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Ruth Galloway #2

The Janus Stone

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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 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.

328 pages, Hardcover

First published March 1, 2010

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About the author

Elly Griffiths

71 books7,503 followers
Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton. Though not her first novel, The Crossing Places is her first crime novel.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,652 reviews
Profile Image for Adina .
890 reviews3,543 followers
July 21, 2021
The Janus Stone is the 2nd novel in Ruth Gallaway mystery series. I usually read two books before I decide if I continue with a series. Taking in consideration my rating it seems this one is a keeper.
Ruth is a Forensic archaeologist in remote Norfolk and she is once again caught into a murder investigation together with DCI Nelson. This time, bones of a young child are found when an old Orphanage is being taken down to make space for a new apartment complex. Archaeologists are called because the site is thought to contain a Roman church. Sacrifice rites are suspected but the body seems more recent than expected.

Some spoilers from the previous book!. There are a few aspects I like about this series. Firstly, the main character is a smart and powerful woman but she is also overweight and going towards middle age, so not exactly the regular heroine. Secondly, the romantic relationships are quite complex and unexpected. In the 1st novel she has a one night stand with DCI Nelson and becomes pregnant. In this instalment, we follow her through her pregnancy and the debates she has about her feelings (and the father’s) about the whole situation. The characters are also complex, imperfect, with internal struggles. In short, they feel real.

I also enjoyed the crime plot but this book was more about the personal life of Ruth and DCI Nelson which was fine with me.
Profile Image for Sandysbookaday .
2,050 reviews2,105 followers
January 25, 2023
EXCERPT: When Nelson is asked what is the worst thing about being a policeman, he sometimes answers 'the smell'. It is partly meant as a rather grim joke but, in fact, conceals an even grimmer truth. Villains, the feral, rat-like kind, do smell. As a young policeman, Nelson once had to accompany a convicted paedophile from court to prison. Being locked in the back of a van with this scum for a sixty-mile journey was one of the worst experiences of his life. Nelson remembers the man had actually tried to talk to him. Had even, incredible as it seems, wanted to be friendly. 'Don't. fucking. talk. to. me.' Nelson had spat, before they had even reached the outskirts of Manchester. But it is the smell that he remembers most. This man would obviously have had a shower in prison but he absolutely stank: a fetid, rotten smell that reeked of unwashed clothes, windowless rooms, of fear and unspeakable obsession. When he got home that night, Nelson had washed and showered three times but sometimes, even today, he can still smell it. The stench of evil.

Places smell too. The downstairs loo where he once found the body of a little girl, murdered by her mother; the garbage-strewn back street where he saw a colleague stabbed to death; the desolate beach where he and Ruth unearthed the body of another dead girl. There may not have been an actual smell but there was something in the air, heaviness, a sense of secrecy and of things left to fester and rot.

And Nelson had smelt it on that building site. No matter how many years had passed since that little body was buried beneath the floorboards, the smell was still there. It's a murder scene; Nelson is sure of it.

ABOUT 'THE JANUS STONE': 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.

MY THOUGHTS: What can I say? I love this character driven series. Every book written gives the reader a few more nuggets of information about the characters. Ruth has, in the past, been part of a team identifying bodies from the mass graves in Bosnia. Nelson may have a short fuse at work, but at home he's a pussycat. Michael Malone, or Cathbad in his Druid persona, is employed as a lab assistant in the chemistry department of the university. Judy Johnson is a bookie's daughter.

I am particularly fond of Cathbad. Judy and Cloughie play a larger role in The Janus Stone than in the previous book. I love that Ruth accepts her body and doesn't feel the need to try to attain the body of a model. Nelson is conflicted by his feelings for Ruth. She intrigues him. He has never met a woman like her.

Although this is a character driven novel, there's plenty of action and several mysteries spanning the centuries. I love the history, myths and legends that are seamlessly woven into the storyline.

I have already read the next book in the series, The House at Sea's End, but I am looking forward to reading it again.
My favourite quote: 'I'm not mad . . . I've got a first in classics from Cambridge.'


