Monday, January 30, 2017

Review: The Woman in Blue by Elly Griffiths

The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway, Book #8)
by Elly Griffiths
Release Date: May 3rd 2016
2016 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Ebook Edition; 358 Pages
ISBN: 978-0544417854
Genre: Fiction / Mystery
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

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
The Woman in Blue is the eighth entry in the Ruth Galloway series, and probably my least favourite. I was really looking forward to this book as this author is a favourite of mine, along with Billingham, and I couldn't wait to continue the adventures of Ruth, Harry, and Cathbad.  Unfortunately, there were some things that really set me on edge in this one, and I couldn't seem to get past them and just enjoy the story.

As always though, I liked the setting.  Set in an old medieval town, I liked the descriptions of the buildings and the surroundings; and since Little Walsingham is famous for its religious apparitions, it seemed like it had the perfect ambiance for a good little murder/mystery, with all of the political and religious wrangling that would entail.  What I didn't count on was the close-mindedness of both Harry's and Ruth's characters to the religious fanaticism and beliefs of others, and how annoying and irritating it was in this book.  To be honest, at times, Ruth's tone was pretty condescending, and it got old, fast.  I was almost ready to go back and listen to her whine about her weight again rather than listen to her put down those who believe.  And considering the mystery was about threats against female clergy and a murder that was connected to those threats, the anti-religion attitude got really annoying, and I would have just rather read about the investigation.  It's not that I'm against Ruth and Harry's beliefs, and the author has been very open in previous novels about them, but that's as far as it went, while in this novel the tone changed quite a bit, almost with a condemning voice.  Maybe I was just being more sensitive than usual, but I tend to think that if you're investigating a crime, you should always keep an open mind about someone else's beliefs.

The plot itself never really got off the ground the way the other books did, and I never got invested into the story.  Although there were a lot of twists and turns, it wasn't too difficult to pick out the murderer.  I wonder if the author got too caught up in trying to portray the religious fanaticism of some of the characters in this book while trying to ensure the reader that her main characters were not like them that the actual plot kind of got away from her.  That and trying to ensure that Cathbad retains his ever-present open mind, which I much preferred.  

The Woman in Blue is one of those books that I'm sure will have mixed reactions such as I had; either people will really love it or will question Ruth's annoying behaviour.  For die-hard fans of this series, I would recommend you skip it and wait until the next one comes out as will, of course, read it, as I'm not yet ready to give up on this series.  I usually enjoy the characters tremendously, and the plot enormously, but this one just didn't interest me like the others, which is a shame as I really liked the setting.