Brian's Reviews > A Room Full of Bones

A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths
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's review
Mar 12, 2012

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Read from March 04 to 12, 2012

I suppose the main advantage of a series is you have the opportunity to revisit a group of characters in much the same way one sees friends and acquaintances over a long period of time. They become more real. Important even. I was getting that feeling about Ruth Galloway and her friends until A Room Full of Bones got me thinking instead about all the disadvantages of a series. To start with there is that not so subtle stretch at the beginning with a baritone voice-over that hums, "Previously on Dr. Ruth... I cringe. It isn't easy to seamlessly backtrack through 4 previous novels to enlighten new readers (or old readers with less than facile memories, e.g. mine) without muddying up the floors and interrupting any hope of a galloping start. And especially in a mystery series, where fresh blood can't be supplied by anonymous donors, you need more characters and more victims each book until the reader cries out for a dramatis personnae even if it requires a triple-bi-fold insert to list them all. I was lost too often. Finally, beating dead horses seems as inhumane as it is inevitable when the heroine is perpetually balanced on the fulcrum of a belief in science and dependence on pagan craft. What was intriguing in Book 1 has become a little too predictable in Book 5. Elly Griffiths remains a very tempting author, but the task of keeping a series both readable and fresh is daunting, perhaps too daunting, perhaps a misuse of her fine talents.

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