The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths was published in 2022 and as the book begins the Coronavirus is just beginning to hit the UK. To begin with Ruth has been given the unenviable job of clearing her mother’s personal possessions from what had been the family home in London. Ruth’s father has re-married and his wife of a few years now wants to do some re-decorating, obviously she’s not going to do that around her predecessor’s old clothes. A box of old photographs has thrown up a puzzle for Ruth. Why would her mother have an old photograph of the outside of Ruth’s home, taken in the 1960s? Her mother had never liked Ruth living there, she thought it too remote, but it’s obvious that the cottage had featured in Ruth’s mother’s past somehow, and she had kept it secret.
Back in her beloved Norfolk Ruth soon becomes involved with the excavation of a skeleton, possibly a plague victim. Her students are always keen on that subject, but along comes the first lockdown and most of the students go home to struggle with Zoom lectures.
As Ruth and her daughter Kate begin to feel lonely in their remote cottage they’re cheered up by the arrival of a new neighbour next door, although that does make the frequent visits from Nelson slightly fraught as he is really breaking the lockdown. He’s investigating some apparent suicides, but possible murders, and he’s taking advantage of the fact that his wife is away to spend more time with Ruth.
Despite the fact that two years into the pandemic with the stats being higher than ever in Scotland, I could really have been doing with NOT reading about the pandemic, but I still enjoyed this one.