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The Lost Shrine by Nicola Ford – Book Review

I reviewed the first book by Nicola – The Hidden Bones – last year and now the series has its own name. “Hills and Barbrook” after the two main archeology characters.

The Lost Shrine can be read as a stand alone although there are mentions to some of the events in book one, and an unfinished thread to move us forward. Clare, David and Jo, and others are back and already they feel familiar. There’s also some new characters including a local druid who makes things – interesting.

Clare is let loose leading her own dig in the Cotswolds, one their unit needs the money from to stay afloat. They’ve been hired by a commercial property developer to disprove the theory of the previous site lead. At least that’s what he’s hoping. The ethics of such a job is explored really well, especially when the neighbourhood is against the development too.

The police are back too. Sally, David’s other half is back in Salisbury heading up a murder investigation, the ladies in this series definitely have their work cut out for them. And is Mark Stone in the Cotswolds a help, a hindrance, or something more? Was the previous site lead’s death really a macabre suicide?

As with the previous book the tension grows throughout from a Time Team style dig (loved the drone operator’s nickname) to English country crime thriller. Hills and Barbrook have settled in with book two and I’m with them for the journey.

I was gifted a copy by the publisher for the purposes of this honest review.

The Lost Shrine is our now and ebook readers are in luck because the book is available for a mere 99p this week. Go dig it up.

The Hidden Bones by Nicola Ford – Book Review

Recently I hosted a guest post from author Nicola Ford about the archeological inspiration for her debut novel “Digging Up Bone, Digging Up Secrets. I’ve now finished the book and you can read my review below.

Synopsis

Following the recent death of her husband, Clare Hills is listless and unsure of her place in the world. When her former university friend Dr David Barbrook asks her to help him sift through the effects of deceased archaeologist Gerald Hart, she sees this as a useful distraction from her grief. During her search, Clare stumbles across the unpublished journals detailing Gerald’s most glittering dig. Hidden from view for decades and supposedly destroyed in an arson attack, she cannot believe her luck. Finding the Hungerbourne Barrows archive is every archaeologist’s dream. Determined to document Gerald’s career-defining find for the public, Clare and David delve into his meticulously kept records of the excavation.

But the dream suddenly becomes a nightmare as the pair unearth a disturbing discovery, putting them at the centre of a murder inquiry and in the path of a dangerous killer determined to bury the truth for ever.

Author

Nicola Ford is the pen-name for archeologist Dr Nick Snashall, National Trust Archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. You may have seen her on TV on Countryfile or Britain’s Secret Treasures.

Through her day-job and now her writing, she’s spent more time than most people thinking about the dead.

Website: nicolaford.com

Twitter: @nic_ford

What I Thought

For some reason crime books are one of the genres I am drawn to the least which is odd because I usually really enjoy them when I get stuck in and have watched no end of crime shows on TV in the past. This book was no different and it definitely hit the ‘need to find out who done it’ spot.

Although reminiscent of Bones this book deals with archeology rather than forensic anthropology in order to solve crimes although the osteo-archaeologist/ bone expert that appears is delightfully American. The police do take a bit of a back seat in this story because of how and where it begins, but I wonder if they might become more involved in future sequels.

This is a very British book, and it was refreshing to read about places I have heard of and even visited. There is a very country rural feel to the story with the English village busybodies out to help or hinder the investigation.

Like “Robert Galbraith’s” Cormoron Strike series and Bones the human interaction between the investigative team is as interesting as the case to be solved. There’s also some dramatic tension as Clare gets closer to solving the case. The killer is still out there and determined to keep their identity hidden.

I’d definitely recommend this to fans of the genre and odd bods who don’t always read it like me. I’m looking forward to reading more books in the series and getting to better know Clare, David, Jo and the gang on future cases.

I received an advanced review copy for the publisher for the purposes of taking part in the blog tour and for an honest review.

Digging Up Bone,Digging Up Secrets – Guest Post by Nicola Ford for The Hidden Bones Blog Tour

I’m delighted to be hosting a guest post by author of the The Hidden Bones Nicola Ford. Nicola is a real life archaeologist and has used the adage “Write what you know” to share a thrilling mystery with us. I’m just over half way through (and needing to know what happens!!!) and will share my thoughts soon. But for today let’s hear from Nicola.

Digging Up Bone, Digging Up Secrets

The dead can tell fascinating tales if you know how to listen. It’s a truth at the heart of many modern murder investigations. And it’s also central to the way Clare Hills, David Barbrook and their team of archaeologists in the Hidden Bones go about their work.

Twenty first century forensic science draws heavily on the techniques employed by today’s archaeologists. So important is it to police investigations that over the past two decades forensic archaeology has become a discipline in its own right. A discipline that has not only introduced archaeologists into police inquiries, but to the investigation of war crimes, and the aftermath of major disasters. And those techniques have revolutionised what we can learn about the lives of individuals who lived and died, in some cases, many centuries ago.

In the Hidden Bones the ability of Californian osteo-archaeologist Dr Jo Granksi to read the remains of the dead reveals secrets both ancient and modern. The scientific techniques that she applies are approaches that I rely on in my day job as the National Trust Archaeologist for the Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site. As an archaeologist I’ve sometimes been called upon to investigate the scenes of ancient killings. And it’s that experience that I draw upon in my crime writing.

I worked on a Bronze Age enclosure site at Velim in the Czech Republic that contained the remains of over a hundred people who’d died over three thousand years ago. Some were adults – men and women – but the vast majority were children. Skulls and parts of skeletons had been strewn across the site, and thrown into ditches. Whether we’re archaeologists working on the skeleton of a child killed millennia ago or forensic archaeologists working as part of a scene of crime team we want to answer the same questions. Who were they? How did they live? How did they die, and why?

When Velim was first discovered there was a raft of theories about what had happened here. Had the site been attacked? Were these the victims of warfare? Some of the remains were disarticulated. Could they have been victims of cannibalism?

That’s where meticulous excavation and the work of the osteo-archaeologists applying the same approaches as Jo Granski come in. Many of the people who died at Velim had been subjected to severe head trauma which was visible on the crania. But there were repeated patterns in the fracturing of the limb bones too. And the wear and disarticulation on some of the bones, taken with a host of other evidence gathered by the bone specialists suggests that the children that I excavated, and their companions, were the victims of ritualised sacrifice.

The past worlds I unearth as an archaeologist can sometimes prove to have been dark and dangerous places. But the present too has its shadowy secrets. And it’s some of those secrets that I dig deep to reveal in the Hidden Bones.

Synopsis

Following the recent death of her husband, Clare Hills is listless and unsure of her place in the world. When her former university friend Dr David Barbrook asks her to help him sift through the effects of deceased archaeologist Gerald Hart, she sees this as a useful distraction from her grief. During her search, Clare stumbles across the unpublished journals detailing Gerald’s most glittering dig. Hidden from view for decades and supposedly destroyed in an arson attack, she cannot believe her luck. Finding the Hungerbourne Barrows archive is every archaeologist’s dream. Determined to document Gerald’s career-defining find for the public, Clare and David delve into his meticulously kept records of the excavation.

But the dream suddenly becomes a nightmare as the pair unearth a disturbing discovery, putting them at the centre of a murder inquiry and in the path of a dangerous killer determined to bury the truth for ever.

Huge thanks to Nicola and to Ailsa from Allison & Busby for my review copy. Do check out the other posts on the tour and come back soon for my review.

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