
March had been a member of an artistic commune and new evidence emerges that he and his male friends would go out in a van and "pick up women".
"They said that they were saving lost souls. The Lantern Men they called themselves", after the local legend of mysterious figures who prowl the marshes at night, carrying a lantern, leading travellers to their deaths.
When another young woman is found murdered on the marsh, Ruth begins to question March's guilt and the forensic evidence that has convicted him.
In the process, she puts her own life in danger.
Griffiths' accomplished storytelling and mastery of the cliff-hanger combine in an atmospheric, chilling story of love, lust and betrayal, set against the the backdrop of the eerie landscape of the Norfolk coast.