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Last Updated onIf you enjoy reading archaeological mysteries, Elly Griffiths with her Ruth Galloway archaeological mystery series is an author to start reading. Her series has often been compared to that of Amelia Peabody by Elizabeth Peters and Gideon Oliver series by Aaron Elkins.
Besides the popular Ruth Galloway books, Elly Griffiths has also written a second, shorter, series titled Stephens & Mephisto, a historical mystery series that takes place in the years past WWII, in the 1950s.
Here are the Elly Griffiths books in order for her two series. The book list is updated regularly.
New Elly Griffiths Books
Ruth Galloway Series in Order
- The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway #1), 2009
- The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway #2), 2010
- The House at Sea’s End (Ruth Galloway #3), 2011
- A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway #4), 2011
- Ruth’s First Christmas Tree (Ruth Galloway #4.5), 2012 (free download)
- A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway #5), 2012
- The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway #6), 2014
- The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway #7), 2015
- The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway #8), 2016
- The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway #9), 2017
- The Dark Angel (Ruth Galloway #10), 2018
- The Stone Circle (Ruth Galloway #11), 2019
- The Lantern Men (Ruth Galloway #12), 2020
Stephens and Mephisto Series in Order
- The Zig Zag Girl (Stephens & Mephisto #1), 2014
- Smoke and Mirrors (Stephens & Mephisto #2), 2015
- The Blood Card (Stephens & Mephisto #3), 2016
- The Vanishing Box (Stephens & Mephisto #4), 2017
- Now You See Her (Stephens & Mephisto #5), 2019
Standalone Elly Griffiths Books
Books Written As Domenica de Rosa
Ruth Galloway Series Synopsis
The Crossing Places
We first meet Dr. Ruth Galloway in The Crossing Places, the first book of the Elly Griffiths main series. Ruth is living alone in Saltmarsh near Norfolk, and she is an archaeologist. Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson is assigned to the case of finding out about the bones of a child discovered on a lone nearby beach. He asks Ruth for help with the bones, and Ruth finds out that the bones are really ancient – like a two-thousand-year-old ancient. But, at the same time, Ruth gets drawn to a case Nelson can’t stop thinking about, of a girl, Lucy Downey, who went missing some 10 years ago. And when another girl goes missing, Nelson and Ruth know that things are about to become much more complicated.
The Janus Stone
Ruth is once again called to a case involving a child’s bones when construction workers find the bones (without the skull) of a child when demolishing a big house in Norwich. Are these again old bones or maybe someone more contemporary killed the child? Now Ruth and detective Nelson are once again working together to solve the case. At the same time, Ruth finds out she is pregnant, must somehow tell Nelson that he is the father, and has to also escape – without harming her unborn child in the process – when she is kidnapped. Fun times.
The House at Sea’s End
Ruth is a mother now and is back from maternity leave. But she can’t have her peace and quiet when she is called to the site where six bodies have been found during a coastal erosion investigation. The story goes back to the times of WWII and German soldiers, when Ruth’s investigation discovers the bodies to be that old. Ruth is also plagued by guilt over her child, Kate, with whom she is not spending more time due to her work.
A Room Full of Bones
A story for the Halloween lovers. Ruth is asked to supervise a special event when the Smith Museum in King’s Lynn is working on opening the coffin of a medieval-times bishop. But when Ruth arrives at the scene, she finds Neil Topham, the curator, solid dead near the coffin. There are some other seemingly unrelated but slightly paranormal events that involve Nelson’s strange illness, that Ruth has to figure out if she wants to save Nelson from certain death.
A Dying Fall
Ruth received a note from his archaeologist friend, Dan Golding, telling her that he made a breakthrough discovery. Except, before he tells her what that is, he dies in a house fire. Could his death be related to his archaeological discovery, and who would want him dead anyway? To find out the truth, Ruth makes a trip to Blackpool, which is also the place where Nelson grew up. The ancient bones Dan found could be related to someone very famous in the old days. But seemingly a whole town doesn’t want the secret revealed, even if it means killing off Ruth in the process.
The Outcast Dead
We’re back to Ruth discovering bones once again, this time for finding the bones of the infamous Mother Hook, who was hanged in 1867 for the murder of five children. In the meantime, Nelson investigates the death of several children in the current times, specifically the children of Liz Donaldson. Did they die by accident, or by murder? And why are now babies also disappearing? The cases start clashing with Ruth’s sudden notoriety with the new TV show she is involved in titled Woman Who Kill.
