15 October 2016

Review: THE WOMAN IN BLUE, Elly Griffiths

  • this edition published 2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • source: my local library
  • 356 pages
  • #8 in the Ruth Galloway series
  • ISBN 9-780544-417854
Synopsis (author website)

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…

My take

I like the way the plot of this book makes use of a current contentious issue in the religious world: that of women priests in the Anglican Church.

Ruth's friend Hilary is visiting Walsingham for a conference which prepares women to become bishops. She has received a number of threatening letters related to her position as a priest and contacts Ruth to ask her advice. Ruth passes copies of the letters on to Harry Nelson.

There seemed to be less of an archaeological emphasis in the plot than usual, although Walsingham is noted for its reliquaries and Ruth does some research about them.

Threads from earlier novels are further developed, particularly Nelson's marriage and his relationship with Ruth. I really enjoyed the latest episodes in the continuing story, as well as the mystery of who the madman is who is threatening Hilary.

Highly recommended, but I also recommend that if you haven't read any in the series, that you start from the beginning.

My rating: 4.7

About the author
Elly Griffiths recently was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library for services to the genre and for her popularity with readers.
I've also read
4.8, DYING FALL- audio book
4.5, THE GHOST FIELDS, Elly Griffiths - audio book
4.7, THE OUTCAST DEAD, Elly Griffiths - audio  


bermudaonion said...

All of my friends love her work. I really need to try one of her books.

Anne H said...

Elly Griffiths has a second series now, set in Brighton a few years after the end of the Second World War. The ZigZag Girl and Smoke and Mirrors have appeared already - lovely characters involved in showbiz, such as the magician Max Mephisto, plus a sympathetic police detective. Equally unmissable as the Ruth Galloways.


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