#TheJanusStone #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @ellygriffiths17 @quercusbooks

T: @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for the loan of The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my Goodreads.com profile page or the about page on sandysbookaday.wordpress.com

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and my webpage https://sandysbookaday.wordpress.com/...
Profile Image for Liz.
2,145 reviews2,760 followers
October 19, 2019

Truth be told, while I admire Ruth Galloway, I love DCI Nelson. He just brings a smile to my face. Whether trying to learn the latest technology or moaning about having to hobnob with “arty farty types”, he is so hysterically old school.

The book seems to be more about Ruth’s personal life than the mystery, which involves a decapitated young child’s skeleton which is found underneath an old house being demolished to make way for luxury apartments.

This is more than the typical mystery. You get bits of history and philosophy thrown in for good measure. It’s a very intellectual mystery. Griffiths’ writing style reminds me of Louise Penny’s in that it’s a very character driven story.

I will be following up with the rest of the books in the series.

Profile Image for Carolyn (on vacation).
2,248 reviews642 followers
January 9, 2020
I enjoyed this second book in Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series just as much as the introductory book and I really like the way the characters are developing in this very character driven plot. Ruth Galloway with her straightforward no-nonsense approach to life and DCI Harry Nelson with his old fashioned approach to policing and disdain of new technology and pretentiousness. His wife Michelle and two daughters round out his character as a family man and the personalities of CID team are also emerging.

As a forensic archaeologist whose specialty is in identifying bones, Ruth is called to a building site when the skeleton of a child is unearthed next to a an old children's home that is being pulled down. Roman artifacts have been discovered at the site, but Ruth is pretty sure that the skeleton is a lot more modern than that.

This is a very atmospheric tale with gothic overtones as Ruth feels she's being watched at her isolated home on the Norfolk salt marshes and when she is alone at the archaeological dig site. It's also very suspenseful as a very twisted murderer leaves macabre messages for Ruth and tries to kill again.
March 21, 2019
I always right short reviews on audiobooks. This is the second in the Ruth Galloway series and it was just as good as the first one! Wow I love this author, there is never just one mystery but several things going on and it's pretty difficult to figure out who is doing what, but in a very good way.

It has a gothic feel to it, is very atmospheric and I've learned a heck of a lot about the salt marshes of Norfolk.

I came to this series after reading her excellent stand alone novel "The Stranger Diaries" which I also highly recommend.

The narration is excellent and the voice fits the story and setting.

I highly recommend this series by audiobook.
Profile Image for Kay ☼.
2,035 reviews770 followers
April 22, 2021

It's a good read if you like archaeology, myth and detective stories. Ruth and DCI Nelson's team try to solve a case after a headless skeleton of a child is discovered at a demolition site of what used to be a children's home.
With The Janus Stone I enjoyed the character development more than the mystery. How could I not when Ruth and Nelson are in a complex "relationship". Since I read this series out of order, I already know how it will turnout, but still curious with the process. I wish the author will cutback redundant parts about Ruth's weight and fashion sense. I think the reader gets it first, second or third time.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,324 reviews2,145 followers
May 7, 2019
I thought the first book in this series showed promise and I was right. Book two turned out to be just as good.

Top marks to the author for her well written characters. There is something very appealing about Ruth especially her independence and general common sense. Nelson is fun too although I cannot imagine where the Kate/Nelson story is going to go!

There is an interesting mystery going on involving the discovery of a small child's skeleton. This is the catalyst for including Ruth in the case as she brings with her her knowledge of bones and how old they are. The skeleton in The Janus Stone is not as old as suspected and the case is quite easily solved to everyone's satisfaction.

Altogether an enjoyable and entertaining way to pass a few hours and I am ready for book three. ```
Profile Image for Brenda.
725 reviews146 followers
February 21, 2016
I really liked the first book in this series, and my feelings haven't changed with this one, the second. I still like Ruth and Nelson, the quirky Cathbad, and the archeological background and mysticism. The mystery begins with the discovery of the bones of a child at a dig. Along with the investigation are the personal relationships between the characters. I love the well-written dialogue and the bits of sarcasm.
Profile Image for Lisa.
782 reviews
February 29, 2016
5 big stars for The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths i loved the way the author takes you on a journey about the life of a Forensic expert & the detail that goes with the story. In the 2nd instalment Ruth investigates a body of a little girl who is found dead in old house what makes this more bizarre is the little girl is missing a head.

