Friday, March 18, 2016

The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

First Sentence:  Cathbad and the cat look at each other. 
Cathbad is cat sitting for a friend in Walsingham, an old English village with strong connections to both English Catholic and Anglican history and traditions.  It is also the home of a rehabilitation center called “Sanctuary,” when he sees a ghost-like figure standing in the yard.  The next day, the body of a woman is found by the side of the road, and an Anglican priest friend of Ruth's is receiving threatening letters.  Is there a connection?
For those of us who love unusual characters, one can do no better than Cathbad. Add what may, or not, be a ghost, and one is off to a very good start.
This is a lovely change from the previous books in the series.  Although all of the characters are there, and well introduced for those new to the series, the preponderance of the story is truly a police procedural focusing DCI Harry Nelson and his team, and on the investigation and solving the case, or is it cases.   Fear not, Ruth is still there, although playing a more secondary, but still important, role.  Griffiths’ characters are very real.  They all have the normal human traits of insecurity, moods, weaknesses, foibles and failings.  Learning about them is what makes them particularly interesting.
The inclusion of historical information, both secular and religious, is not only fascinating but adds depth and a strong sense of place to the story.  One learns fascinating information regarding relics and cults within the Church. 
Griffiths has such a good story-teller's voice, including excellent dialogue with just the right touch of wry humor—“He gestures at the perfectly tidy room, which has a wheelie suitcase in the centre of it.” ... Nelson despises wheelie suitcases.”—and evocative descriptions—“Ruth hadn’t really been expecting much from the snowdrops but…she actually catches her breath in wonder.  Nothing much is left of the priory at Walsingham, just the arch and a few free-standing walls.  But stretched out between them is a carpet of which, as if the church has risen again in all its finery.  Trees rise up like organ pipes and, far above them, a skylark is singing.”
The Woman in Blue” includes a mystery which keeps going to the end; lots of good, possible suspects to tease the reader, a wonderful building of suspense, and a very solid ending. 

THE WOMAN IN BLUE (Pol Proc-DCI Harry Nelson/Ruth Galloway - England-Contemp) – VGGriffiths, Elly – 8th in series
Minotaur, 2016 

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