The Woman In Blue by Elly Griffiths

The Woman In Blue by Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A vision of the Virgin Mary foreshadows a string of cold-blooded murders, revealing a dark current of religious fanaticism in an old medieval town in this Ruth Galloway mystery.

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 is found dead the next day in a nearby ditch, it is clear Cathbad’s vision was all too human—and that a horrible crime has been committed. DCI Nelson and his team are called in for the murder investigation and soon establish that the dead woman was a recovering addict being treated at a nearby private hospital.

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, and Ruth is amazed to discover that her friend is now 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—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…

When a young woman is murdered in a pilgrimage town near to where Dr Ruth Galloway lives DCI Harry Nelson is quickly on the case. While this time there isn’t much need for Ruth’s archaeological talents, she is still drawn in by the disturbing similarities to the case and some threatening letters a priest friend of Ruth’s also in the town for a conference has been receiving lately. The case grows more complicated however when a second woman is murdered and all too soon both Harry and ruth find this case hits even closer to home than either is prepared for.

I have been really enjoying this series and found this book to be an exceptional addition to it. Readers who are picking this book up by itself should be able to follow along with everything fairly easily – the links and history between the main character’s is fairly well described without too much info-dumping, though I must admit the previous books are all well worth a read in their own right. Readers shouldn’t be worried though about not understanding some of the cross-overs between the characters and their history though.

The plot itself was quite good though also I found it quite straightforward. Usually I enjoy the history of the archaeology or the links to Ruth and a dig site or something similar and that side of this book was a bit thinner than I’ve found previous. The small town is a massive local pilgrim’s site though so the history and such is there, just in a bit of a different context. I feel many readers might feel that this is refreshing and a different take – but I admit I missed some of the archaeology, just personally.

I did however like that there were some important changes and truths exposed personally with Harry and Ruth – and Michelle, Harry’s wife. A lot of the complexities surrounding their relationship and history has been bubbling under the surface for the last few books and I was pleased there was finally some decisive steps taken. I still definitely feel these relationships will remain complicated – and a part of me wishes a few different decisions had been made – but I was very pleased that things didn’t remain in a status quo as they have for the last few books. That was lovely to read and see finally happen.

For an interesting and enjoyable murder mystery this was a good book and is an excellent series I’m thoroughly addicted to.

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