Fans of history and mystery will love reading the Ruth Galloway books in order. This series by crime author Elly Griffiths follows a forensic archaeologist aiding the police force in murder investigations. The result is a captivating book series about murder investigations taking place in and around Norfolk and spanning centuries.
About Elly Griffiths
Elly Griffiths’s debut publication was in 2004; however, it was under a different name and a different genre.
That’s because Elly Griffiths first published under her real name, Domenica de Rosa. However, when she told her editor about what would become the Ruth Galloway books in order, she was told she needed a “crime name” for a crime series. Like that, Elly Griffiths was born alongside Ruth Galloway.
The idea for the first book in the Ruth Galloway series struck Griffiths while she was on holiday. At this point she had published four books, had two children, and her husband Andy had just switched career fields to archaeology.
As they walked across Titchwell Marsh her husband said that prehistoric man thought marshland was sacred as it is something in between land and sea. It was a bridge to the afterlife; it was neither land or sea, neither life or death. Suddenly, the plot to The Crossing Places and the character Ruth Galloway appeared to Griffiths.
The first Ruth Galloway book, The Crossing Places, won the Mary Higgins Clark Award. Griffiths has since published roughly one new Galloway book each year for the last decade and a half. Her books have become bestsellers and readers adore the forensic archaeologist.
If you’d like to learn more about everything Griffiths has written, you can read our article here.
Ruth Galloway Books in Order
Ruth Galloway is in her late thirties when the book series commences and she happily lives alone with her two cats near Norfolk. The land is bleak and remote, which creates for an incredibly atmospheric setting for these light murder mysteries. She works alongside the detective Harry Nelson regularly lending her expertise and investigating murders.
The best way to read the Ruth Galloway books in order is following the original publication order. This is the same as the chronological timeline of the books.
While each book in the series will follow a new archaeological discovery and murder investigation, each book also features more character exploration. Therefore, if you want to understand the nuance of Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson, it is best to read the Ruth Galloway books in order of publication. The pair have a tumultuous relationship, so reading the books out of order may be confusing.
There are also recurring characters throughout the series. So, reading the books in chronological order means you will be introduced to them in the right order without any spoilers.
- The Crossing Places (2009)
- The Janus Stone (2010)
- The House at Sea’s End (2012)
- A Room Full of Bones (2012)
- Ruth’s First Christmas Tree (2012) (Short Story)
- A Dying Fall / Tomb of the Raven King (2013)
- The Outcast Dead (2014)
- The Ghost Fields (2015)
- The Woman in Blue (2016)
- The Chalk Pit (2017)
- The Dark Angel (2018)
- The Stone Circle (2019)
- The Lantern Men (2020)
- The Night Hawks (2021)
- The Locked Room (2022)
- The Last Remains (Expected: April 25, 2023)
A Summary of Ruth Galloway Books in Order
Below you will find summaries for each of the Ruth Galloway books in order. If you have never read this series before, there will be minor spoilers in the summaries below, so proceed with caution. However, if you’re looking for a recap in anticipation of the latest book, these summaries are perfect.
1. The Crossing Places
With the discovery of a child’s bones near the site of a pre-historic henge on the north Norfolk salt marshes, Dr. Ruth Galloway arrives on the scene. Are they the remains of a local girl who disappeared ten years earlier — or are the bones much older?
Meanwhile, DCI Harry Nelson refuses to give up the hunt for the missing girl. Since she vanished, someone has been sending him bizarre anonymous notes about ritual sacrifice, quoting Shakespeare and the Bible. He knows that Ruth’s expertise and experience could help him finally to put this case to rest.
But when a second child goes missing, Ruth finds herself in danger from a killer who knows she’s getting ever closer to the truth…
2. The Janus Stone
Dr. Ruth Galloway’s forensic skills are called upon when builders, demolishing an old house in Norwich, uncover the bones of a child — minus the skull — beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder? Ruth links up with DCI Harry Nelson to investigate.
The house was once a children’s home, so Nelson finds the Catholic priest who used to run the place. The priest tells Nelson that two children did go missing forty years before — a boy and a girl. They were never found.
But when carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case. However, as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is trying hard to put her off the scent by frightening her to death…
3. The House at Sea’s End
A team of archaeologists, investigating coastal erosion on the north Norfolk coast, unearth six bodies buried at the foot of a cliff. How long have they been there? What could have happened to them?
Forensics expert Ruth Galloway and DCI Nelson find themselves working together again to unravel the past. Tests reveal that the bodies have lain, preserved in the sand, for sixty years. The mystery of their deaths stretches back to the Second World War, a time when Great Britain was under threat of invasion.
But someone wants the truth of the past to stay buried, and will go to any lengths to keep it that way…even murder.
4. A Room Full of Bones
It is Halloween night in King’s Lynn, and Dr. Ruth Galloway is attending a strange event at the local history museum: The opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But what Ruth finds is the body of the museum’s curator lying beside the coffin.
