A new release from Elin Gregory is always an event to look forward to, particularly since readers usually get transported into settings and eras rarely described by other authors. This time the era is contemporary, while the setting is a museum and archaeological dig in rural Wales. The heroes aren’t necessarily the guys you’d expect in a stand-alone novel either: a museum curator and a digger driver, although there’s far more to each of them than their jobs.
Malcolm Bright is the manager of the Pemberland Centre for Heritage and Culture, formed from the merger of the town’s museum and library; in addition to carrying out his duties as a museum curator, he has to prevent the staff of the two merged institutions from killing each other – or at least from inflicting a well-aimed handbag on their opposite number. He’s also been co-opted to oversee the excavations going on in preparation for a new housing development, since the post of county archaeologist has long since been made redundant. That last role does have at least one perk, in the form of Rob Escley, a handsome digger driver who seems rather taken with Mal in his turn.
Life becomes more exciting for the pair of them when Rob’s digger unearths a Bronze Age tomb containing the skeletons of two warriors. Mal begins planning a new exhibition for his Museum, but when the expert he calls in to verify his findings tries to claim the tomb for the British Museum, the townsfolk are split between those who want the fame that a national display might eventually bring to their town and those who believe the skeletons should be kept as close as possible to their original burial site. Mal and Rob’s fledgling relationship is threatened by the controversy, especially when it seems that neither side will retain their prize.
The characters in this story are delightful, as are the gentle mysteries surrounding the tomb’s origins and its eventual destination. I particularly loved Mal and was fascinated by all the interconnected relationships between the people he comes to know in his day-to-day life in a town very different to his previous homes and work places. I was also very taken with his former mentor, who swoops in to save the day – garnering a little publicity for himself in the process.
All in all, yet another great book from an author who can make the most ordinary of settings utterly fascinating.
Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.
Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?
Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart.
Read an excerpt.