#ATBR2022 – The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths

We’re back and it feels so good! Life had been hectic and we can finally get back to doing some reviews together

Thanks to Mariner Books for the free early copies in exchange for our honest reviews.

THE LOCKED ROOM – Elly Griffiths (Released June 28th, 2022)

Book Description:

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.

Chandra’s Thoughts: 3/5 stars

Well this took me on a journey to the beginning of our very lovely Covid-19 journey.  Lovely is sarcastic in case you don’t know me. *wink*  To be honest, I’m that kind of person who watched all the pandemic movies and looked for pandemic books when all of this started, so really I did enjoy going to back and reading of these characters going through it like we all did.  And just how weird that particular type of normal began.  Attach the hunt for a serial killer with a touch of paranormal history of Lady Grey? This mixture speaks to me.  

I had no idea this was the 14th book in a series and I prefer to start from the beginning but damn, this is a commitment! So I’m going to force myself to stay here (for now) and move forward to really learn about Ruth Galloway.  Does this need to be read in order?  It’s hard to say fully since I haven’t read the others but the author does give us backstory to help us not feel too lost along the way.

Maybe it’s because I had started this ages ago and then had to put it down because life was taking away my reading time, but I felt just a bit distant from the characters and the stories.  Had I one or two sit read this like I do with a majority of the books, maybe it would have hit differently.  It could be that this author’s writing style just isn’t for me.  And that’s ok – not all books are for all readers.  I felt the same with The Stranger Diaries that I read last year.  However, I’ll definitely pick up another by this author and see how I feel at that point.

Solid mystery, love the pandemic and paranormal undertone vibes of this one for sure.  Give it a go!

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

I will say that I’ve become bored of the stories releasing that have to do with either COVID directly or some kind of pandemic lately. I understand why there are so many within the last couple years as it’s very relevant to what’s happening in the world, but it get repetitive. That being said, I really enjoyed THE LOCKED ROOM by Elly Griffiths. Her story does take place during COVID and the initial lockdown but I think the murder mystery took center stage and I couldn’t stop flying through the chapters. I had no idea this was book fourteen in this series, so you can definitely read this as a standalone without issue!

Dr. Ruth Galloway is the head of the archaeology department at the University at Norfolk and with the new lockdown going into effect, she and her daughter, Kate, must now navigate her work as well as home schooling. Meanwhile, Kate’s father, DCI Harry Nelson, is head of a Serious Crimes Unit and is trying to investigate an apparent suicide that begins to have questionable circumstances surrounding it. When more middle-aged women are also found dead from apparent suicides he can’t help but wonder if this is just coincidence due to lockdown or if there is something more sinister at play. Then we also have a new neighbor to Ruth and Kate that isn’t quite what she seems.

I loved all the elements to this mystery. It may seem like a lot is going on but I was engaged from start to finish and I think Griffiths perfect wove them together without it getting confusing. I also appreciate how the author filled in a little bit of backstory as the book progressed for those of us that are new to the series, because let’s face it, most of the time I pick up a great sounding crime fiction or mystery novel and I’m completely oblivious to the fact that it’s part of a series (I can’t be the only one!). I highly recommend picking this up and I appreciate how well she handled the COVID pandemic in the story and that it wasn’t the sole focus. I think it’s time to keep an eye out for more of this series when I’m at the bookstore.

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