Elly Griffiths’ ‘The Woman in Blue’ Is Profoundly Entertaining [REVIEW]

The Church of St. Peter in Walsingham

Medieval Walsingham is the perfect backdrop for an ominous story filled with murder, mayhem and thinly-veiled threats. (Photo by Spencer Means, Flickr)

Elly Griffith’s latest Dr. Ruth Galloway novel, The Woman in Blue, unfolds like a deadly, mysterious flower in the medieval village of Walsingham. With haunting, elegant prose, readers are lured into a story populated by quirky characters, an intriguing landscape, and an impossible whodunit that will keep them guessing. 

Ruth’s friend Cathbad, an eccentric Druid, is house sitting when he sees an apparition of the Virgin Mary in the cemetery outside. The following morning, he is disappointed when he learns that the woman cloaked in blue wasn’t a supernatural vision at all, but a model turned murder victim who had been a guest at the local spa.

Elly Griffiths' THE WOMAN IN BLUE

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Meanwhile, one of Ruth’s old classmates, an Anglican priest named Hilary, has received threatening letters and she implores Ruth for help. Then one of Hilary’s colleagues, another woman priest, is brutally murdered. All the while, the village is filled with clergywomen who could potentially be the next victim.

Soon, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson (and father to Ruth’s daughter) and his team are on the case. Are the murders and the letters related? Is someone at the spa the killer or does the trail of evidence lead back to the church? And why do both victims look eerily like Nelson’s wife, Michelle?

Packed with deftly drawn places, aberrant characters and a plethora of red herrings, the novel is fresh and compelling, and kept me turning pages late into the night. It reads like a cross between Broadchurch and Murder, She Wrote and is thoroughly entertaining.

Yet the material is also profoundly thought provoking. This nuanced story delves into deep philosophical and theological topics, such as a woman’s place in religion and what impact emotional infidelity has on a relationship. This book will challenge and enlighten you, but is written so that it doesn’t overwhelm you either. It is first and foremost a novel, and it will engage you on every level.

For readers who may be hesitant to pick up this book because it is the eighth volume in the series, do not fret. This is the first time I’ve read one of Griffiths’ books, but it is easy to keep up with the players and follow along with the action. However, you will likely want to go back and read the rest of the series after finishing your time with Ruth, DCI Nelson and the rest of the gang. They’re simply too delicious a cast to resist visiting again!

If you enjoy stories by Mary Higgins Clark, Phyllis A. Whitney and Agatha Christie, Elly Griffiths will enchant you. And with The Woman in Blue, she will make you fall in love the genre all over again. Enjoy!

By Elly Griffiths
368 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $25.


Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths
(Photo by Sara Reeve)


Elly Griffiths is the pen name for Domenica de Rosa, author of the Ruth Galloway and Magic Men mystery series. A recipient of the Mary Higgins Clark Award, her work has been praised as “gripping” (Louise Penny), “highly atmospheric” (New York Times Book Review), and “captivating” (Wall Street Journal).

Born in London in 1963, she grew up in Brighton where she wrote her first murder mystery at age 11. She studied English at King’s College London, then worked at a library, a magazine and eventually at HarperCollins as a publicity assistant and editorial director for children’s books. In 1998 she wrote her first published novel, The Italian Quarter, while on maternity leave. Three other books followed, also set in Italy.

While on holiday in Norfolk, her archaeologist husband told her how prehistoric man believed the marshland was sacred, an in-between place that led to the afterlife, and that’s when the idea for her first Ruth Galloway mystery, The Crossing Places, was born. The Woman in Blue is her eighth novel in the series.

Visit Elly Griffiths at her home on the Web, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Pre-order her forthcoming novel and the second book in her new Magic Men series, Smoke and Mirrors, out from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in September.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

One Response to Elly Griffiths’ ‘The Woman in Blue’ Is Profoundly Entertaining [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: Where Did Summer Go? | Jathan Fink

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