Soon the museum’s wealthy owner lies dead in his stables too. These two deaths could be from natural causes but DCI Harry Nelson doesn’t believe so when he arrives to investigate. It’s only a matter of time before Ruth and Nelson cross paths once more.
When threatening letters come to light, events take an even more sinister turn. But as Ruth’s friends become involved, where will her loyalties lie? As her convictions are tested, she and Nelson must discover how Aboriginal skulls, drug smuggling, and the mystery of The Dreaming may hold the answer to these deaths, and their own survival.
5. Ruth’s First Christmas Tree
It is three days before Christmas and a bitter wind is blowing across Norfolk.
Until her daughter was born, forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway didn’t do Christmas, but now that Kate is a year old, she wants it to be special.
She must get a tree, shop for food, clean the house, buy presents, including one for her new boyfriend — who she isn’t even sure is her boyfriend — and remember to get the turkey out of the freezer.
But time is rushing by and the best-laid plans don’t always work out…
6. A Dying Fall
Ruth’s old friend Dan Golding dies in a house fire. But before he died, Dan wrote to Ruth telling her that he had made a ground-breaking archaeological discovery.
Could this find be the cause of his death? And who are the sinister neo-Nazi group who were threatening Dan?
Ruth makes the trip to Blackpool to investigate, wary of encroaching on DCI Harry Nelson’s home ground. But soon Ruth is embroiled in a mystery that involves the Pendle Witches, King Arthur, and — scariest of all — Nelson’s mother.
There are forces at work in the town that threaten all that Ruth holds dear. But, in the final showdown on Blackpool Pleasure Beach, it is Cathbad who faces the greatest danger of all.
7. The Outcast Dead
Historical crimes involving a Victorian child killer may hold the key to several contemporary deaths in this macabre outing for Dr. Ruth Galloway, forensic archaeologist.
Ruth has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, which was once a prison. The body may be that of Victorian murderess Jemima Green. Called Mother Hook for her claw-like hand, Jemima was hanged for the murder of five children.
Meanwhile, DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-ago killers. He is investigating the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King’s Lynn home. He’s sure that their mother is responsible.
Then a child goes missing. Could the abduction be linked to the long-dead Mother Hook? Ruth is pulled into the case, and back towards Nelson.
8. The Ghost Fields
When DCI Harry Nelson calls Ruth Galloway in to investigate a body found inside a buried WWII fighter plane, she quickly realizes that the skeleton couldn’t possibly be the pilot. DNA tests identify the man as Fred Blackstock, a local aristocrat who had been reported dead at sea.
Events are further complicated by a TV company that wants to make a film about Norfolk’s deserted air force bases, the so-called Ghost Fields, which have been partially converted into a pig farm run by one of the younger remaining Blackstocks.
Then human bones are found on the farm and, as the greatest storm Norfolk has seen for decades brews in the distance, another Blackstock is attacked. Can the team outrace the rising flood to find the killer?
9. The Woman in Blue
When Ruth’s friend Cathbad sees a vision of the Virgin Mary, in a white gown and blue cloak, in the graveyard next to the cottage he is house-sitting, he takes it in his stride. Walsingham has strong connections to Mary, and Cathbad is a druid after all; visions come with the job.
But when the body of a woman in a blue dressing-gown turns up dead the next day in a nearby ditch, it is clear Cathbad’s vision was all too human. DCI Nelson and his team arrive to investigate the murder, and soon establish that the dead woman was a recovering addict from a nearby private hospital.
Meanwhile, Ruth, a devout atheist, has managed to avoid Walsingham during her seventeen years in Norfolk. But then an old university friend, Hilary Smithson, asks to meet her in the village. Smithson has since become a priest.
Hilary has been receiving vitriolic anonymous letters targeting women priests. Letters containing references to local archaeology and a striking phrase about a woman “clad in blue, weeping for the world.”
Then another woman is murdered — this time a priest.
As Walsingham prepares for its annual Easter re-enactment of the Crucifixion, the race is on to unmask the killer before they strike again…
10. The Chalk Pit
Boiled human bones have been found in Norwich’s web of underground tunnels. When Dr. Ruth Galloway discovers the bones are recent, DCI Nelson has a murder enquiry on his hands.
The boiling might have been just a medieval curiosity. But now it suggests a much more sinister purpose.
Meanwhile, DS Judy Johnson is investigating the disappearance of a local rough sleeper. The only trace of her is the rumour that she’s gone “underground.” This might be a figure of speech, but with the discovery of the bones and the rumours both Ruth and the police have heard that the network of old chalk-mining tunnels under Norwich is home to a vast community of rough sleepers, the clues point in only one direction.
Local academic Martin Kellerman knows all about the tunnels and their history — but can his assertions of cannibalism and ritual killing possibly be true?
