The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway Series #2)

( 32 )

Overview

It?s been only a few months since archaeologist Ruth Galloway found herself entangled in a missing persons case, barely escaping with her life. But when construction workers demolishing a large old house in Norwich uncover the bones of a child beneath a doorway?minus its skull?Ruth is once again called upon to investigate. Is it a Roman-era ritual sacrifice, or is the killer closer at hand?

Ruth and Detective Harry Nelson would like to find out?and fast. When they realize the ...

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The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway Series #2)

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Overview

It’s been only a few months since archaeologist Ruth Galloway found herself entangled in a missing persons case, barely escaping with her life. But when construction workers demolishing a large old house in Norwich uncover the bones of a child beneath a doorway—minus its skull—Ruth is once again called upon to investigate. Is it a Roman-era ritual sacrifice, or is the killer closer at hand?

Ruth and Detective Harry Nelson would like to find out—and fast. When they realize the house was once a children’s home, they track down the Catholic priest who served as its operator. Father Hennessey reports that two children did go missing from the home forty years before—a boy and a girl. They were never found. When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case. But as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is trying very hard to put her off the trail by frightening her, and her unborn child, half to death.

The Janus Stone is a riveting follow-up to Griffiths’s acclaimed The Crossing Places.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Ruth's second appearance (The Crossing Places, 2009) is an enthralling page-turner that delights in complex characters." —Kirkus, STARRED review
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547577401
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Series: Ruth Galloway Series , #2
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 129,438
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

This is the second in her Ruth Galloway crime series.

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Read an Excerpt

A light breeze runs through the long grass at the top of the hill. Close up, the land looks ordinary, just heather and coarse pasture with the occasional white stone standing out like a signpost. But if you were to fly up above these unremarkable hills you would be able to see circular raised banks and darker rectangles amongst the greens and browns – sure signs that this land has been occupied many, many times before.
 Ruth Galloway, walking rather slowly up the hill, does not need the eagle’s eye view to know that this is an archaeological site of some importance. Colleagues from the university have been digging on this hill for days and they have uncovered not only evidence of a Roman villa but also of earlier Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements.
 Ruth had planned to visit the site earlier but she has been busy marking papers and preparing for the end of term. It is May and the air is sweet, full of pollen and the scent of rain. She stops, getting her breath back and enjoying the feeling of being outdoors on a spring afternoon. The year has been dark so far, though not without unexpected bonuses, and she relishes the chance just to stand still, letting the sun beat down on her face.
 ‘Ruth!’ She turns and sees a man walking towards her. He is wearing jeans and a work-stained shirt and he treats the hill with disdain, hardly altering his long stride. He is tall and slim with curly dark hair greying at the temples. Ruth recognises him, as he obviously does her, from a talk he gave at her university several months ago. Dr Max Grey, from the University of Sussex, an archaeologist and an expert on Roman Britain.
 ‘I’m glad you could come,’ he says and he actually does look glad. A change from most archaeologists, who resent another expert on their patch. And Ruth is an acknowledged expert – on bones, decomposition and death. She is Head of Forensic Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk. ‘Are you down to the foundations?’ asks Ruth, following Max to the summit of the hill. It is colder here and, somewhere high above, a skylark sings.
 ‘Yes, I think so,’ says Max, pointing to a neat trench in front of them. Halfway down, a line of grey stone can be seen. ‘I think we may have found something that will interest you, actually.’
 Ruth knows without being told.
 ‘Bones,’ she says.

Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson is shouting. Despite a notoriously short fuse at work (at home with his wife and daughters he is a pussy cat) he is not normally a shouter. Brusque commands are more his line, usually delivered on the run whilst moving on to the next job. He is a man of quick decisions and limited patience. He likes doing things: catching criminals, interrogating suspects, driving too fast and eating too much. He does not like meetings, pointless discussions or listening to advice. Above all, he does not like sitting in his office on a fine spring day trying to persuade his new computer to communicate with him. Hence the shouting.
 ‘Leah!’ he bellows.
 Leah, Nelson’s admin assistant (or secretary, as he likes to call her), edges cautiously into the room. She is a delicate, dark girl of twenty-five, much admired by the younger officers. Nelson, though, sees her mainly as a source of coffee and an interpreter of new technology, which seems to get newer and more temperamental every day. ‘Leah,’ he complains, ‘the screen’s gone blank again.’
 ‘Did you switch it off?’ asks Leah. Nelson has been known to pull out plugs in moments of frustration, once fusing all the lights on the second floor.
 ‘No. Well, once or twice.’
 Leah dives beneath the desk to check the connections. ‘Seems OK,’ she says. ‘Press a key.’
 ‘Which one?’
 ‘Surprise me.’
 Nelson thumps the space bar and the computer miraculously comes to life, saying smugly, ‘Good afternoon, DCI Nelson.’
 ‘Fuck off,’ responds Nelson, reaching for the mouse.
 ‘I beg your pardon?’ Leah’s eyebrows rise.
 ‘Not you,’ says Nelson, ‘This thing. When I want small talk, I’ll ask for it.’

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 32 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 32 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The mystery is good, but it's the characters I love

    Crossing Places was the first novel of Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series. 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.

    9 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2012

    Highly recommended

    Good crime-mystery series. Interesting premise. Forensic archaelogist in the UK. There are recurring characters including a Druid, a catholic priest, members of the police force including an Inspector who is a prominent character through the series. Would be better if you start with the first book, The Crossing places. The main character is asked to be involved in a police investigation in the first book and in subsequent books. Most take place in the Saltmarsh area near Norfolk England. Like the descriptions of this desolate area. Several storylines through the series including a couple of unlikely romances and several humorous situations. Historical info on the area is also part of each book. Great relationships between the characters. I enjoy a good mystery with an interesting but not overwhelming number of characters, in areas that I am not familiar with that also provide me with some history.
    I can't wait for the next book

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2013

    Worth a Read

    Interesting look at the use of archaeological expertise in investigating murder. Makes me want to read more.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 6, 2012

    Does Not Disappoint

    The second in the Ruth Galloway series does not disappoint. I really connect to Ruth in this series, and enjoy the setting. I can't wait until I have the third book in hand to find out more about these characters.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 1, 2012

    Wonderful Mystery Interesting Setting

    I have really enjoyed the setting, background and unique mystery. Head of Forensic Archaeology, Ruth Galloway isn't wonderwoman, and I like her better for it. She's a complicated person making her way through a career she enjoys with a life outside it. The mystery is unexpected and doesn't tie things up too neatly. Love this novel and series.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2012

    Hurray! More mysteries with Ruth and Nelson!

    This is the second mystery in the series with Dr. Ruth Galloway. The characters are interesting and flawed, which makes solving the mysteries even more challenging. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist, which is not unique, but the location of the stories (England) increases the appeal. The author creates a great atmosphere for intrigue and murder.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Looking forward to the next book in the series

    Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist is called in to investigate the headless skeleton of a child found in the rubble of an old mansion (formally an orphanage). While trying to uncover the mystery though, she is given some not so subtle warnings to back off. Ruth quickly realizes someone is trying very hard to throw her off the trail and if this is not enough, Ruth is pregnant with her first child and now her life and the life of her unborn child is in serious jeopardy!
    "The Janus Stone" is Griffith's second Ruth Galloway mystery. I thought it was wonderfully written and although this was my introduction to the series-her first installment was "The Crossing Places"-I still fell in love with the main character right away. In this book Galloway teams up with Inspector Nelson to uncover the mystery of a headless skeleton of a child. This is quite poignant since Ruth is found to be pregnant herself. Her personal life comes into play often in the story and eventually becomes very purposeful to the plot and ending.
    The story takes many twists and turns and the author does a very good job of giving the reader many suspects to choose from, but does not lean towards any one of them in particular. Griffith also does a wonderful job of not just focusing on Ruth and Nelson to solve the mystery, but the entire team to help solve the puzzle. This is really a great read and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

    Reviewed by Catherine Peterson for Suspense Magazine

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2011

    Great Series!

