Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths

Title: The Janus Stone
Author: Elly Griffiths
ISBN: 9781849162364
Publisher: Quercus Publishing, 2010
Paperback, 320 pages
Genre: equal parts Amateur Sleuth and Police Procedural, #2 Ruth Galloway mystery
Rating: A-
Source: Purchased from The Book Depository.

First Line: A light breeze runs through the long grass at the top of the hill.

An old house is being torn down in Norwich to make way for a housing development. When the bones of a child are uncovered beneath a doorway, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson knows whom to call: Dr. Ruth Galloway, head of Forensic Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk.

Nelson wants answers, and he wants them fast-- the house used to be a children's home. In contacting the priest who ran the home at the time, he learns that two children did go missing forty years ago, but carbon dating proves the child's bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned. For reasons of her own, Ruth is drawn deeper and deeper into the case, but someone is attempting to put her off by trying to scare her to death.

Nothing makes a serial reader like me happier than when the second book in a series fulfills the promise made by the first. The gruff DCI Harry Nelson and the slightly awkward Ruth Galloway are very appealing main characters, but it's Ruth who really worms her way into my heart:

Ruth is dreadful at shopping. It is a female ritual that she has never mastered. Other women can disappear into a shop for half an hour and come out with piles of tasteful clothes in the right size, artfully matching accessories, and the perfect pair of shoes. Ruth can shop all day and still only have a T-shirt two sizes too small to show for it.

Plot, pacing and the Norfolk setting match Griffiths' skill in characterization, as well as her dryly humorous writing style. I also enjoy the archaeology angle, learning about pagan and Roman Britain as I turn the pages.

For any of you coming late to the Ruth Galloway party, you'll be happy to note that you don't have to start reading the series from the beginning (although it's much better if you do). The author provides enough backstory to keep you from being confused.

I've barely finished reading The Janus Stone, and I already can't wait to read the next, The House at Sea's End!


  1. But IF you choose to read both 1 and 2, I recommend that you DO read them in order ;)

    Ruth Galloway is one of my very best finds of 2010.

  2. I love this series, and agree that it is best read in order for the delightfully quirky story arc of Ruth and Harry. The character of Ruth is a true original, very fresh in a crowded genre. Kudos to the author.

  3. nothing like a mystery wrapped up in history and archeology with realistic characters...adding this one to the ever growing TBR :)

  4. I love this series! I read this one last year and totally enjoyed it. I'm very fond of Ruth and even of the gruff Harry. I'm interested in seeing where this series will go (based on the end) - and I won't say more! :-)

  5. I love Ruth too, she feels like a heroine for people like me - the anti Sex in the City women. And I don't mean anti as in against, rather anti as in "I have no experience that even remotely equates to all that shopping and caring about clothes so much".

    I have to say I like Harry almost as much though.

  6. I haven't read anything by this author but now I can't wait to. It sounds like a really good book..and you know me, if I can, I like to start from the beginning.

  7. I too have read the first two in this series and am thrilled to learn another one will be available in May. I agree with the others - these are best read in order. Excellent series, excellent author!

  8. Dorte-- I agree. Ruth Galloway is a find... of any year.

    Maxine-- I'm so glad I'm not an author. As you said, the field is so crowded I would despair of having a truly original character.

    Pep-- Yay!

    Kay-- How do you know the end??? I wanna know, too!!!

    Bernadette-- Sign me up, too-- although it should be a bit obvious with my choice of quote! LOL

    Kris-- The beginning is the best place to start! :)

    TNelson-- I am in total agreement!

  9. Cathy, I meant the end of this book and where it might take Ruth and Harry. Don't want to say too much. Book #3 is out in UK already. I have a copy (from Book Depository), but it's packed away right now for the move. I probably won't be getting to it until the fall. :-(

  10. I loved this book, too. I didn't read the first one, though. I need to rectify that soon.

    Nice review!

  11. Kay-- Duh. Now I understand what you were saying. I'd blame it on Percocet if I could, but it's more to do with moving books around and then weeding and pruning out in the sunshine! LOL

    Marie-- I do hope you get that chance soon!

  12. I really enjoyed this one as well. I warmed to Ruth in this one much more than in the first one! Great review.

  13. Swapna-- Thanks! I agree-- Ruth was much easier to warm up to in this second book.


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