Tuesday, 02 May 2023

Elly Griffiths is wrapping up her now iconic and beloved Ruth Galloway series with The Last Remains. The series, which began in 2009 with The Crossing Places, features forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway, her detecting partner (and sometimes lover) DCI Harry Nelson, and their evolving relationship over 15 books, many years, and several cases.

When we first meet Ruth in the small town of North Norfolk, she's a fan of Bruce Springsteen music and the owner of two cats, living otherwise alone at the edge of Norfolk's Salt Marshes. Over the course of Griffith's series, Ruth's world has grown to encompass a life of changes and a circle of characters, including Ruth's daughter Kate, her Druid friend Cathbad, and best friend Shona, that readers have eagerly followed.

The Last Remains is a worthy wrap-up, as the author finally settles the future of Ruth and Nelson. It’s heavy on Cathbad and we also see Kate becoming a young woman. Griffiths includes references to her other series books throughout, so keep a close eye as you read—and have a box of tissues handy. Ruth is a character that's very difficult to say farewell to.

The Crossing Places by Elly GriffithsRobin Agnew for Mystery Scene: I am so sad you are wrapping up your Ruth Galloway books, but I think the arc she has lived in now 15 books is brought to a wonderful conclusion. Can you first talk about creating Ruth? To me, she’s one of the great characters in all of mystery fiction. I used to qualify that as “contemporary” mystery fiction, but I think she’s simply an all-time classic.

Elly Griffiths: Thank you! That’s a great compliment. Well, Ruth just appeared one day. I always feel a bit embarrassed saying that, but it’s true. I was walking across Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk with my husband, an archaeologist, and he made a remark about marshland being sacred to prehistorical people. Because it’s neither land nor sea, they saw it as a bridge to the afterlife—neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. At that moment, I saw Dr Ruth Galloway walking towards me out of the mist.

What made you decide, now is the time to wrap it up? I actually applaud your decision because I can think of a great number of series that keep going well past their expiration date.

I really felt it was time to end the will they/won’t they storyline with Ruth and Nelson. Book 14, The Locked Room, had brought things to a head. The Locked Room was set during the UK lockdown of 2020 and, like so many people, Ruth and Nelson had time to assess their priorities. I knew that I had to answer the question in The Last Remains.

I loved all the references in The Last Remains to the other books in the series. Did you have to refresh your memory to include some of the details?

Yes! I had a notebook where I ticked off each book in turn. I often have to go back and refresh my memory. The strange thing is, sometimes I find seeds for the following books that I didn’t know I had planted.

You’ve really put Cathbad through the wringer in the last few books. He often is the character you seem to put in danger, health or otherwise (I’m also thinking of A Dying Fall). Can you talk about creating him, and why you enjoy putting him in danger?

When I first researched Seahenge (the Bronze Age wooden henge found on a Norfolk beach) I read that "local druids" had protested when the timbers were taken away. I knew that a druid had to be a character in The Crossing Places. I didn’t expect Cathbad to become such a main character though. I have a couple of friends who have taken a more mystical path and their experiences have definitely shaped Cathbad. I don’t exactly enjoy putting him in danger but, because Cathbad believes so strongly in an afterlife, it’s interesting to bring him to the threshold of it. Cathbad was meant to die in A Dying Fall but I just couldn’t do it!

Do you have a favorite character, other than Ruth, Cathbad, or Nelson?

I have a soft spot for Tanya, despite the fact that she can’t understand why people read books. My favorite minor character is Father Hennessey.

I’ve loved watching Kate grow up. You’ve kept the messiness of motherhood—and life—very realistic. Can you talk about writing Kate?

Through a stroke of luck, my niece had a baby at exactly the same time that Kate was born. My great-niece Gabriella has been a very helpful checkpoint. And now she’s old enough to read the books!

Will you miss Ruth and archeology?

I started to miss Ruth as soon as The Last Remains was finished. I won’t miss archaeology because I have an idea for a new series that includes history and archaeology.

I’m really enjoying your Harbinder Kaur books, another great character creation. It must be fun to change things up with each book. Do you have a favorite in that series so far, and what’s next for Harbinder?

I’m so glad you like Harbinder! She’s a rewarding character to write; I like the fact that all "her" books are so different. The Stranger Diaries was gothic, The Postscript Murders cozy and Bleeding Heart Yard a psychological thriller. For that reason, I couldn’t pick a favorite. I’m just starting a new book, The Last Word, featuring characters from The Postscript Murders.

You’re also busy writing your young adult series and your Brighton series. How do you keep all the different books separate in your head? All share clever plotting and great characters.

Thank you! I can only write one book at a time and, when I’m writing, I’m in that world. Not to say that I don’t make mistakes. Ruth once appeared in a Brighton Mystery…

What has surprised you writing about Ruth?

I’ve been surprised—and delighted—by how much people have liked her. I wasn’t sure how readers would relate to an unglamorous character who prefers books and cats to people. Turns out she struck a chord!

And finally, this is just a comment: Your books are a multigenerational family read for our family—my mother, sister, and daughter all love the books. I’m sure that’s not intentional, but thank you.