Is it Ritual sacrifice or just plain Murder. At the same time Ruth finds herself pregnant & has to deal with the issue of telling DI Harry Nelson who she has had a fling with.

To top it off Ruth gets kidnapped by the perp & is held captive she fears for the safety of her unborn baby than herself its a race against time for DCI Nelson to find her .

I loved the way the author combined all the characters well together & was a perfect fit.

highly recommended.
Profile Image for Ken.
2,206 reviews1,329 followers
April 14, 2020
Dr Ruth Galloway's forensic expertise is again called upon after a skeleton of a young child is discovered during the demolition of an old Victorian children's home in Norwich.

While the mystery is strong and compelling this second novel is really about getting to know Ruth and the other characters better.

After Ruth's news in the first novel her vulnerability and human side is much more apparent.

Griffiths really sets the scene of the Norfolk location as well as some enjoyable facts during this historical investigation.
The plot soon becomes gripping especially as the reader wants Ruth to succeed unscathed.

The first two books of this series have been so enjoyable, thankfully I've got the next few already waiting on my shelf!
Profile Image for LolaF.
399 reviews259 followers
August 29, 2021
La verdad es que el libro me ha resultado lento, con un exceso de rodeos, descripciones y reiteradas referencias al primer libro de la serie, Los ecos del pantano, que aportan bien poco a esta nueva entrega. Solo en el último tercio coge un buen ritmo que te atrapa y se mantiene hasta el final.

El mayor aliciente de esta serie era el tándem que formaban el inspector Harry Nelson y Ruth Galloway como investigadores y en este libro Ruth, aunque ha tenido un papel protagonista, ha ido más bien a remolque, pegando tumbos, más que destacar en la resolución de un caso que en muchos hitos de la investigación ha sido bastante previsible.

Tal vez esta segunda entrega haya perdido la magia de la sorpresa de descubrir un tipo de investigadora diferente, pero no ha respondido a mis expectativas, tengo mejor recuerdo del primer libro.

Es una de esas series donde tiene casi tanto peso la parte de investigación como la relación personal entre los dos protagonistas y aunque haya ganado en peso la relación personal, dejándolos en una situación bastante comprometida que pudiera despertar curiosidad para ver cómo se desarrolla, no creo que continúe con la serie.

También me he encontrado alguna expresión un poco extraña, que achaco al traductor.

Valoración: 6/10
Lectura: agosto 2021
Profile Image for Leila.
442 reviews212 followers
February 25, 2020
This is the second book in the series of murder/mysteries written by Elly Griffiths. I didn't enjoy the setting quite as much as her first book but nevertheless I feel it still merits a five star review for the very clever writing, the twists and turns of the plot that kept me as a reader always ready to read more and the extent of the background research. I carried the book around the house with me to snatch as much reading time as possible, yet it still took me awhile to read simply because I found I really had to concentrate on all that was happening Again the main character is Ruth Galloway who is called upon to use her forensic skills to solve the murder of a child. The other main character is again DCI Nelson who works closely with Ruth to seek out the killer. There is a surprising development here in the second book. Ruth's druid friend once more appears to help in the search for the truth about the discovered bones. The friendship between the two main characters has great appeal without it overstepping the mark. The warmth in their relationship could have been a problem but the author handles it really well with taste and perfect sensitivity. Although Ruth is a strong personality there is a hidden fragility, a sensitivity within her which is revealed in the book in the way she deals with all that faces her. In the 'creepy' scenes where she is alone in her home I almost felt I was there with her, the atmospheric writing is so realistic. The mythological and legendary aspects are all here again too. All in all this is for me an excellent second book in the series and I look forward to moving on to book 3. I highly recommend this series as an unusual take in the murder/mystery genre.
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,802 reviews1,234 followers
August 17, 2019
I really liked the first one, and this one is even better, and has a lot more humor, and I love the humor. I love Ruth and the setting. The characters are interesting. Ruth’s new situation is really interesting. I had been afraid that I wouldn’t like the change of circumstances revealed at the end of book one but I ended up enjoying everything about this story.

The author seems to know where the readers’ minds will go and that makes for some great red herrings and some chilling scenes.

