How Elly’s star character walked out of the Norfolk mist

PUBLISHED: 09:57 25 February 2018

Author Elly Griffiths with her new book, The Dark Angel.

Author Elly Griffiths with her new book, The Dark Angel. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

Keith Skipper enjoys the Norfolk flavour of Elly Griffiths’ locally-set crime best-sellers.

Grumpy skies, scatty rain and a growling Old German Ocean provided an ideal backcloth for a crime-spiced literary lunch at the Cliftonville Hotel on Cromer seafront.

Elly Griffiths, current darling of the genre, showed how to wear fame and talent lightly with a sunny smile, a witty and revealing chat to an adoring audience and a pledge to fight Norfolk’s corner as interest grows in adapting her stories for television.

They carry a strong flavour of the county – a detective called Nelson is one of the leading characters – while forensic scientist Dr Ruth Galloway, star of the ten-book series, clings to the north Norfolk coast for solace

and inspiration.

I reminded Elly how the Inspector George Gently adventures by Alan Hunter were largely set in and around the Broads. They were transplanted to the North-East with honorary Norfolk boy Martin Shaw in the title role. Many of us were more than miffed at such liberty-taking.

She sympathised and pledged to do all she could to keep Ruth Galloway and her cast on the stage where they belong when small-screen producers and scriptwriters intensify transfer talk.

The “Made in Norfolk”

brand is particularly strong

in this case.

Elly’s husband Andy and their two children were on holiday and walking across Titchwell Marsh when one of the most successful series of crime novels in modern times was born. Andy, who gave up his job in the city to become an archaeologist, mentioned how prehistoric man had thought marshland was sacred.

It was neither land nor sea and they regarded it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife. Neither land nor sea, neither life nor death… as Andy said those words, the entire plot of The Crossing Places, opening book of the series, appeared fully formed in Elly’s head.

“And walking towards me, out of the mist, I saw Dr Ruth Galloway.”

You can’t get more Norfolk than that.

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