The Woman in Blue

Ruth Galloway, 8th book in series | Written by Elly Griffiths

AMATEUR SLEUTH. Anthropologist Ruth Galloway shares the spotlight with the other recurring characters in the eighth book in the series, most particularly D. I. (Detective Inspector) Nelson her sometime lover and her good friend Cathbad the Druid.

Cathbad is cat sitting in the village of Walsingham, staying in a 15t century cottage nestled beside an historic cemetery. Walsingham holds several well known shrines to the Virgin Mary, important destination for pilgrimages, so when Cathbad looks out the window and sees a beautiful blonde woman wearing a blue cloak standing in the cemetary, he wonders if he has been honored with a vision of the Virgin. Before he can speak to her she disappears. The next day a woman’s body is discovered in a ditch, murdered. D.I. Nelson is called to investigate and Cathbad, dressed in his druid robe, sets out to see what’s going on. D. I Nelson is told “there’s a bit of a nutter here to see you.”

“Cathbad what are you doing here?”
“I’m house sitting in Walsingham.”
“What about Judy? Have you left her alone with a newborn baby?”
“Miranda’s ten weeks old and she’s an old soul. No Judy’s taken the children and gone to visit her parents.”
“That doesn’t explain why you’re here, at a crime scene.”
“The woman you’ve found,” says Cathbad. “Was she wearing a blue cloak?”
Nelson takes a step back.
“Who says we found a woman?”
He half expects Cathbad to say something about spiritual energies and cosmic vibrations but instead he says, “I heard the milkman talking about it. Useful people milkmen. They’re up and about early. They notice things.”
“And what did you mean about a cloak? I’m sure the bloody milkman didn’t see that.”
Cathbad exhales. “So it is her.”

While D. I. Nelson searches for a murderer Ruth receives an email. Hillary, a school friend she hasn’t seen in years, is coming to Walsingham for a conference and hopes Ruth will be free to help her solve a problem. When Ruth meets up with her friend she discovers that sometime while they were out of touch Hillary has become a priest (C of E). The stack of anonymous letters she hands to Ruth are filled with vitriol against women priests. Ruth encourages Hillary to turn them over to D. I Nelson. Does the misogynistic letter writer have anything to do with the murdered woman? Or are two woman haters abroad in Walsingham?

I’m a vocal fan of Elly Griffiths and her cast of characters, but I felt reading this one was a little like visiting with an old friend who is jet lagged. Even though the energy is off, you settle into the comfort of a familiar relationship, pleased to get caught up. Other fans won’t want to miss it– readers new to Ruth, probably should start earlier in the series.

The Woman in Blue
Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin/Harcourt
May 3, 2016
368 pages

A complete list of books in the series can be found in Magpie Recommends page.