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Summary

The murder of women priests in the shrine town of Walsingham sucks Dr. Ruth Galloway into an unholy investigation.

Ruth's friend, Cathbad, is housesitting in Walsingham, a Norfolk village famous as a centre for pilgrimages to the Virgin Mary. One night, Cathbad sees a strange vision in the graveyard beside the cottage: a young woman dressed in blue. Cathbad thinks that he may have seen the Madonna herself, but the next morning the woman's body, dressed in a white nightdress and blue dressing gown, is found in a ditch outside Walsingham.

DCI Nelson and his team are called in and establish that the dead woman was a recovering addict being treated at a nearby private hospital. Ruth, a devout atheist, has managed to avoid Walsingham during her 17 years in Norfolk. But then an old university friend, Hilary Smithson, asks to meet her in the village, and Ruth is amazed to discover that her friend is now a priest.

Hilary has been receiving vitriolic anonymous letters targeting women priests - letters containing references to local archaeology and a striking phrase about a woman 'clad in blue, weeping for the world'. Then another woman is murdered - a priest. As Walsingham prepares for its annual Easter reenactment of the Crucifixion, the race is on to unmask the killer before he strikes again....

©2016 Elly Griffiths (P)2016 Quercus Publishing Plc

What listeners say about The Woman in Blue

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A subtle change of direction for Ruth?

Interesting. I've just finished this and found it quite surprising on more than one level. Norfolk is a lovely, historical county but in all honesty how many archeological murder mysteries can it really provide, and how could Elly Griffiths sustain the theme?

The answer seems to be by subtly changing direction. This, the 8th book, is far less archaeology - hardly any at all. It's also far less about Ruth (though she's still integral), and puts the police team of Nelson, Dave Clough, Tim and Tania into the centre. Even Cathbad has only a minor role and there's more Michelle, less Judy. Relationships move on, but no spoilers.

No spoilers on the plot either, but feels a more mainstream detective story than normal. There is still the myth, legend and mystery aspects, but it's more straightforward murder than the previous seven, if that doesn't sound too callous. It still has the red herrings we can count on from Ms Griffiths. It's a strongly religion based theme, with quite topical aspects around the ordination of women. Overall, far less edge of the seat scary stuff, more Morse. No big yellow rubber duck though!

That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it - I did. I've already googled Walsingham for weekend breaks! In a month or so I'll listen again to see if I should have spotted the perpetrator earlier.

The Arthurian book, The Dying Fall, is still my personal favourite, but this is a good book, worth listening to, and hopefully by that subtle change of emphasis the series can continue and not get stale. Looking forward to seeing if other reviewers agree...

24 people found this helpful

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Another engaging myster

Would you consider the audio edition of The Woman in Blue to be better than the print version?

Not having read the print version, I have no idea; but this series has transferred well to audio format. There is a good balance of dialogue and narrative so that it keeps moving on well.

What did you like best about this story?

I am particularly enjoying the ongoing development of the backstory, as the main characters (Ruth, Nelson. Clough and the rest) continue through their lives. The author has also chosen another interesting sidelight as the setting for her mystery, in the Walshingham Shrine. As other reviewers have mentioned, Ruth has far less to do 'professionally' in this book (there is little archaeology can add to the investigation) but to be honest I felt the author's aracheological knowledge was beginning to become a bit repetitive as the series went on, so it may be wise of her to broaden out if she wishes to continue to develop these characters.

Which character – as performed by Jane McDowell – was your favourite?

I very much enjoy the depiction of Ruth; she is an honest character: not beautiful, not always right, but intelligent, thoughtful , kind and believable, and I always want to know how life develops for her.

9 people found this helpful

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Best in series

Any additional comments?

I enjoyed this book more than others I have read in the series, there is less soul searching about Ruth's weight and whether she is a bad mother and more of a murder mystery. A good number of red herrings and enough pace to keep you listening. A rather muddled intermixing of Catholic and Church of England practices but I'm sure that won't bother most listerners. There is more of the will they/won't they story of Ruth and Nelson which works quite well. Ruth was more likeable because she was more assertive and less wet than usual. The performance was good, with believeable accents.

15 people found this helpful

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Missed the archaeology

Another good story and more interesting developments in the ever changing Ruth and Nelson relationship. I did miss the archaeological elements however. I know it's difficult to continuously find a connection between Ruth's archaeological work and active police investigations, but Ruth felt a little sidelined in this story. The religious elements were interesting but lacked the usual depth of the historical plotlines.
The narrator was fine and it was good to return to the original voice for Ruth, but I was really irritated by the decision to add sound effects for people speaking on the phone. The volume was considerably lower and sometimes hard to hear, particularly when driving in the car. A good narrator should be able to convey that someone is talking on the phone without resorting to dodgy sound effects.
All in all though an enjoyable listen and I look forward to the next installment.

12 people found this helpful

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more bible than crime story

too much time spent on religion & too little on the actual crimes themselves. narrator felt quite monotonous. my least enjoyable audible purchase to date. Boring really.

10 people found this helpful

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Reader very offputting

I quite like these Ruth Galloway mysteries, but was put off by the reader noisily swallowing at frequent intervals. One of the disadvantages of high quality sound I suppose!

