đź“–The Locked Room (Ruth Galloway Book 14) by 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? 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 rears its ugly head. Ruth and her daughter are locked down in their cottage, attempting to continue with work and home-schooling. Happily, the house next door is rented by a nice woman called Zoe, who they become friendly with while standing on their doorsteps clapping for carers.

Nelson, meanwhile, is investigating a series of deaths of women that may or may not be suicide. When he links the deaths to an archaeological discovery, he breaks curfew to visit the cottage where he finds Ruth chatting to her neighbour whom he remembers as a carer who was once tried for murdering her employer.

Only then her name wasn’t Zoe. It was dawn.

I originally started to read this when I was off recovering from my hand surgery. But I clearly got distracted by other things. Honestly, March and April went by in a bit of a blur and though I have managed to read more in May, it has honestly been a pretty chaotic month!

I picked this up to read again on a day when it was raining outside, the flat was gloomy, I was dog sitting Ollie – my sisters dog – and waiting for a buyer to pick up the day bed I sold. With Ollie in the flat, my original plan of designing more cards and marketing my father’s day cards for my small business were put to one side as Ollie can find trouble even when there is nothing around!

I’ve been camped out in my bedroom. Ollie has been sleeping soundly surrounded by his blankets and reading seemed like a relaxing activity.

The Locked Room is the 14th book in the Ruth Galloway series and is actually one of the longest series of books I’ve read. There is something warm and inviting about the book series now that makes me feel like I’m coming home to something cosy and familiar. This particular book is set just at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the UK first went into lockdown, so there is almost a separate plot line of the characters dealing with how that has changed things.

I have, in the past, expressed annoyances to where Ruth and Nelson’s relationship is going. I got tired with the ‘will they, won’t they’ writing and decided it would be better if they either got together or moved on. I was rekindled to the idea that something positive would come of their relationship in book 12 and while things had stagnated again, this book picks back up with what may come of their relationship.

There are still many lines out at sea and no fish are biting yet, but I holdout hope that something definitive will happen – or not happen – between the two characters.

The plot was not as intense as some of the others in the series, part because of the COVID-19 storyline. The team investigate a series of suicides that seem hinky. Ruth is indirectly involved but still manages to throw herself into the thick of it by the time the climactic scenes roll around.

The biggest change in this book was Cathbad.

Spoilers Ahead!

I generally thought Griffiths was intending to kill him off at one point! It was almost a ‘throw book against wall’ moment. Cathbad has been such a stalwart character throughout the series that it was almost painful to read through the changes to his character and realise that he may not reach the end of the book. It was artfully written by Griffiths and the only part of the book that almost had me weeping.

As for the killer’s reveal – I was a little puzzled. There wasn’t much of an explanation into why the killer had done what they’d one and I didn’t particularly feel like there was much cause for it either. There were a lot of different references during the plot, the Grey Lady, Tombland, English Poets, spirits and mysteries. But unlike a lot of other books in the series, none of these references played any specific need in regards to the evolving plot and the end reveal.

I think that with this book Griffiths spend more time with the characters, how those characters would cope with COVID-19 and how they would evolve and grow and less time on the plot itself. At least that’s what it felt like to me.

The book is still great and it was really only the ending that I found lacking. I await book 15 with anticipation.

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