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Publisher's 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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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

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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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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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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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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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?

2 people found this helpful

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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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Another great installment in this series!

Another great installment in this series. Always enjoyable and interesting! Great, strong, relatable female character.

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another great Ally Griffiths novel!

I absolutely love these characters, they dont get old.
I'll be reading more for sure.

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Good series

After listening to all the Ann Cleeves books, I doubted I would ever find a series I liked as well but I am hooked on Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway series. The archaeology theme is invariably interesting, the characters are complex, and the plots are intricate. The added theme of religion from a somewhat academic point of view added to the complexity. Jane McDowell is a wonderful reader.

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Excellent continuation of the series

I really like Griffith's Ruth Galloway series. They are very well written with interesting, unusual characters. This one has the side light of a conference of female priests from the Anglican Church.

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  • Maggie
  • 02-11-16

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...

23 people found this helpful

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  • Kl Love
  • 03-16-16

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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  • homebeam
  • 02-28-16

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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  • Sal
  • 02-27-16

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-27-16

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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  • Lakeskip
  • 02-25-17

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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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-27-17

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!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • dan
  • 06-01-16

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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  • jennifer couzens
  • 05-20-16

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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  • koopasdaddy
  • 02-14-16

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.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Roderic
  • 02-15-16

Standard fare with no surprises

It is difficult to sustain freshness of character and plot in a book series. Unfortunately there is little in "The Woman in Blue" to lift it beyond the ordinary. The development of the main characters is steady but not scintillating but I suspect I will read the next book in the series if one is written, just to stay with the characters a bit longer. The plot has the requisite number of twists and red herrings but never truly surprises.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jeanette NORMAN
  • 02-14-16

This is a must read.

This was a compelling read. I find the story extensions fascinating and topical. Enjoy.

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • emmoff
  • 02-13-16

Not up to her usual standard

This book seemed a bit rushed to me. Definitely not up to her usual standard.

1 person found this helpful

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  • JULIE
  • 02-11-16

Doesn't disappoint!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Elly Griffiths is a great writer. Jane McDowell is a great narrator. It makes for one great audio book, which is compelling and entertaining.

What did you like best about this story?

This is the 8th book with Ruth and the gang and it's definitely on par with the rest of the series.

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

Jane McDowell does a fantastic job with voices for both men and woman. I often find that a narrator doing voices for the opposite sex can be jarring and off-putting and take me out of the story. I never feel that way with Jane.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

This book (this series) is so engaging, I find I'm annoyed when I have to stop listening and go about every day life.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Bill
  • 08-17-20

Less engaging than other books in the series

Agree with a few other reviews that this book is not quite as interesting as others in the series... rushed through it just to see character progression. Felt that Ruth's role could have been integrated a bit more creatively... Nice to hear Jane's narration agaIn.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Helen
  • 08-09-20

The Woman in Blue

After listening to the other preceding books in this series I was a bit disappointed with this one. The storyline wasn't as strong and I struggled to keep up with what was a significantly weak plot. I had to go back and listen from chapter 27 a couple of times to see if I had missed something. Also about half way through the narrator began making lots of what only can be described as swallowing noises. It may have been a bad recording. Not impressed.

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  • Aussielee
  • 09-18-19

Could be read as stand alone

For her (and my) eighth Ruth Galloway book, Griffiths sticks with a familiar formula which has served her well up to now and at this stage, I’m hardly going to say I hate it.

The mystery plot line of The Woman in Blue surrounds Nelson and Ruth needing to solve the strangulation murder of a young girl. Ruth is linked this time when an old friend contacts her after receiving a series of threatening letters. It’s assumed that the letter writer and the murderer are the same person.

There isn’t as much archaeology in this installment. Ruth doesn’t dig up any bones but she does do some research into the findings of a past dig. History plays its part still in the shape of religious persecution, customs and ceremonies.

I love the way Griffiths handled the religious aspect of the plot and how she juggled various characters’ beliefs tactfully. Some of the stupidity of religion is pointed out (as any fan of this series knows, Ruth is an atheist) but she balances it nicely with some positive aspects of those who choose to worship God (it’s pretty much just Christianity that’s covered).

There’s also a solid vein of feminism running throughout the book. Griffiths nicely highlights that women often need to be stronger than men and often they prove to be just that in The Woman in Blue.

Although there was one heart in my throat moment, there was nothing really groundbreaking about the mystery. In fact, the guilty party's motives were weak at best. Of course, I’m not still reading just for the mystery plot.

I adore Ruth and Nelson. I love the way he is always putting his foot in it where she is concerned.

With the exception of Tim, I’m also a fan of all the other supporting characters (even Phil!). I was a little disappointed by their lack of involvement this time. Particularly Judy, Cathbad and Cloughy didn’t feature quite as much as they have in the past. Ruth’s daughter, Kate, too has limited scenes compared to some of the other books in the series. (Although, Cathbad does get some hilarious sce