The Ghost Fields
And we’re back to WWII when construction workers discover a crashed plane with the pilot still in the seat. Except Ruth finds out that the body can’t possibly belong to the actual pilot. When DNA testing reveals the name as being Fred Blackstock, a rich aristocrat guy who seemingly died at sea, Ruth and Nelson are trying to find out what exactly happened. Also, Ruth and Nelson’s daughter, Kate, is now 5 years old and is starting school. Things get quite complicated on the family side since Nelson is still (un)happily married to Michelle.
The Woman in Blue
Walshingham is a medieval village where people are known to have seen religious apparitions. When Ruth’s druid friend, Cathbad, notices one night at the local cemetery a woman in a white dress, he believes he’s just seen the Virgin Mary. But when the next day a woman’s body is found which is covered in blue cloth, Ruth strongly suspects that this is the women Cathbad actually saw the other night. The dead woman is a young model, Chloe Jenkins, who was strangulated. At the same time, Ruth is asked for a a friend who is now an Anglican priest for advice as she is receiving threatening letters, even though Ruth is as atheist as they come, she must get involved.
The Chalk Pit
When boiled bones have been found in the underground tunnels of Norwich, Ruth is called to investigate. But she finds out that the bones are recent and not ancient or medieval, so now Nelson is involved since now they’re talking about murder. Thing is, a bunch of homeless people are living in those underground tunnels, and they seem to be the target of someone who wants them dead. On the home front, Ruth wants to get closer to Nelson, but he is still married, and the relationship between Ruth and Nelson is still complicated.
The Dark Angel
Ruth gets a letter from her old friend, Dr Angelo Morelli, a famous Italian TV archaeologist. He’s found some bones and needs her help because things are strange. Ruth needs a holiday anyway, so Italy it is. After all, now Nelson won’t leave his wife Michell since she is preggers, so Ruth’s ego is quite deflated. And since Angelo is one of Ruth’s older boyfriends, a holiday to cheer her up a bit is more than welcome. Nelson is not happy about Ruth leaving without him, but when there is talk about an earthquake in Italy, he takes the first flight to check on them. And things, again, get complicated.
The Stone Circle
This book takes us to the beginning, The Crossing Places, as Nelson receives some threatening letters (just as he got them in the first Ruth Galloway book). Thing is, the author of said letters, Erik Anderrsen, is dead. So who sent him the new ones? Now Nelson, accompanied by his team and friends, Ruth, Judy and Cloughie, have to revisit a cold case from many year ago, but as usual things get once again complicated, and now Nelson and team must run against time to solve a present-day murder and find a missing child. And who is the father of Michelle’s child anyway?
Stephens & Mephisto Series Synopsis
The Zig Zag Girl
The Stephen & Mephisto series starts in the 1950s in Brighton, when Detective Inspector Edgar Stephens is called to investigate the body of a girl who has been cut into three and delivered to the police station. The scene of the crime reminds Stephen of a trick his old friend, Max Mephisto, invented, and when another person is murdered, Stephen asks Mephisto for help. Except Mephisto doesn’t really want to leave the world of magic tricks behind to work on a case.
Smoke and Mirrors
Max is back to doing his magic and star in the pantomime Alladin, but his appearance is overshadowed in the news headlines by the story of the disappearance of two local kids who are later found dead in the snow surrounded by sweet. Of course the news will start calling the case Hansel and Gretel. When it is clear that the case touches on theater and new kids go missing, Edgar asks once again his help, Max, in solving the case.
The Blood Card
The story of the third Stephens & Mephisto book is set around the times of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. Max is busy with his career and is performing at the Theatre Royal in London. At the same time, Edgar is working the case of the death of Madame Zabini, a local fortune teller in Brighton. Max and Edgar once again come together to solve a must unusual case when a blood card is left at the body of Colonel Peter Cartwright, someone they both knew from their old times in the war. So how are these cases connected and can they solve the mystery in time?
The Vanishing Box
Max Mephisto and his daughter, Ruby, take on a gig around Christmas at the Brighton Hippodrome. But, once again, their success is overshadowed by much grimmer news. Girls from the theater getting killed. Since the deaths are close to both Max and Edgar, the two team up to solve this most unusual set of murders since the bodies seem to become more and more.
Elly Griffiths Biography
The British crime mystery author Elly Griffiths was born in 1963, in London, as Domenica de Rosa. The family lived in London until Domenica was 5, around the time when the y moved to Brighton.
She started writing at the young age of 11 when he crafted her first novel, which was a murder mystery set in Rottingdean, close to the village she is living in.
She attended local state schools, and later she went to King’s College in London where she majored in English.
After graduating from the university, she started working in a library and then for a magazine. Later on, she moved on to work in publishing as an editorial director for children’s books at HarperCollins. She didn’t begin writing until she was on maternity leave in 1998, at the age of 35. Before publishing her first novel, she did have several unpublished manuscripts which included that crime novel she wrote as a child, a story set in the publishing world, and a saga about Italian racing drivers.