As the weather gets hotter, tensions rise. A local woman goes missing and the police are under attack. Ruth and Nelson must unravel the dark secrets of The Underground and discover just what gruesome secrets lurk at its heart — before it claims another victim.
11. The Dark Angel
This next book sees Ruth wanting to escape from Norfolk and from her complicated relationship with DCI Nelson, at least for a while. Her chance arrives with an invitation from Dr. Angelo Morelli at Rome University.
Morelli, with whom Ruth once had a fleeting affair, has found some Roman remains that seem to hold a mystery. He offers Ruth a role as a consultant and a free holiday in the picturesque hilltop town of Castello degli Angeli. So, Ruth and Kate fly to Italy without telling Nelson, who is preoccupied by a recently released killer and by Michelle’s pregnancy.
But Ruth’s holiday is not a relaxing break; an earthquake precedes a murder that shocks the local community and stirs long-forgotten memories. And it’s not long before Nelson, accompanied by Cathbad, is on his way to Italy. But has Nelson ignored the dangers at home?
12. The Stone Circle
DCI Nelson has been receiving threatening letters telling him to “go to the stone circle and rescue the innocent who is buried there.” It disturbs him. Not only because children are very much on his mind, with Michelle’s baby due to be born, but because although the letters are anonymous, they are somehow familiar.
They read like the letters that first drew him into the case of The Crossing Places, and to Ruth. But the author of those letters is dead. Or are they?
Meanwhile Ruth is working on a dig in the Saltmarsh — another henge, known by the archaeologists as the stone circle — trying not to think about the baby. Then bones turn up on the site. The bones are of Margaret Lacey, a twelve-year-old girl who disappeared thirty years ago.
As the Margaret Lacey case progresses, more and more aspects of it begin to hark back to that first case of The Crossing Places, and to Scarlett Henderson, the girl Nelson couldn’t save. The past is reaching out for Ruth and Nelson, and its grip is deadly.
13. The Lantern Men
Everything has changed for Dr. Ruth Galloway.
She has a new job, home, and partner, and is no longer North Norfolk police’s resident forensic archaeologist. That is, until convicted murderer Ivor March offers to make DCI Nelson a deal.
Nelson was always sure that March killed more women than he was charged with. Now March confirms this, and offers to show Nelson where the other bodies are buried. But only if Ruth will do the digging.
Curious, but wary, Ruth agrees. March tells Ruth that he killed four more women and that their bodies are buried near a village bordering the fens, said to be haunted by the Lantern Men, mysterious figures holding lights that lure travellers to their deaths.
Is Ivor March himself a lantern man, luring Ruth back to Norfolk? What is his plan, and why is she so crucial to it? And are the killings really over?
14. The Night Hawks
The Night Hawks, a group of metal detectorists, are searching for buried treasure when they find a body on the beach in North Norfolk.
Nelson thinks that the dead man might be an asylum seeker but he turns out to be a local boy, Jem Taylor, recently released from prison. Ruth, however, is more interested in the treasure, a hoard of Bronze Age weapons. While Nelson at first thinks that Taylor’s death is accidental drowning, a second death suggests murder.
Then, Nelson arrives to an apparent murder-suicide of a couple at the isolated Black Dog Farm. Local legend talks of the Black Shuck, a spectral hound that appears to people before they die. Nelson ignores this, even when the owner’s suicide note includes the line, “He’s in the garden.” But then Ruth excavates and finds the body of a giant dog.
All roads lead back to this farm in the middle of nowhere, but the place spells serious danger for anyone who goes near. Ruth doesn’t scare easily. At least not until she finds herself at Black Dog Farm…
15. The Locked Room
Ruth is in London clearing out her mother’s belongings when she makes a surprising discovery: A photograph of her Norfolk cottage taken before Ruth lived there. Her mother always hated the cottage, so why does she have a picture of the place? The only clue is on the back of the photo: Dawn, 1963.
Ruth returns to Norfolk determined to solve the mystery, but then Covid rears its ugly head. Ruth and her daughter are in lockdown in their cottage, attempting to continue with work and home-schooling.
But, happily, a nice woman, Zoe, lives in the house next door. They become friendly while standing on their doorsteps clapping for carers.
Nelson, meanwhile, is investigating a series of deaths of women that may or may not be suicide. When he links the deaths to an archaeological discovery, he breaks curfew to visit the cottage where he finds Ruth chatting to her neighbour whom he remembers as a carer who was once tried for murdering her employer.
Only then her name wasn’t Zoe. It was Dawn.
Final thoughts on Ruth Galloway books in order
Elly Griffiths has written more than 30 books and the Ruth Galloway series makes up nearly half of them. Therefore, it should be no surprise that this is her most popular series and a great entry point into her writing.
The Ruth Galloway books in order will have you falling in love with Norfolk. Any fans of archaeology, Agatha Christie, or both, will also love these books.