The Locked Room

Elly Griffiths
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.

A new Ruth Galloway series book from Elly Griffiths is always a big event. The Locked Room is typical Ruth, even though the story is set in Covid times. The backdrop of covid adds an extra layer to the mix. Does it work? Well yes and no, but then it doesn't detract from the storyline, only adds heartache to the melting pot.

The plot is as taut as ever. The discovery of a burial at the beginning sets into motion a series of events that at the beginning I hadn't contemplated. As the book progresses, you find yourself wanting to find out more, yet covid gets in the way. I guess, as in real life, it interferes with life. At times you want the covid bits to go away and they get down to the crime. Yet that's exactly the way covid interrupted our lives in 2020.

At the heart of the story is Cathbad, surely the character who most of us would like to be like. The twists and turns were unpredictable at times, yet this book perfectly captures the madness that was covid. The references to plague and covid was well done. The heartache and helplessness that I felt reading it at times was real. It brought back images of that first lockdown, uncomfortably.

I'd give this book 5 stars as the story was both a joy and an irritant to read. It was brave for Elly Griffiths to include covid in the heart of the story. She manages to pull it off. If you're a Ruth and Nelson fan, this is one you won't want to miss.

Review by Brompton Sawdon
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Brompton Sawdon - Author

Brompton loves books and is always willing to give a viewpoint on books that have been exciting or disappointing.

From the top of a tower, somewhere in the Pennine Hills, Brompton views the world though world weary eyes. Occasionally ranting or raving over something that may seem irrelevant to you but matters to Brompton.

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