I am thoroughly enjoying these books so far but I can no longer read one mystery after another, especially books in the same series. I’d get too irritated with amateurs being in danger of being killed in every single book. It’s just a bit much and stretches credibility. I’m glad there are many more books but I think reading two or three or maybe four a year at the most is plenty for me. I am so glad that I’ve finally found this series, thanks to Laura and Goodreads.

4-1/2 stars
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,262 reviews404 followers
October 15, 2019
3.5 stars. Parts of this book were 3 stars for me and parts 4. The mystery side of the story wasn't quite as interesting as the first book but I did enjoy the characters. The main character Ruth is very enjoyable to read about, I loved her humour and thoughts, I liked the character of Nelson too.

The book I read had the first chapter of the next book in which

An enjoyable read and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

Read on open library.
Profile Image for Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer.
1,822 reviews1,384 followers
October 4, 2022
#2 of the Ruth Galloway novels – a series of crime novels featuring a Norfolk based forensic archaeologist and of particular interest to me given my interests in both Norfolk and archaeology.

In particular while at secondary school in Norfolk, I participated over many months in archaeological field walking around the site of a suspected Roman villa a few miles away from Swaffham.

And this novel opens with an archaeological investigation – lead by Dr Max Grey – into a Roman site a few miles from Swaffham (albeit rather incongruously on a hill).

However the main crime to be investigated occurs in Norwich as some children’s bones are discovered in a Victorian mansion (previously a Catholic Children’s Home) being demolished by Edward Spens – a local property developer magnate. When the Father who founded and ran the home confirms that a boy and a girl (of about the right age) disappeared many years previously – the initial assumption is that the body is that of the girl, but forensic investigations prove that the body is around twenty years older and over time suspicions as to the identity of the girl switch twice.

There is a recurring image of Janus – god of boundaries, openings and doorways which picks up on the pagan/Druid liminal imagery in the first book – which I enjoyed, much more so I have to say than the rather bizarre series of Roman-inspired demented diary entries which are threaded through the book as clues leading to the real victim and villain.

One issue with the first two books of the series is that both rely rather too heavily for plots on intimidation and then actual physical threats to Ruth: her involvement in cases that she is investigating is not just repetitive but coincidental (in both books too many of the story lines overlap in an insular fashion) and implausible (how often are forensic witnesses really dragged into cases).

But most seriously having the main tension in the book around threats to someone who is the protagonist of a crime series removes the concept of jeopardy almost entirely (even if it is I think more of a genre than a series flaw).

But the developing “relationship” between DCI Nelson and Ruth as they try to come to terms with the latter’s unplanned pregnancy from their shock induced one night stand in the first novel works well and adds a maturity to the main story.

A good addition to an interesting series.
Profile Image for Pam.
457 reviews43 followers
August 4, 2022
I enjoy these books about the forensic archeologist who helps solve murders—this is the second I’ve read. Ruth Galloway lives in an interesting location (remote seaside Norfolk) and is an expert in bones—Roman, Celt and modern. That part of the story is very interesting. At least 50% of the book deals with Galloway’s confused and pretty childish private life. That could have been cut back—a lot. It’s hard to believe an independent, knowledgeable 40 year old could have a 14 year old bubbling to the surface all the time and also get such tender concern from all the male characters.
Profile Image for switterbug (Betsey).
845 reviews805 followers
September 21, 2013
I was both charmed and haunted by the first Ruth Galloway mystery, The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway). Griffith's sense of place--the salt marshes of Norwich, England--was stark and moodily disquieting. The land seemed almost anthropomorphic in its presence, and served to heighten the story and even strengthen the weak spots, including her strained and rushed denouement. Ruth, a Ph.D. anthropologist, is a flawed and frank woman of forty, an unapologetic atheist with a no-nonsense style. In this second installment, she remains steadfast. One of my favorite lines is:

"...God is a made-up fairy tale, like Snow White, only nastier."

And she is now three months pregnant. The father is Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, the taciturn and capable, and generally happily married father of two teenage daughters. In the first novel, Ruth and Harry were thrown together in a case. Bones buried beneath the marshes led to a twisted investigation and one intimate night together, a night where forces almost transcendent brought them together. They did not embark on a continuous affair, and their feelings for each other are blurry. Harry is still a bit of a cynical enigma, but a tender family man.

