Sunday, January 1, 2017

THE WOMAN IN BLUE by Elly Griffiths

I found Elly Griffiths’ The Woman in Blue flawed and chilling.

It was flawed because the plot was too complicated for me. But it was chilling because it contained the kind of religious fanaticism which causes me to see fundamentalist religion as dangerous.

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson and his team investigate the murder of a mysterious woman in a white gown and blue cloak. Late at night, Cathbad, Ruth Galloway’s druid friend, had seen the woman visiting an eerie white gravestone in the cemetery of St. Simeon’s Church.

According to the legend, the Virgin Mary visits the cemetery. At first, Cathbad wonders if he has seen the Virgin.

At the same time, Ruth’s friend Hillary Smithson asks Ruth to look at some threatening letters. Hillary left her PhD position in anthropology to become a priest in the Church of England.

To quote one letter: “. . . I will never accept your right to call yourself a priest. ‘Man and Woman Created He Them’ (Genesis 1:27). Men and women are different, Doctor Smithson. Not better or worse. Different. I am not a misogynist, as you women academics would have me. I simply believe that men and women have different tasks in the world. Women have the privilege of bearing children. Men are the appointed protectors of the family. And Jesus appointed men to be the protectors of his church.”

Further letters threaten Hillary’s life. Is there a connection between the murder of the woman in blue and the threatening letters to Hillary? 

Then, someone murders a woman priest.

Suspects abound. The story involves The Sanctuary, a “private hospital specialising in drug rehabilitation.” It takes us back into the personal histories of several of the characters. The assailant attacks beautiful blond women.

The book climaxes during the annual Good Friday passion play in the small village of Walsingham.

The relationship between Ruth, Harry, and Harry’s wife Michelle becomes even more complicated.

So there’s a lot of story here.

As always, I see much to recommend this and all the Ruth Galloway books.

The Woman in Blue takes place in the small village of Walsingham about which Elly Griffiths writes in her Acknowledgements, “. . . I have made the real Walsingham into my own fictional version of the place. . . .”

I checked out this book as a Kindle book from our local library.

1 comment:

Joe Barone said...

Writing is such a tricky business. Originally I had written the sentence, "The book climaxes during the annual Good Friday passion play in the small village of Walsingham" using the title of the book. When I read that in the final published blog, I decided I should change it.