    The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths picks up just a few months after The Crossing Places. ** Spoiler ** Ruth Galloway is pregnant with Detective Harry Nelson's child. She is committed to raising the child on her own since Detective Nelson is happily married with two daughters. In this installment, Ruth finds herself involved with two archaeological digs. One of the digs takes place on the site of a former children's home. A developer is in the process of tearing down the house and turning the site into apartments, but the requisite archaeological dig unearths the skeleton of a young girl. The bones are first thought to be those of a 1970s runaway from the children's home, but a filling in the girl's tooth proves the skeleton more likely died in the 1950s. After she examines the bones, someone begins to frighten Ruth by leaving items, such as a dead bird and Ruth's name in blood, on the site of the second dig that Ruth is involved in. These items cause Ruth great distress. The big mystery surrounds the identity of the skeleton. Interspersed with the main story are chapters written from the point of view of the murderer. The murderer is well educated in history and mythology. In fact, both Ruth Galloway novels have integrated mythology and history into present day stories. In The Janus Stone, Janus is referenced as the god of beginnings and transitions. Janus acts as a gatekeeper, which includes doorways. The girl's skeleton is found under the doorway to the home. Thus, the archaeologists think that the child may have been a sacrifice to Janus. The Janus Stone is a good read, but I recommend starting with The Crossing Places. Many of the characters and events from The Crossing Places are referenced in the second novel. At the end of The Janus Stone, there is a teaser for the third novel, The House at Sea's End. The first few chapters are promising. Minor characters are revisited and a sea setting is prominent. The saltmarsh environment is a large part of what drew me to this series so I will definitely return to this series when it is released in the United States. Thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for providing me with an e-galley, via NetGalley.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Janus Stone

    Ruth Galloway is a forensic anthropologist. Our story starts with the discovery of a set of bones under the doorway of a building being torn down for new development. Ruth is called in to investigate and determine if the bones are "old" or "new". Her analysis leads to the discovery of a murdered young girl.

    I was hoping for something different from this book. A big fan of the Bones series on TV, I thought the story would be more scientific. However, it is much more about the people solving the crime than the crime itself. Once I realized this I found the story to be very entertaining.

    Ruth finds herself working with Inspector Harry Nelson again (I assume they worked together in book 1 as well). Consequences of their last encounter will be following Ruth for the rest of her life. Inspector Nelson finds himself feeling the need to protect her when he realizes that someone is literally trying to scare her to death to keep her from solving the case of the murdered little girl.

    An enjoyable read, characters were fantastic, but it left much to be desired from a more technical/scientific point of view.

    3/5

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 22, 2011

    Good read

    I look forward to the next in the series

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2010

    Almost

    I wanted to read The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths because I read and reviewed her first of the Ruth Galloway books, The Crossing Places, and enjoyed it very much. I wish I could say the same about this book. In the first, the author used location descriptions that were so vivid they brought the location of Saltmarsh to life, and its story about finding the bones of an unknown child was touching.

    In the Janus Stone, those rich descriptions were missing. The mystery was ok, but it was again about finding the bones of an unknown child. There were plenty of suspects and enough twists and turns to get lost in, but it fell short for me. We learn much more about the two main characters, Ruth Galloway and Harry Nelson, but unfortunately the more I learn about Ruth, the less I like her.

    One issue I have is that the main character has a hatred for Christians. In the first book there was mention of the character's born again parents and her disdain for them, but in this book she really went all out to try to paint them as bad people because of their faith.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2014

    A great series of books!

    I hadn't read this book in the correct order. Her stories are so good, I love the characters they are wonderful, so I had to go back and read Number 2! Set in Britain I really like Ruth Galloway the main character. Can't wait for the next one.

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  • Posted June 9, 2014

    So enjoyable...a break from the usual reading...

    So enjoyable...a break from the usual reading...

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  • Posted October 3, 2013

    This series continues to score by having the main character have

    This series continues to score by having the main character have both an interesting professional life and an interesting (to say the least) personal life.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2013

    Super

    Love the ending and getting to it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2013

    LEADER DEN

    Mountainstar

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2013

    Good story

    I like the characters in

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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