The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway Series #2)

The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway Series #2)

4.1 37
by Elly Griffiths
     
 

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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

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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When a child's headless skeleton turns up during an archeological dig in Griffiths's compelling second Ruth Galloway mystery (after 2010's The Crossing Places), Ruth's determination that the bones are of recent origin spurs her special friend, Det. Chief Insp. Harry Nelson, to investigate the Catholic orphanage run by Fr. Patrick Hennessey that once occupied the Norfolk, England, site. Two children disappeared from the orphanage in 1973, though Ruth's study of the bones suggests that the murderer might have ties not to the orphanage but to the site's Roman's origins. Complicating matters are her pregnancy--the result of a one-night stand with Nelson in Crossing--and an escalating series of dangerous pranks meant to scare her off the case. Griffiths nimbly weaves the mythological aspects of her story--particularly the Roman god Janus, who represents doorways as well as beginnings and endings--with the complicated life of her feisty heroine. (Jan.)
From the Publisher
"Ruth's second appearance (The Crossing Places, 2009) is an enthralling page-turner that delights in complex characters." —Kirkus, STARRED review
Library Journal
British forensic anthropologist Ruth Galloway is called to investigate the headless skeleton of a child, found beneath the doorway of an old mansion, once an orphanage, which is now a target for redevelopment. Could the body be a part of the Roman ruins being excavated nearby or could it be the remains of one of two siblings who disappeared from the orphanage 40 years ago? DCI Harry Nelson and his sidekick, Clough, approach the case as a routine crime scene, while Galloway uncovers a tangled web of Roman mythology, family secrets, and insanity that endangers her own life and that of her unborn child. Following Griffiths's wonderfully successful debut, The Crossing Places, this is an equally compelling and suspenseful sequel with just the right touch of the gothic. Galloway is an outspoken and engaging character who is now faced with balancing her career as an anthropologist with life as a single mom. VERDICT Fans of Erin Hart and Aaron Elkins will be delighted by this series. With just the right balance of suspense, tight plotting, and wonderful British seaside scenery, this is sure to be hugely popular. [See a Q&A with the author on p. 50.—Ed.]—Susan Clifford Braun, The Aerospace Corp., El Segundo, CA
Kirkus Reviews

A forensic archaeologist's murder investigation puts her and her unborn child in mortal danger.

Ruth Galloway is intelligent, independent, overweight and pregnant. She has not yet told DCI Nelson that she fell pregnant after the one night of stress-relieving passion stemming from their partnership in another murder case. Ruth is called to a building site where bones have been discovered in the wreckage of a mansion built on Roman ruins, a site in the process of being turned into luxury apartments by Spens and Company. The body is that of a girl whose head is missing. Nelson has the task of digging into the history of the house, formerly a Catholic children's home, looking for clues. An interview with the priest who ran it turns up the story of a brother and sister who went missing and were never found. Assuming that the murdered child is the missing girl, Nelson is amazed when forensic evidence shows that the two must be different, and even more astonished when he realizes the Spens family used to live in the house. Already dealing with morning sickness, disapproving parents and the knowledge that Nelson is married with two girls of his own, Ruth starts to get cryptic threats from an unknown source. In fact, far too many people are not what they seem in this labyrinthine case.

Ruth's second appearance (The Crossing Places, 2009) is an enthralling page-turner that delights in complex characters.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780547237442
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
01/21/2011
Series:
Ruth Galloway Mysteries Series, #2
Pages:
327
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

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.’

Meet the Author

This is the second in her Ruth Galloway crime series.

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The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 37 reviews.
Twink More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting look at the use of archaeological expertise in investigating murder. Makes me want to read more.
MysteryReader More than 1 year ago
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.
Duck More than 1 year ago
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.
Mrs_ELS More than 1 year ago
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.
Suspensemag More than 1 year ago
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
ReaderOfThePack More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recently discovered this series and really like it. Forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is an intelligent, quirky and all too human protagonist; Harry Nelson is a perfect foil for her; the minor characters are well drawn. The details about archaeology are fascinating, too.
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I like this series. I learn a bit and am quite taken to the scenes she writes about. Well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very clever. A great British detective series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
MarnieG More than 1 year ago
So enjoyable...a break from the usual reading...
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kyohin More than 1 year ago
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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Love the ending and getting to it
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