Now, in the heather and coarse grasses of Swaffham, a university-supported ancient Roman dig site is the primary location for the second team-up of Ruth and Nelson. Bones are again unearthed--this time the headless skeleton of a child of indeterminate age and time. Complicating matters is the necessary interruption of a development project of entrepreneur Edward Sens. He is building a seventy-four-unit luxury apartment complex on this site that was once a Catholic orphanage.

A cat-and-mouse crime thriller ensues, with a variety of new and old characters, including (but not limited to) an elderly Catholic priest, a sexy love interest for Ruth, (he is also an anthropologist), a dying nun, and Cathbad, the Druid, from the first novel. Griffiths balances Ruth's personal story and the criminal investigation with sufficient finesse and wry wit, and there is a tough tension whenever Ruth and Nelson are in the same room or space. However, despite all the back stories of peripheral characters, they don't organically come alive. Griffiths uses too much exposition to tell, more than show, her characters and story. Even Nelson remains archly narrow, but there's hope for his character to develop.

Moreover, the landscape and climate, which was so potent in the first novel, is given short shrift in this one. It is there, and lovely when it is, but more sparing, in small doses. How disappointing, because it was the most moving aspect of the author's talent. THE JANUS STONE is lightly competent, and she has learned to control the plot better this time around, but the pacing is just as rushed. The unfolding is a bit more manageable, less hysterical, but still melodramatic. Griffith's police procedural is just another stone in the river without her earthy, lucid, topographical and climactic inclusions. The archeological parts add color and weight, but sometimes they feel like artifacts to the story, and were more telegraphed than embedded, despite their impact.

I may go back for the third installment, THE HOUSE AT SEAS END. The prologue and first few chapters were included in this book, as a tease. Why am I going back? To see what happens to Ruth and Nelson, of course. And to hope for more vibrant terrain. If I don't see significant improvement and development of character and story, then it will be my last go-round for this series. And if the author kills off Nelson's wife in some tragic accident for convenience, I will put the book down even before I finish it.
Profile Image for Kaora.
585 reviews282 followers
March 3, 2018
I really can't get into these. I really have tried.

The characters I find really bland. Ruth seems to have zero reaction to her life being in danger which is pretty much this entire book. I'm not totally sure why she is the "focus" of this series as she really does nothing in this book except . She doesn't even solve the mystery!

I also just can't believe some of the characters reactions in this book. They seem diluted to the point where it seems like the characters are robots pretending to have emotions. .

I also have an incredibly difficult time believing that the killer knew all those intimate details about Ruth enough to "play with her mind". (And can I just put in here that after Ruth gets attacked twice she should probably NOT go out by herself anymore? But what do I know...) Why even target Ruth? She isn't even doing any of the investigation really...

I give up.
Profile Image for Ingrid.
1,260 reviews54 followers
September 4, 2017
I really enjoyed this story! Looking forward to the rest now.
Profile Image for Kylie H.
944 reviews
May 10, 2020
This is the second book in the Ruth Galloway series. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist who finds herself working through another mysterious find on a housing development site. The bones of a young child, but with the skull missing are found. Ruth soon finds herself working alongside Harry Nelson a police detective who she admires but now feels awkward around.
Once again this story is told with a certain amount of humour and humanity that balances out nicely with the macabre storyline.
I do look forward to reading more in this series.

NOTE: Do not google 'The Janus Stone', Google kept wanting to give me links to 'The Anus Store'! (The mind boggles :0 ) and lots of weird stuff keeps coming into my feed.
Profile Image for Sarah.
746 reviews132 followers
February 25, 2023
I thoroughly enjoyed this second instalment in Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway series.

Three months after the dramatic events at the end of The Crossing Places, forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway is happily (literally nauseatingly) pregnant, the result of her brief tryst with DCI Harry Nelson, and looking forward to life as a single working mother.

She's called to consult when the skeleton of a child is found buried on the site of a property development - is this a remnant from a medieval graveyard on the site, or a more recent, and suspicious, death?

Ruth also becomes involved in the excavation of a Roman villa, overseen by her colleague Max Grey, who seems to be developing a romantic interest in Ruth.

When evidence of animal sacrifices, both past and present, materialise at both sites, it begins to appear that someone is taking ancient Roman ritual too far.

