Title: The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths. 4stars****
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin. Quercia books 356 pp
Genre: mystery, english mystery, murder mystery, historical, mystery, series
Author: Elly Griffiths is a British novelist of the Ruth Galloway forensic anthropologist crime series. The Galloway books need to be read in order for character development and overarching story. Her first book was The Crossing Places, with The Woman in Blue the eighth. This book takes place shortly after the last, but there is not a lot of personal development. These novels were inspired by her husband who became an anthropologist and her summer holidays in Norfolk; they now live in Brighton. She read English at King’s College and worked in publishing. Her writing is often poignant, atmospheric and compelling. Griffiths recently wrote a new 1950s crime series (Stephens and Mephisto The Zig Zag Girl and Smoke and Mirrors) that I also recommend. She also writes Italian novels under the name Domenica de Rosa.
Story Line: The title is of course the Virgin Mary and we’re back with medieval legends in the religious town of Little Walsingham. Here the lady in blue is also the first victim in a puzzling modern day murder. Familiar characters, Nelson and his team, Cathbad, and Ruth cross paths and collaborate to solve the mystery. There are no old bones for Ruth this time; she’s looking into threatening letters an old college mate turned priest is receiving. She also provides much of the historical and religious insight into the town and characters. Ruth is accomplished, intelligent, a dedicated professional and a single mother. But she is still insecure and less self aware/too critical. She’s 45 with a five year old daughter. I usually enjoy catching up with the characters, but Ruth has not moved on from DI Nelson, and she needs to get a life. I’m beginning to think she’s codependent, not independent. But as always, Cathbad has his Druid moments, but he now is also a family man with wife Judy and their son and a ten week old daughter.
The lovely Norfolk landscape still plays a central role in these novels and l love the wildness, beauty, history and nature. I like that there are real snowdrops in February, justly famous and worth a visit. The British weather (unrelenting wind, rain) is so much more enjoyable from my sunny lounge chair. This is a solid, well written entertaining mystery for an enjoyable summer read.
Mysteries in Norfolk: Elly Griffiths The Crossing Places in order
Simon Beckett Dr David Hunter, forensic scientist in Norfolk in The Chemistry of Death
PD James Devices and Desires Adam Dagliesh (series)
American mysteries: Kathy Reichs Tempe Brennan series, an forensic anthropologist
PBS fans of Midsommer murders, Rosemary and Thyme, Inspector Lewis
Opening lines: Cathbad and the cat look at each other. They have been drawing up the battle lines all day and this is their Waterloo.
Well, if it isn’t Admiral Nelson himself!
Ruth is trying to write….rather to her surprise, she acquired a publisher, an editor and something called a ‘two book deal’…surely it wouldn’t hurt to check her emails….
Perhaps it is better to just believe things, as Cathbad does, without attempting to explain them.
Received gratefully as an ARC ebook from Netgalley.