Monday, January 31, 2011

The Janus Stone - Elly Griffiths

Crossing Places was the first novel of Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series. ( I reviewed it here). I really enjoyed it and was happy to settle in with the second in the series - The Janus Stone.

This series takes place in the Norfolk region of England. Ruth has been called on to a construction site in her capacity as a forensic archaeologist. The skeleton of a child has been found underneath a doorway by the builders as they demolish the original building - a mansion that was also home to an orphanage.

Finding a child's skeleton impacts Ruth rather more personally than usual - she is four months pregnant. As she delves farther into identifying the remains, someone else is just as hard at work - making sure she doesn't succeed. They seem determined to go to any lengths to stop her.

Griffiths has created a great character in Ruth. She is highly intelligent, but insecure in social settings. She happily lives alone with her cat in a remote cottage. (I love the descriptions of the isolated salt marsh and it's beauty) She has come to terms with being pregnant for the first time at forty, but isn't concerned about being a single parent. Just about telling her quite religious parents. Not a cookie cutter protagonist at all.

The supporting characters are just as interesting. I am quite taken with her friend and colleague Cathbad - a self proclaimed Druid.  Recurring character DCI Harry Nelson is a man of many facets - the relationship between him and Ruth is quite complicated.

I'm intrigued with how much historical detail is woven into Griffiths' mysteries.  Janus is the god of beginning and endings, January is named after him and he is the god of doorways - transitions and change. The forensic and archaeological details are real and accurate as well, not sensationalized at all.

The Janus Stone is interspersed with random entries from the killer's diaries, but it is impossible to try and date them. I thought I had figured out who the suspect was early on, but was proven wrong as the story progressed. Lots of twists and turns keep you guessing.

As much as I enjoyed the mystery part of the story, it is the characters and their interactions - especially those of Harry and Ruth that capture me. I cannot wait to see where Griffiths takes them - and us - next. Watch for the third in the series - House at Sea's End -  I will be.


Mystica said...

Sounds intriguing.

Kay said...

Wasn't this a great book? I love this seriers for the mystery, but even more for the characters. I have #3 on the way to me from Book Depository and look forward to hearing what comes next for Ruth.

Luanne said...

The first chapter of House by the Sea was included at the end of The Janus Stone in my copy - looks good. I too enjoy the characters more than or as much as the mystery!

Dorte H said...

Griffiths was one of my best finds of 2010, and I have heard her third is every bit as good. Fantastic series.

Marie said...

I read this book last spring and really enjoyed it. I'm glad you liked it too.