As in the previous book, Ruth gets drawn into a deadly showdown as the plot reaches its crescendo - I'll admit I needed to suspend disbelief a little at her constant traipsing onto dig sites alone at night, when her intuition is screaming at her not too. Similarly, the situation between herself and DCI Nelson is pretty odd - he's a supposedly happy family man but is also jumping with joy that he's going to be a father again with the colleague with whom he had a one-night-stand. I really can't imagine where the author is going to take their relationship from here, but I'm sufficiently engaged with the character of Ruth Galloway that I'll be seeking out book three (The House at Sea's End) to find out!

Re-read February 2023 I don't really have a lot to add to the above, although I can say that I found Ruth's character more engaging in The Janus Stone than in the series opener The Crossing Places. It's a dark and intriguing mystery, and fortunately sufficient time has elapsed since my first reading that I'd forgotten the identity of the murderer until very late in the book. It was interesting to back track to the backstory for Ruth's daughter's given name in future instalments.
Profile Image for Leo.
4,385 reviews408 followers
January 9, 2021
3.5 stars. I enjoyed everything revolving the crime and archeological terms but wasn't that involved with the private life of the main character. Had some issues with it but overall I liked the book. Seems like in every book I've read so far about Ruth, I enjoy to overall story but I have some issues with either her view on her weight or some questionable life choices.
Profile Image for Paul.
1,217 reviews1,962 followers
July 14, 2023
“Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit, everything changes, nothing perishes,”

The second in a crime series set in Norfolk and about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. I have read the second in the series as I quite enjoyed the first and the characterisation was good. It’s also pretty good in this second outing. The main protagonists are engaging and nuanced enough to avoid cliché. Some of the minor characters in the first novel are given a bit more space and flesh, including Cathbad the Druid.
The plot revolves around a rather grand old house in Norwich which is being gutted to be turned into modern apartments. The skeleton of a small child is discovered under one of the door frames. This turns out to be relatively modern (1950s). There is also another dig, Roman this time, which Ruth is involved in and we move between the two. Here is introduced assorted gods, particularly Janus and Hecate. There is a good deal about borders and boundaries and Jocasta also crops up. There’s also a fair amount about Roman festivals. DCI Harry Nelson, who at first appeared to be a fairly unreconstructed male chauvinist, continues to develop and become more nuanced.
There are some flaws in the plot and sometimes it’s a bit thin. Moving between the characters can take some getting used to. The writing in the first person can be annoying as well:

“On impulse Ruth goes over to the box containing the other evidence bags from the site.”

However it is well paced and Griffiths creates atmosphere well. Catholicism rears its head and there’s an elderly nun or two floating about. On the whole this is ok and I read it pretty quickly.
Profile Image for Kathy .
698 reviews232 followers
August 21, 2013
The pleasure of being in a marathon reading spree on a newly discovered favorite series is absolute joy for me as a reader. So, I find myself in absolute joy while I finish one Ruth Galloway mystery and start another. Reviews become somewhat bothersome in this situation because all I want to do is get on with reading the next book. Elly Griffiths has caught me hook, line, and sinker. I only stop to do a review out of respect to the enjoyment I'm experiencing from these mesmerizing stories.

In The Janus Stone, Ruth Galloway is again lending her expertise as a forensics archaeologist/bone expert. The site this time is a luxury apartment development, where human bones have been unearthed. Before the development can continue, a thorough examination of the bones and their relation to the building site is required, and Ruth will be the one to determine what the story is surrounding the bones. As the area of discovery is in the nearly torn-down structure of an old Victorian house, there are several layers of owners and uses of the house to uncover. Simultaneously, Ruth has been invited by an charming fellow archaeologist to visit and comment on a nearby Roman excavation. As seems to be the course for Ruth, both will prove to have their connections, and those connections are deadly dangerous. The developers of the apartment complex are a well-established family of Norfolk, and they have much at stake in this investigation. Detective Harry Nelson becomes involved when the bones, which are a child's, prove to be an act of murder. Harry and Ruth have their own secrets with which to deal, too. The road to resolution is never an easy one for Ruth or Harry, and the ride is a wild and wooly one for readers.

