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by Elly Griffiths
Mariner Books, June 2022
352 pages
ISBN: 0358671396

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

This fourteenth Ruth Galloway book is set in 2020 just as the Covid pandemic is beginning, which lightly contrasts with the archeological aspect of the book set during the Black Plague. Women are dying then as now but, while the modern mystery keeps the reader wondering, the book is very, very strongly character-driven as we feel the confusion of those early days of the pandemic when no one really understood what was going on. The sense of isolation, the need for connection, the fright as friends and family members became ill and were hidden behind the closed doors of hospitals...it's all there.

Ruth, archeologist and single mother of Kate, reconnects with Nelson, Kate's father and a police detective, in this book. It is their relationship which is the focus of the book. There are several linked plot lines that include Ruth's new neighbor who intriguingly has a photo of Ruth's mother, several deaths of women through suspicious suicides, one of Ruth's students who is stalking her, a kidnapped woman kept in the titular locked room, and Covid striking very close to home. In this latest, Griffiths plays fair as she always does, bringing the plots together in ways that are twisty enough to be interesting but not out of the blue.

This book would work for those who haven't been following the series as a reminder of what it felt like as we first encountered Covid, but it will be a much richer experience for those who have already developed a relationship with Ruth and Nelson. The writing about the Medieval architecture in Norfolk is very atmospheric, and a treat in and of itself. The mystery is fully resolved in this book, making it a possibility for a standalone. But having read the final sentences of THE LOCKED ROOM, I am anxiously awaiting #15 in the series.

Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in Arizona.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, July 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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