That’s so lovely to hear! I used to love sharing books with my mum and now I share them with my son and daughter. It’s a lovely thing to do.

Elly Griffiths is the author of the Ruth Galloway and Brighton mystery series, as well as the standalone novels The Stranger Diaries, winner of the Edgar Award for Best Novel, The Postscript Murders, and Bleeding Heart Yard. She is the recipient of the CWA Dagger in the Library Award and the Mary Higgins Clark Award. She lives in Brighton, England.

Robin AgnewRobin Agnew is a longtime Mystery Scene contributor and was the owner of Aunt Agatha's bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, for 26 years. No longer a brick and mortar store, Aunt Agatha has an extensive used book collection is available at abebooks.com and the site auntagathas.com is home to more of Robin's writing.

Elly Griffiths and Saying Farewell to Ruth Galloway
Robin Agnew
Monday, 01 May 2023

2022 Agatha Award Winners

The winners of the 2022 Agatha Awards were announced at the 35th Malice Domestic in Bethesda, Maryland, on April 30, 2023. The Agatha Awards celebrate the the very best in traditional mystery, works best typified by the writings of authors like the award's namesake, Agatha Christie. The genre is loosely defined as mysteries that contain no explicit sex, excessive gore, or gratuitous violence.

Winners below in bold. Mystery Scene offers its congratulations to all of the nominees and winners!


A World of Curiosities, by Louise Penny (Minotaur)
Bayou Book Thief, by Ellen Byron (Berkley Prime Crime)
Death By Bubble Tea, by Jennifer J. Chow (Berkley)
Fatal Reunion, by Annette Dashofy (Level Best Books)
Dead Man's Leap, by Tina de Bellegarde (Level Best Books)


Because I Could Not Stop for Death, by Amanda Flower (Berkley)
The Counterfeit Wife, by Mally Becker (Level Best Books) 
The Lindbergh Nanny, by Mariah Fredericks (Minotaur)
In Place of Fear, by Catriona McPherson (Mobius)
Under a Veiled Moon, by Karen Odden (Crooked Lane Books)


Cheddar Off Dead, by Korina Moss (St. Martin’s)
Death in the Aegean, by M. A. Monnin (Level Best Books)
The Bangalore Detectives Club, by Harini Nagendra (Constable)
Devil’s Chew Toy, by Rob Osler (Crooked Lane Books)
The Finalist, by Joan Long (Level Best Books)
The Gallery of Beauties, by Nina Wachsman (Level Best Books)


"Beauty and the Beyotch," by Barb Goffman (Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine, Feb. 2022)
"There Comes a Time," by Cynthia Kuhn, Malice Domestic Murder Most Diabolical (Wildside Press)
"Fly Me to the Morgue," by Lisa Q Mathews, Malice Domestic Mystery Most Diabolical (Wildside Press)
"The Minnesota Twins Meet Bigfoot," by Richie Narvaez, Land of 10,000 Thrills, Bouchercon Anthology (Down & Out Books)
"The Invisible Band," by Art Taylor, Edgar & Shamus Go Golden (Down & Out Books)


Promophobia: Taking the Mystery Out of Promoting Crime Fiction, by Diane Vallere Ed. (Sisters in Crime)
The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators, by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins)
The Handbook to Agatha Christie: The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie, by Mary Anna Evans and J. C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury Academic)
The Science of Murder: The Forensics of Agatha Christie, by Carla Valentine (Sourcebooks)
Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Crime)


Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade, Nancy Springer (Wednesday Books)
Daybreak on Raven Island, by Fleur Bradley (Viking Books for Young People)
In Myrtle Peril, by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Algonquin Young Readers)
#shedeservedit, by Greg Herren (Bold Strokes Books)
Sid Johnson and the Phantom Slave Stealer, by Frances Schoonmaker (Auctus Publishers)

Winners of the 2023 Agatha Awards Announced
Mystery Scene
Saturday, 29 April 2023


The Mystery Writers of America have announced the winners for the 2023 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, honoring the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction and television published or produced in 2022. The 77th Annual Edgar® Awards were celebrated on April 27, 2023, at the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square and livestreamed on MWA’s YouTube channel. The Edgar Awards, or “Edgars,” as they are commonly known, are named after MWA’s patron saint Edgar Allan Poe and are presented to authors of distinguished work in various categories.

Winners in bold. Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.


