Review: The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

The Woman in Blue by Elly GriffithsThe Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

Series: Ruth Galloway #8

Genre: Mystery

Setting: Norfolk, England

Source: Audiobook, purchased (9 hours, 44 minutes)

Narrator: Jane McDowell

Publishing Date: 2016

358 pages

Synopsis: Known as England’s Nazareth, the medieval town of Little Walsingham is famous for religious apparitions. So when Ruth Galloway’s druid friend Cathbad sees a woman in a white dress and a dark blue cloak standing alone in the local cemetery one night, he takes her as a vision of the Virgin Mary. But then a woman wrapped in blue cloth is found dead the next day, and Ruth’s old friend Hilary, an Anglican priest, receives a series of hateful, threatening letters. Could these crimes be connected? When one of Hilary’s fellow female priests is murdered just before Little Walsingham’s annual Good Friday Passion Play, Ruth, Cathbad, and DCI Harry Nelson must team up to find the killer before he strikes again. 

My thoughts

One of my favorite mystery series. Ruth Galloway is such a good character in these books. She’s a forensic archaeologist, a college professor, a single mom and helps the police on occasion. It sounds like she would be obnoxiously organized and efficient. However, she’s like most of us–she feels constantly busy with never enough time! She does love her life though–being a mom and teaching with occasional archaeology digging and police consultations. The book takes place in Little Walsingham in the county of Norfolk in England. It is known as a village with many shrines to the Virgin Mary and that features strongly in this mystery.

I listened to the audio version of this book and like the narrator a lot. She did a good job with the different voices and was easy to hear and understand. Made the story even more interesting.

Throughout these books one of the best things are all the friends Ruth has. In this book Cathbad, a long-time friend of Ruth’s, appears in the beginning of the book since he’s in Walsingham taking care of a cat and house sitting for a friend. When the cat escapes from the house Cathbad rushes in pursuit and sees a woman in blue in the graveyard near the house. He wonders if he has seen a vision of the Virgin Mary, but the woman later is found strangled.

It’s great to see DCI Harry Nelson and Sergeant Clough again. There are many pieces to the mystery. Ruth gets involved when a friend from her university days comes to Walsingham for a conference and gets in touch with Ruth. Hilary says she has a problem and wants to talk about it with Ruth. Hilary has received a number of threatening letters from someone who doesn’t like the fact she’s a woman priest. A good mystery which kept me guessing. And if you haven’t read the books before this be sure to read the earlier books first as each builds on the one before

My Rating: A-

Narrator Rating: B+

Have you read any books by this author?

Reading Challenges

Cloak and Dagger Reading Challenge hosted by Stormi @ Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!

Review: A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

a-room-full-of-bones-by-elly-griffithsA Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths

Ruth Galloway #4

E-book, purchased


Set in Norfolk, England, A Room Full of Bones embroils, once again, our brainy heroine in a crime tinged by occult forces. On Halloween night, the Smith Museum in King’s Lynn is preparing for an unusual event — the opening of a coffin containing the bones of a medieval bishop. But when forensic archaelogist Ruth Galloway arrives to supervise, she finds the curator, Neil Topham, dead beside the coffin. Topham’s death seems to be related to other uncanny incidents, including the arcane and suspect methods of a group called the Elginists, which aims to repatriate the museum’s extensive collection of Aborigine skulls; the untimely demise of the museum’s owner, Lord Smith; and the sudden illness of DCI Harry Nelson, who Ruth’s friend Cathbad believes is lost in The Dreaming — a hallucinogenic state central to some Indigenous Australian beliefs. Tensions build as Nelson’s life hangs in the balance. Something must be done to set matters right and lift Nelson out of the clutches of death, but will Ruth be able to muster herself out of a state of guilt and foreboding in order to do what she does best?


Since I read the first book in the series in October 2016 this series has become one of my favorites! Ruth Galloway is such an interesting character–both as a person and as a forensic archaeologist. I recommend you read the books in order. I think you’ll enjoy them a lot more and they are all so good!

Recurring characters in the books

Cathbad–a Druid, but also a scientist who works in the Chemistry Department at the university. He seems to have some uncanny abilities–especially when Ruth, Kate or Nelson are in trouble.

DCI Harry Nelson–He’s a no-nonsense copper and doesn’t believe in “hocus-pocus.” However, he’s a friend of Cathbad, much to his own amazement. He’s a good policeman–conscientious and honest. He pushes his team hard, but pushes himself just as hard. Nelson comes from Blackpool–“…[he] still thinks of himself as a Northerner, which, in his mind, is synonymous with sharp wits and a proper sense of humour.”

Michelle Nelson–Nelson’s wife. She’s beautiful and Nelson still is in awe that she married him. Michelle owns a beauty shop and they have two college-age daughters.

Shona–Ruth’s best friend. Shona is living with Ruth’s married boss and is now five month’s pregnant. Shona is an English professor. Sometimes Shona isn’t that reliable a friend, but Ruth doesn’t have too many friends.

Ruth–Forensic archaeologist and university professor. Ruth is called by the police occasionally to consult with them when bones are found to help determine if the bones are recent or hundreds or thousands of years old. That is how she met DCI Nelson in the first book.

Kate–Ruth’s one year old daughter. Ruth is raising her alone and has little experience with babies, but she and Kate are muddling along. Ruth is doing the best she can for Kate even though she has “the working mom’s guilt” and is often tired and uncertain. Kate is developing her own personality and it’s a strong one. When Shona suggests Ruth have a birthday party for Kate’s first birthday….

“Kate doesn’t play with her friends,” Ruth had protested. “She hits them over the head with stickle bricks mostly.” But she had allowed herself to be convinced. And part of her does think that it will be a lovely occasion, a rare chance for her to sit back and watch Kate tearing off wrapping paper and shoving E-numbers in her mouth and think: I haven’t done such a bad job of being a mother, after all.

My thoughts

Ruth is called to consult about the bones in a coffin in a museum, but when she finds the museum curator dead beside the coffin Harry Nelson is called in.

I like the intelligence Ruth shows and the love she has for her profession. Now that she is a mother she is often pulled several ways–in her professional life as a teacher and an expert and her life as a mother. The birth of Kate has made Ruth’s life much more complicated, but it also enriched her life and she’s so happy she made the decision to keep Kate. I also like her friendships with various characters in these books–especially Cathbad and DCI Nelson.

The mystery

The museum also has Australian Aborigine bones and a group calling themselves the Elginists is demanding the bones return to Australia for burial. Ruth is appalled when she views the room full of bones in the museum. The bones are jumbled together in a small room in the museum basement. They were collected by the present museum owner’s great-grandfather–apparently dug up in Australia from graves. Ruth believes in treating human bones respectfully. But the great-grandson is rather proud of his great-grandfather and has no intention of returning the bones.

Are the deaths of the curator and the owner of the museum plus DCI Nelson’s mysterious illness related to the bones and a curse? Or is it a curse related to the coffin of the medieval bishop? And is there something paranormal going on, too? What is The Dreaming?

Rating: B+