Title: The Deepest Grave
Author: Harry Bingham
British detective Fiona Griffiths, one of the most engaging female protagonists in crime thrillers, is back with a new case to solve.
DC Fiona Griffiths is bored. It's been months since she had a good corpse, let alone a decent murder to deal with, and it's frankly driving her nuts. And then comes the news, and she has to literally stop herself from jumping with joy: not just a murder but a decapitation, with an antique sword no less, and a murder scene that has been laid out like a particularly gruesome crossword clue.
Gaynor Charteris was an archaeologist leading a team excavating a nearby Iron Age site. Genial, respected, well liked, it was hard to see why anyone would want to kill her in such a brutal way. But as Fiona starts to dig beneath the surface, she finds evidence of a crime that leads back to King Arthur and his final battle - a crime so bizarre that getting her superiors to take it seriously is going to be her toughest job. Especially since the crime hasn't yet been committed.
I am so happy that I discovered the Fiona Griffiths series back in 2012, because I have been totally addicted to it ever since and it never disappoints! Everyone who has read Bingham’s books will know that Fiona is a very different character. Having suffered from a mental illness in her teens, she still struggles to fit into society, or “Planet Normal” as Fiona calls it, and in times of stress her illness recurs in feelings of dissociation from her own body and a strange connection to her dead victims, which makes her all the more determined to fight for justice for them. With the impulsiveness and sometimes lack of common sense that has characterised her since Book 1 in the series (Talking to the Dead), Fiona usually goes against police protocol to solve her murder cases, which often gets her into trouble with authority as well as putting her own life in danger. However, her intelligence and ability to connect with her victims in ways no other detective can usually brings results, and over the last five books, she has earned herself a grudging respect amongst her colleagues.
I was very excited when The Deepest Grave was finally released, and found it to be a worthy continuation of a series I love. True to form, Bingham delivers a most unusual murder case for his protagonist, who has been impatiently counting the days (462) since her last murder case. Set in Wales like its predecessors, the book offers a fair amount of armchair travel to this mystical place, which makes the series even more irresistible for me (I will never forget the tense and terrifying caving scene in The Dead House, Book 5 in the series). Bingham always manages to incorporate a special interest theme into each story, which saw me learning a lot about archaeology, medieval artefacts and the King Arthur legend in this latest instalment. With a brutally beheaded corpse setting the scene, the peppermint-tea-drinking and weed-smoking Fiona has her work cut out for her to solve this murder case before more people are killed, and she does so in the unconventional, thinking-outside-the-square way that has endeared her to followers of the series.
In his blog, author Harry Bingham stated that he wanted his first book to revolve as much around the mystery of Fiona’s character as it does around the crime she’s investigating, and he is staying true to this original idea by revealing little snippets of Fiona’s past in each book in the series. Fans will be pleased to hear that the great cast of supporting characters from Fiona’s work and private life are all back in The Deepest Grave, and that we get to know a few more interesting characters who may feature in future novels (I would love to see Katie back and see how she fares).
Siriol Jenkins’ narration was perfect for Fiona’s voice, and I was very happy that she continued narrating the series!
The Fiona Griffiths series is one of my all-time-favourite police procedural series, and will appeal to anyone who likes unusual murder cases with an oddball detective who doesn’t fit any mould. Bingham’s style to revolve his cases around different, interesting subject matters and incorporating details about the case that broaden the reader’s knowledge base on the subject whilst thrilling and entertaining, have made this series stand out from the fray. Whilst The Deepest Grave can be read as a stand-alone, I highly recommend starting the series at Book 1, which will give all the necessary background into Fiona’s life that makes her character so special. Highly recommended, and I am already looking forward to the next book in the series.
Other books in the series: link