Notes on an Execution, by Danya Kukafka (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Devil House, by John Darnielle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux – MCD)
Like a Sister, by Kellye Garrett (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
Gangland, by Chuck Hogan (Hachette Book Group – Grand Central Publishing)
The Devil Takes You Home, by Gabino Iglesias (Hachette Book Group – Little, Brown & Co./Mulholland Books)
The Maid by Nita Prose, (Penguin Random House – Ballantine Books)


Don’t Know Tough, by Eli Cranor (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
Jackal, by Erin E. Adams (Penguin Random House – Bantam)
Shutter, by Ramona Emerson (Soho Press – Soho Crime)
More Than You’ll Ever Know, by Katie Gutierrez (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Portrait of a Thief, by Grace D. Li (Penguin Random House – Tiny Reparations Books)


Or Else, by Joe Hart (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
Quarry’s Blood, by Max Allan Collins (Hard Case Crime)
On a Quiet Street, by Seraphina Nova Glass (Harlequin Trade Publishing – Graydon House
Cleopatra’s Dagger, by Carole Lawrence (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)
A Familiar Stranger, by A.R. Torre (Amazon Publishing – Thomas & Mercer)


Tell Me Everything: The Story of a Private Investigation, by Erika Krouse (Flatiron Books)
Slenderman: Online Obsession, Mental Illness, and the Violent Crime of Two Midwestern Girls, by Kathleen Hale (Grove Atlantic – Grove Press)
Trailed: One Woman’s Quest to Solve the Shenandoah Murders, by Kathryn Miles (Hachette Book Group – Workman Publishing – Algonquin Books)
American Caliph: The True Story of a Muslim Mystic, a Hollywood Epic, and the 1977 Siege of Washington, D.C., by Shahan Mufti (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
American Demon: Eliot Ness and the Hunt for America’s Jack the Ripper, by Daniel Stashower (Minotaur Books)


The Life of Crime: Detecting the History of Mysteries and Their Creators, by Martin Edwards (HarperCollins – Collins Crime Club)
The Bloomsbury Handbook to Agatha Christie, by Mary Anna Evans & J.C. Bernthal (Bloomsbury – Bloomsbury Academic)
The Crime World of Michael Connelly: A Study of His Works and Their Adaptations, by David Geherin (McFarland)
The Woman Beyond the Attic: The V.C. Andrews Story, by Andrew Neiderman (Simon & Schuster – Gallery Books)
Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman, by Lucy Worsley (Pegasus Books – Pegasus Crime)


“Red Flag,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, by Gregory Fallis (Dell Magazines)
“Backstory,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, by Charles John Harper (Dell Magazines)
“Locked-In,” Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, by William Burton McCormick (Dell Magazines)
“The Amnesty Box,” Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, by Tim McLoughlin (Akashic Books)
“First You Dream, Then You Die,” Black is the Night, by Donna Moore (Titan Books)


Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse, by Marthe Jocelyn (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books)
The Swallowtail Legacy: Wreck at Ada’s Reef, by Michael D. Beil (Pixel+Ink)
The Area 51 Files, by Julie Buxbaum (Random House Children’s Books – Delacorte Press)
Aggie Morton Mystery Queen: The Seaside Corpse, by Marthe Jocelyn (Penguin Random House Canada – Tundra Books)
Chester Keene Cracks the Code, by Kekla Magoon (Random House Children’s Books – Wendy Lamb Books)


The Red Palace, by June Hur (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)
Pretty Dead Queens, by Alexa Donne (Random House Children’s Books – Crown BFYR)
Frightmares, by Eva V. Gibson (Random House Children’s Books – Underlined)
The Black Girls Left Standing, by Juliana Goodman (Macmillan Children’s Books – Feiwel & Friends)
Lock the Doors, by Vincent Ralph (Sourcebooks – Fire)


“Episode 1” – Magpie Murders, Written by Anthony Horowitz (Masterpiece/PBS)
“One Mighty and Strong” – Under the Banner of Heaven, Written by Brandon Boyce (Hulu/FX)
“Episode 1″ – Karen Pirie, Written by Emer Kenny (BritBox)
“When Harry Met Fergus” – Harry Wild, Written by David Logan (Acorn TV)
“The Reagan Way” – Blue Bloods, Written by Siobhan Byrne O’Connor (CBS)
“Eighteen Wheels A Predator” – Law & Order: SVU, Written by Brianna Yellen, Kathy Dobie & Monet Hurst-Mendoza (NBC Universal)


“Dogs in the Canyon” – Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, by Mark Harrison (Dell Magazines)


A Dreadful Splendor, by B.R. Myers (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Because I Could Not Stop for Death, by Amanda Flower (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
The Woman in the Library, by Sulari Gentill (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)
The Disinvited Guest, by Carol Goodman (HarperCollins – William Morrow)
Never Name the Dead, by D.M. Rowell (Crooked Lane Books)


Hideout, by Louisa Luna (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group – Doubleday)
Secret Lives, by Mark de Castrique (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)
An Unforgiving Place, by Claire Kells (Crooked Lane Books)
Behind the Lie, by Emilya Naymark (Crooked Lane Books)
Secrets Typed in Blood, by Stephen Spotswood (Knopf Doubleday Publishing – Doubleday)


Buried in a Good Book, by Tamara Berry (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)
The Shadow of Memory, by Connie Berry (Crooked Lane Books)
Smile Beach Murder, by Alicia Bessette (Penguin Random House – Berkley)
Desert Getaway, by Michael Craft (Brash Books)
The Marlow Murder Club, by Robert Thorogood (Sourcebooks – Poisoned Pen Press)


Michael Connelly
Joanne Fluke


Crime Writers of Color Eddie Muller for Noir Alley and The Film Noir Foundation


The Strand Magazine

2023 MWA Edgar Award Winners Announced
Mystery Scene