Now, I have to begin the next story, but I will be bringing this one along with me. That's one of the best aspects of a great series, that one flows into another. Of course, the advantage to coming to a series after it has been in progress for some years is that the reader can happily close one book and open the next, without waiting a year for a new publication. After devouring the three remaining books, I will be waiting, too, but it will be something well worth waiting for.
Profile Image for Gary.
2,674 reviews377 followers
November 5, 2020
This is the second book in the 'Ruth Galloway series by author Elly Griffiths. The bones of a child minus the skull are found when an old house in Norwich is being demolished to make way for a housing development. DCI Harry Nelson asks forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway to help investigate the bones to try and uncover the mystery. The house used to be a children's home and Nelson manages to track down Father Hennessey, the Catholic priest who used to run the home. Father Hennessey tells him of two children who went missing from the home forty years ago and were never found but the bones relate to a time before the home when it was privately owned. Is it murder or a ritual sacrifice?
I like this series more for the characters and their personal lives than the cases themselves. For that reason the series really does improve with each book read. There is a very good mix of characters, a touch of humour and personal drama. If possible I would definitely suggest reading this series in the order they were written to be able to make more sense of the sub plots.
Profile Image for Anne.
575 reviews93 followers
February 4, 2020
I loved the first book in the series. However this book (book 2) was even better! Full of great characters, lots of mystery and suspense. Even some different love triangles. Definitely worth your time to read!
Profile Image for Laura.
772 reviews280 followers
June 5, 2019
I loved this second book in the series! Really glad that so many of my friends here love this series that I gave it another chance.

I don't normally give crime novels five star ratings, but I loved this all the way through, plus:

* the creepy British countryside just can't be beat
* the sea, the sea!
* loving the main characters more as I get to know them
* the rather dramatic event of the first book actually became more of an emotional draw than I had expected and it's a catalyst for laughter and tears and more drama on the romance side for Ruth
* Father Hennessey. Please tell me he is a recurring character.
* Loving the audio narration by Jane McDowell. She captures the atmosphere so well that I don't mind using Audible credits to buy these books.
* the archaeological details are a nice plus
* the sorta kinda romantic interest Ruth briefly dates in this book......I really hope we see him in book three.
* the creepy British countryside just can't be beat! Worth saying twice.

Highly recommend this series for creepy British wonderment! I'm moving right into the third book, even though I have some pressing library holdlist books I should be getting on with first. It's that good. 💙🇬🇧💙
Profile Image for LJ.
3,159 reviews311 followers
March 2, 2010
First Sentence: 1 June, Festival of Carna The house is waiting.

An old house is being demolished to make way for a new housing complex when work is halted when the headless skeleton of a child is found beneath a doorway. It is learned the house was once a Catholic children’s home and two young children went missing. The situation of the skeleton, however, suggests a possible ritual burial.

DCI Harry Nelson is called in, as is forensic archaeologist, Ruth Galloway who is, unbeknownst to Nelson, pregnant with his child after a single night’s intimacy. They must solve the mystery of the skeleton as well as protect Ruth from an escalating threat.

Although I enjoyed Griffith’s first book, “The Crossing Places,” this second entry to the series is so much better. I didn’t care for a revelation and open thread at the end of the first book, but it carried over and became a very effective element to the plot of this story.

Ruth is still a wonderful character but, thankfully, less weight and age obsessed and Nelson is more human. Where the relationship between them could have been trite, it worked because of Griffith’s voice and the structure of Ruth’s character. We learn more about the two main characters, giving them greater dimensionality. I particularly enjoyed that Ruth is an academic who doesn’t know Latin. Griffiths balances these characters with well-drawn supporting characters.

I always appreciate the inclusion of poetry and literary quotations within the story as well as the historic, mythological and religious information. It is a skillful author who can both teach and entertain, and Griffiths does it beautiful. I think part of the reason it works so well is, again, the author’s voice.

Not only does she create excellent dialogue, but there is a delightful humor to her writing that particularly appeals to me. However, in addition, is a cracking good plot and a sense of menace that escalates in tension and suspense to a very satisfying conclusion.

I am so glad I was willing to try the first book, trusted enough to read this, the second book, and I am now very much looking forward to Griffith’s next book.

THE JANUS STONE (Unl. Inves/For. Arch/Ruth Galloway-England-Cont) – VG+
Griffiths, Elly – 2nd in series
Quercus, ©2010, UK Hardcover – ISBN: 9781849161589
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