Kathy 's Reviews > The Woman in Blue

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths
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Sometimes, I think that the hardest reviews to write are for the books you most love. Trying to do justice to a favorite read, a favorite author, a favorite character and series is a tall order in a short space. So it is with the latest entry into the Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Of course, I haven't read anything by Elly Griffiths that I haven't loved, and Ruth Galloway is such a special character to me, one in which I'm so emotionally invested. The Woman in Blue took my emotions to a whole new level, as it is a pivotal book in Ruth facing her own emotions and truths. I felt like both Ruth and I were wrung out by the end, except Ruth is always more composed than I.

The action, and there is plenty of that along with the emotion, gets underway when a beautiful young woman is discovered strangled and left in a ditch outside of Walsingham, a Norfolk village known as "England's Nazareth" because of its shrines, medieval religious ruins, and pilgrimage site. Its connection to and sightings of the Virgin Mary enhance its Nazareth moniker, and it is the incomparable character of Cathbad, Druid friend of Ruth's, that mistakes this murdered woman as a possible vision of the Holy Mother the night before her body is found. House-sitting for a friend in Walsingham, Cathbad sees a woman in a white gown with a blue coat-like attire in the graveyard next to where he is staying, but she slips away before he can discover who or what she is. So, a bit of the other-wordly atmosphere is set up in a place where religious history and myth are the bones of the community. DCI Harry Nelson is called into investigate, and the woman is identified as a somewhat famous model who was in residence at a local drug rehabilitation center called The Sanctuary.

Ruth is on a parallel course to Walsingham, as an old college friend named Hilary Smithson emails Ruth about meeting in Walsingham. Hilary, who is now an Anglican priest, is attending a course for female priests on becoming bishops. Not everyone is thrilled about Hilary and her fellow female priests being in the priesthood, and Hilary confides in Ruth about nasty, threatening letters received from an anonymous source. Religion is not Ruth's passion by any means, but she is interested in the archaeological history of Walsingham and the welfare of her friend, so Ruth agrees to read the letters. She then encourages her friend to contact the police, and, thus Nelson, the father of Ruth's five-year-old daughter becomes involved in Hilary's problem. When one of the female priests who is attending the course with Hilary is also found murdered, Nelson has to consider the possibility that the letters and the two murders are related. Ruth and Nelson find themselves once more in the thick of a case that brings them together trying to solve murder and trying to figure out their place in one another's lives.

Elly Griffiths does so many things well that there's always the risk of leaving something out when talking about why her Ruth Galloway series is so special. The characters are always at the top of the list when readers praise the series. Ruth and Nelson, with their complicated relationship (after all Nelson is married and seems to want to stay that way, but does he?) is one of my favorite parts of every book. I was delighted that The Lady in Blue had both characters doing some real soul searching and some affirmation of repressed truths. Ruth's witty conversation, both to herself and others, tells us so much about this dear friend. Cathbad is just a gem of a character, and he definitely puts the cool in Druid. All the supporting cast and the newly introduced characters for this particular story have such attention to detail and development that I truly want to meet them all. Setting is another area in which Elly excels, and readers get to become ensconced in the village of Little Walsingham, as well as still enjoy the beautiful geography of Ruth's marshlands. There is something oddly peaceful about the wilds of Norfolk. Elly Griffiths seems to have a bond with the land and sea of this area that transfers beautifully to the written page. Of course, the stories in which these wonderful characters and settings exist are always suspenseful and thrilling, and as in most first-rate mysteries, time is always ticking on the page and in the reader's mind.

I received an ARC of The Woman in Blue, which was greatly appreciated, as the book doesn't come out in the U.S. until May 3rd. It is, however, already published in the UK if readers can't wait, and so many fans of this series just can't. I have loved all the books in the Ruth Galloway series, but I will have to admit that this new one is a favorite amongst favorites. It checked all the boxes for me. Thank you Elly Griffiths for once again providing such great writing for all to read.
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Reading Progress

February 13, 2016 – Started Reading
February 16, 2016 – Shelved
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: archaeology
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: crime-thriller
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: england
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: favorite-authors
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: favorite-covers
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: favorites
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: great-titles
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: highly-recommend
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: mystery
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: religions
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: series
February 16, 2016 – Shelved as: setting-as-a-character
February 16, 2016 – Finished Reading

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