Friday, September 3, 2010

a review of "The Janus Stone" [67]

The Janus Stone: A Case for Investigator Ruth Galloway, Forensic ArchaeologistThe Janus Stone By Elly Griffiths
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, ISBN 978-0547237442
January 21, 2011, 336 pages

Some months ago I reviewed a book that I really enjoyed, The Crossing Places. It was the first mystery book by author Domenica de Rosa, writing under the name Elly Griffiths, and an excellent first step for her into the genre it was. I was certainly delighted to see that she had written a second book in the series, about to be published in Europe and Canada..not so happy to see it would not be published in the US until January 2011. But, in one of those happy book happenings, I was fortunate enough to get my hands, or at least my netbook, on an E-Book copy, and I enjoyed reading the book so much, I just had to share.
I really liked the first book...I loved this one!

The most excellent Dr. Ruth Galloway, an expert in forensic anthropology is back, as well as a number of the characters from the first book, but most especially her friend, DCI Harry Nelson. Once again there will be a murder from the past to investigate and a very present danger for some to avoid. Oh, Ruth is just a trouble magnet!

Archeologists doing some digging at the site of an impressive old manor house and former Catholic orphanage, being torn down to build condos, find the bones of a young girl. She is maybe 5 years old, buried under an archway on the site. Where she was buried, in a doorway, and the fact that her scull is missing, make them think at first that she might be an ancient Roman sacrifice to the god Janus, the god of comings and goings. But it is soon apparent that they are looking at bones that are only decades rather than centuries old and that represent secrets that some still alive today may be willing to kill to keep buried. Once again, Ruth will find herself at the very center of the mystery..and the danger.

And once again we will find ourselves in the wonderfully atmospheric setting of seaside Norwich, England, on the edge of the marshlands, so important in the first book, where Ruth lives in her tiny isolated cottage. Although the setting does not play the large role it did in the first book, it is still a great addition to the story. Several interesting, intersecting story lines, bits of great ancient mythology and archeological facts, family secrets, mysteries old and new and a few red herrings for good measure add to the delight of this fast paced, well written thriller. But perhaps what most sets this book a bit apart from many books in this genre is the excellent character of Ruth Galloway.

Ruth is maybe not your typical mystery heroine, being almost 40, single, overweight and decidedly not stylish. She is, however, smart and independent, an expert in her field, often quite funny and...very surprising...pregnant. Well, not a total surprise to her. She knows exactly when she got pregnant and she knows without question who the father is and she is well aware of the difficulties this may present. What is perhaps most surprising to her is the fact that while she never really desired to have children, now that she finds herself about to have a child, even at only a few months pregnant, she is totally in love with her child and will do anything to protect it's life...which may well be an issue. Because it seems that someone is out to do them both a great deal of harm.

I am very sorry that you can not run out and get a copy of this book right this minute.(well, as Kay pointed out in a comment, you can, in fact, order it, with free shipping from The Book Depository in the UK) But, put a little note in your brain, come January. And I will remind you then. In the meantime, you can indeed get your hands on a copy of the first book, The Crossing Places, and introduce yourself to these very good characters, a great setting and a very enjoyable mystery.

My thanks to netGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a review copy of this book.


  1. Caite, I couldn't wait after reading CROSSING PLACES and ordered THE JANUS STONE from Book Depository (gotta love that free shipping). I was very impressed with it as well. The author has a new one coming out in early spring I think. Coming out in the UK probably. I'm excited to continue the story of Ruth's life and see what is next for her. Glad you liked it as well.

    NetGalley is great isn't it?

  2. Book Depository...yes, the free shipping convinced me to order the last Stieg Larsson months before it came out here.

    and this rate, I will soon HAVE to but an e-reader. E-books are ok on my netbook..I can ever rotate the page to make it work book like, but a reader it is not.

    yes...her next is due out in the spring. gosh, I wonder if netGalley will have it?? ;-)
    there was a excerpt in the back of this book...looks good..very good.

  3. I am new here! Would love for you to come visit me too :)

    Have a great day!

  4. Hmm....Ruth sounds like she has a lot in common with me--except I'm not single!

    Glad you found a series that you are enjoying so much.


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