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Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway has excavated a body from the grounds of Norwich Castle, 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.
DCI Harry Nelson has no time for long-ago killers. Investigating the case of three infants found dead, one after the other, in their King's Lynn home, he's convinced 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.
In Mary Higgins Clark Award winner Griffiths's competent sixth mystery featuring archeologist Ruth Galloway (after 2013's A Dying Fall), Mark Gates, a TV researcher for a British documentary series called Women Who Kill, takes an interest in Ruth after she uncovers the bones of the notorious Mother Hook, a Victorian-era child minder accused of killing at least 20 children in Norwich. Despite the damning folktales, Ruth suspects that Mother Hook was innocent a belief that clashes with Mark's vision of a monstrous child murderer. As Ruth seeks clues lost long ago, her former lover, Det. Chief Insp. Harry Nelson, is closing in on a 37-year-old woman who may have killed her three infants. Meanwhile, the self-described "Childminder" begins kidnapping young children from their homes. Griffiths astutely plays on modern anxieties about working parents and childcare. A clever ending compensates for the frequent narrative-slowing switches between Harry's and Ruth's cases.