When starting the Ruth Galloway series, the author published it under the pseudonym Elly Griffiths, a name that stuck for the rest of the series and her Stephens & Mephisto series, as well as some of her standalone novels. The pen name comes from her grandmother who had the same name, Ellen Griffiths. However, the publisher wanted her to change Ellen to Elly as it sounded younger.
Initially, she intended for The Crossing Places to be a standalone novel, but after readers wanting more of Ruth, she continued with a second book, turning the Ruth Galloway mysteries into the internationally bestselling series it is today.
In an interview, Elly Griffiths mentioned that Ruth Galloway is a combination of several strong women in Elly’s life, such as her two older sisters and her aunt. Ruth is witty, fun to be around, has wry humor, and loves sequins, even though that is just in secret. She is a stout atheist, and this comes from the author being very interested in their points of view. She is not without self-perceived faults, though. She has a weight problem and she often is clumsy. Sometimes she even feels insecure about herself.
She is not only a forensic archaeologist that teaches at a Norfolk university, but she is also quite the sleuth. She is also in a very complicated relationship with a police officer, DCI Harry Nelson, with whom she has a daughter, Kate. Ruth lives on the edge of Saltmarsh, a bleak marsh land. While the actual name of the place is not real, it is loosely modeled after the North Norfolk coast.
The Ruth Galloway series is an archeological mystery, and while Elly Griffiths has no hands-on experience in the field, her husband is an actual archaeologist. Him giving up work in the city as a banker and picking up archaeology was also a gentle push that led to the creation of the author’s popular series.
The author’s debut novel was The Italian Quarter, published under her real name, Domenica de Rosa. While a fictional story, it was loosely based on the author’s dad’s life, who was an Italian immigrant living in Clerkenwell, London’s Italian quarter. The books written under her real name are not mysteries, but all the books under Elly Griffiths are.
When she writes her books, Elly usually begins with an outline of each of the chapters directly typed on the computer. Later on, she fleshes all those chapters out to full-fledged novels. Although her husband, Andy, is an archaeologist, she doesn’t ask him too many questions about the craft. Instead, he connected her with fellow archaeologists who can help her with expert answers to her questions.
These days, the author writes around two books every year, especially since she started her Stephens & Mephisto series, writing one book a year in each series – or one book in a series and a standalone novel, which happened in 2018.
The Stephens & Mephisto is a historical mystery series set in the 1950s featuring a policeman, Edgar Stephens, and a magician, Max Mephisto, who served together in the army and they now work together to catch killers.
The series has an inspiration the World War II Magic Gang, with one member Jasper Maskelyne who was also working with the author’s granddad who was a music hall comedian. Max Mephisto’s career is loosely based on that of Jasper Maskelyne’s.
Unlike the Ruth Galloway that takes place in Norfolk, the Stephens and Mephisto series takes place in Brighton, where the author herself has been living from the age of 5. Of course, modern Brighton is not quite the same as the Brighton of the 1950s.
The Stranger Diaries, a standalone novel published in 2018, is a Gothic murder mystery featuring Clare Cassidy, a teacher of Literature at Talgarth High, who is also writing the biography of R.M. Holland, whose house is the basis for the Talgarth High school. Holland has a chilling short story titled The Stranger, one that Claire finds fascinating. The entire house is quite spooky too. When a colleague is murdered within the school, there is a line from Holland’s book next to the body.
Elly Griffiths received the 2011 Mary Higgins Clark Award for The Crossing Places, and the author got several starred reviews from places like RT Book reviews, Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews.
Currently, Elly Griffiths lives near Brighton her husband and two teenage children and is working on developing her next novel. When she is not writing, she is teaching creative writing and enjoys horse riding and swimming, which she loves doing between April and October. She also enjoys reading books and going on walks with her family.
Praise for Elly Griffiths Books
I refuse to apologise for being in love with Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson. (Val McDermid)
Griffiths supplies proof that thrillers can increase the pulse rate while tackling more serious issues (Guardian)
Ruth Galloway is one of the most engaging characters in modern crime fiction (Kate Mosse)
Elly Griffiths writes ever-more ingenious detective stories with a powerful sense of place and a varied cast of sympathetic and unusual characters. Her heroine is a winner (The Times)
Compelling, intelligent and increasingly mesmerising (Peter James on The Stranger Diaries)
At once a homage to the Gothic thriller, and a re-imagining, it is goose-bump spooky, smart, and haunting, in every sense. I loved this book! And you will too (Louise Penny on The Stranger Diaries)