This series is character driven and those characters are what make this series so very, very good. The lead is Ruth, a forensic archaeologist in the beautiful Norfolk area of England. She's head of her department at the University and often consults with the police on cases. She, her eleven year old daughter Katie and Flint the cat live in an isolated cottage on the Saltmarsh 'where the sea and the sky meet'. (I would love to live in that wee cottage!) I really enjoy Ruth. I think it's because she isn't a 'cookie-cutter' protagonist. She is a single mother looking at her fifties. She's a bit of an introvert, highly intelligent, empathetic and tolerant. Griffiths has not endowed her with super sleuth abilities, rather she comes off as an actual person - unabashedly and happily herself. The supporting players are just as well drawn. I quite like Cathbad, the self proclaimed Druid. Griffiths gives each and every player a personal story line that moves forward with every new book. I always feel like I'm settling in with old friends when I pick up the latest. Faithful readers will agree - the yes/no/maybe so relationship between Ruth and a member of the local constabulary is a big part of that character driven narrative!
Now in addition to fab characters, Griffiths always comes up with great crimes for the Norfolk police (and Ruth) to investigate. In this latest, there's a skeleton found on a construction as well as number of women whose deaths may or may not be suicide. And Ruth comes across a mysterious photo that's too close to home. Covid has also just been added to the mix. The mysteries are well devised and not easy to suss out. There's always a satisfying ending to the books....with the door left open for the next book.
I chose to listen to The Locked Room. The reader was Jane McDowell, a narrator who has performed this series in the past. I appreciate the continuity. She has a calm, well modulated, pleasant voice that suits the character of Ruth. and matched the mental image I had created. She captures the subtle nuances of Ruth with her voice. McDowell's diction is quite clear and the speed of the reading is just right. She provides different voices for the supporting players. She has interpreted and presented Griffith's work wonderfully. I've said it before and I'll say it again - I become much more immersed in a tale when I listen. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Locked Room.
I highly, highly recommend this character driven mystery series. You could certainly read this book as a stand alone, but do yourself a favor and start with the first book, The Crossing Places.