Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths
Series: Ruth Galloway #14
Published by Mariner Books on June 30, 2022
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Ruth is in London clearing out her mother's belongings when she makes a surprising discovery: a photograph of her Norfolk cottage taken before Ruth lived there. Her mother always hated the cottage, so why does she have a picture of the place? As she died three years ago, Ruth can't exactly ask her, and her father denies all knowledge of the picture. The only clue is written on the back of the photo: Dawn, 1963.
Ruth returns to Norfolk determined to solve the mystery, but then Covid-19 rears its ugly head. Ruth and her daughter are locked down in their cottage, attempting to continue with work and lessons, but, in reality, becoming lonely and frustrated. Happily the house next door is rented by a nice woman called Zoe, who they become friendly with while standing on their doorstep clapping for carers.
Nelson, meanwhile, has no time to be bored. He's investigating a series of suicides that could be the work of a serial killer. It's only when he links them to an archaeological discovery that he thinks of Ruth. He breaks curfew to visit the cottage to find Ruth chatting to her neighbour, whom he remembers as Dawn Lancaster, a carer who was once tried for murdering her employer. When the deaths continue, Nelson vows to take Ruth and Kate to live with him. But they, and Dawn, have vanished.
The Ruth Galloway series is an unusual sort of police procedural with archeological and spiritual aspects. Ruth is a single woman who now has an 11 year old daughter. She’s had some success with books and even television, and is now head of her department. She is normally called in when bones are found with police cases.
Kate’s daughter is growing up and knows who her father is and her half siblings. The situation is odd and none of them discuss it. But Nelson and Ruth still spend time together, mostly discreetly since she lives in a remote area. Every time it seems Nelson will make any changes, things are easier to leave status quo. Ruth doesn’t expect him to leave his wife and that is sad but realistic. I’m surprised Kate and Ruth are so comfortable with it.
The Locked Room is set in the beginning of Covid and the restrictions of it. People are more isolated and it is hard to question them or do the usual police interviews. There are what is considered suicides of several late middle-aged woman. The team isn’t sure they are suicides and try to find connections as the deaths seem similar.
Ruth is clearing up her mum’s things as her father is remarried and they plan to do some redecorating. She finds an old photo of her cottage from before she was born. She also has a new neighbor, who is a nurse and they become friendly. Ruth has some students who are on campus because of the lockdown and have no where else to go but then they disappear. Then her neighbor goes missing. The team is searching for them. Judy is working the investigations even with Cathbad in the hospital with COVID.
Everything comes to a head, when Judy figures it out, as Tanya and Ruth are finding the missing. The cases are solved but the book ends with a small cliffhanger.
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