3 people found this helpful

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Bring back Clare Corbett

The graphic for the download is misleading. Jane McDowell does a good job but is not Clare Corbett. A new voice is a little disconcerting when following a series.

16 people found this helpful

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A 'gentle' murder mystery. Midsomer Murders style.

Neat and tidy whodunnit (bit convenient in parts but hey). Amusing and likeable characters. Interesting archeological and biblical references. Well researched. A bit pedestrian but very agreeable nevertheless.

2 people found this helpful

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Very good listen

Thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. Very easy to listen to whilst doing other things.

2 people found this helpful

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Best yet

I've read all of the Ruth Galloway books and this is definitely my favourite so far.The main story is interesting and truly gripping in places with beautiful descriptions of the Norfolk countryside. It's the ongoing side stories that are the most intriguing, particularly the interaction between Ruth and Nelson.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Frances
  • 15-06-16

Meh...

My least favorite of the series, this book was slow to start and the denouement felt contrived: this will not prevent me from looking forward to the next one, however, as this is usually a five star series. I am so happy to see the return of narrator Jane McDowell. Clare Corbett is a fine reader but she gives a truly cringeworthy voice to Cathbad. If you haven't read the series, do start at the beginning with The Crossing Places.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-07-16

Great atmosphere of ecclesiastical odd stuff

I most enjoyed in this book all the Catholic and Anglican atmosphere and information about the pilgrimage town. One scene of Ruth's research into the Madonna Lactans had me hooting with laughter. That churchy theme was so well done it made up for a pretty unconvincing motive for the murderer and an excess of titillation, I felt, around the progress, or otherwise, of Ruth and Nelson's relationship. I enjoyed the narration.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Dorothy
  • 17-07-16

I prefer Ruth as an archaeologist .

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I have enjoyed all of the Elly Griffiths Ruth Galloway books. The plot in this book was a bit thin and the story line was not as compelling as I wished. The conflict of women as clergy is a bit dated . Also - we don't see any evolution or resolution of Ruth's relationship with Nelson.
The narrator is good - but the change in narration for telephone conversations was strange.On the whole, I did not enjoy this book as much as prior books in the series.

What about Jane McDowell’s performance did you like?

Everything except the telephone conversations.

4 people found this helpful

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  • CATHERINE
  • 13-06-16

Not the best in the series but still enjoyable

This book is best listened to by those who have followed Ruth from the beginning. I also missed Claire Corbett as narrator

Still, I enjoyed this book. It was like checking in on old friends

4 people found this helpful

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  • M. Labouche
  • 10-07-16

Good story, but...

This most recent installment in the Ruth Galloway series has a clever and engaging plot. Jane McDowell reads voices well, but I wish someone would offer her water; the mouth noises are hard to take. Maybe a better read than a listen?

3 people found this helpful

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  • summer
  • 16-06-16

The woman in blue is miserable.

I'm it sure what's going on with the author of this book but Rees couldn't be any more judge mental of Christians. The whole time she's so caustic and constantly offended. It's Just such a beat down. Everybody knows somebody like that that complains all the time. You're an atheist. We get it. MOVE ON! Ellys's Ruth has become a cliche. She's a snarky single overweight unhappy atheist chubby spinster who loves cats. It's a miracle I even finished the book.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Hermione
  • 27-07-22

Another great addition to the series!

Great mystery, interesting twists and turns in the lives of Ruth and her circle, and an excellent reader! Looking forward to the next one!

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  • Tupelo Honey
  • 10-07-22

Disclaimer

How on earth does MsMichelle feel wronged? She has engaged in a pre-meditated, planned LENGTHY affair. Nelson has not. He may have feelings for another woman but he has not REGULARLY acted on them as she has. He isn’t RIGHT in his actions but he isn’t as terrible as she is making him out to be. Oh, and I am female.
Also, I can ABSOLUTELY see him spending time with his kid and the ex-wife going along. Or was that in another book?
Either narrator is just fine with me. I don’t have a preference. Both Ms McDowell AND Ms Corbett do a fine job. The story is interesting enough and resolves well. Interesting and intriguing are my words for this series. I am LOVIN’ it. The naysayers and the one “snarky” review about Ruth’s personality was, to me, mean-spirited. I LIKE MsRuth. She is smart, independent, kind, a good mom and who cares how much she weighs? Nelson, Her old boyfriend, Max and Frank don’t seem to mind and her non belief in God is super interesting to me. I love a woman with a MIND OF HER OWN. Stop hatin’ 😉
People do have a choice and can talk about it as often as they want the same way those who LOVE their religion can talk about theirs constantly.
I just found this series and am on I think Book 6 (maybe 7) and I am definitely looking forward to reading the rest of them and in time I WILL reread them. Probably more than once.
I DID find the phone calls ANNOYING! What was the reasoning behind THAT!?

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  • stamura
  • 09-06-22

Hmmm

I gave the performance a 3 star because i found the way they handled the phone calls very annoying..,
Get past that and it’s interesting and narration good

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  • Melanie E. McCullough
  • 29-12-21

An Unremarkable Entry in the Series

The story itself isn’t memorable, but the narrator makes it hard to listen to. Her deep breathing and mouth sounds are maddening.