The Locked Room is the fourteenth of the Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series. Since I’ve read all the predecessors, in order, there doesn’t really seem much point in my reviewing it to tell you it’s brilliant and just as good as all the rest.
Oh, you think there is? Well then…
The Locked Room (Ruth Galloway #14)
by Elly Griffiths
The fourteenth novel in the acclaimed and bestselling Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries. Ruth and Nelson are on the hunt for a murderer when Covid-19 rears its ugly head. But can they find the killer despite lockdown?
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, 1969.
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 Sally, 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.(goodreads)
One of the best things about the Locked Room is the way it takes you back to the start of Covid restrictions. Even if you didn’t experience the English approach (Wales, Scotland and N Ireland differed in certain details in their control regimes), you will recognise the constraints and the reactions. It’s strange how looking back two years is somehow already a historical event, even though people are still going down with Covid. Elly has revealed (end April) she has it, and several of my friends have it, too.
In the Locked Room, Nelson of course, is taking the ‘overreaction by politicians’ line. He’s funny, but nothing stops him doing his job. And his feelings about Ruth are as mixed up as ever.
I take issue with the blurb, though, for indicating he remembers the neighbour as Dawn Lancaster. As I recall it, that is not revealed till a long way through the book. I was going to say that Ruth’s finding of the picture of her house tipped me off immediately as to part of the puzzle, simply because of the age of her mother. But maybe I saw it at once because subconsciously I remembered the blurb. I don’t know now. And it really doesn’t matter, not much.
Once again Elly Griffiths has brought together an intricate web of homely truths, lost legends, and societal shamefulness to give another exciting mystery. The twists near the end were in turn anticipated, then shocking. Nothing like revealing something you kind of expected, then turning everything on its head. And the mystery may be complete, but the Ruth-Nelson tangle continues…
Another fine novel from Elly Griffiths, and one of the best Ruth Galloway books.