Forensics Expert Ruth Galloway is called in to investigate when builders, demolishing a large old house in Norwich, uncover the skeleton of a child - minus the skull - beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder?
The house was once a children's home. DCI Harry Nelson meets the Catholic priest who used to run it. He tells him that two children did go missing forty years before - a girl and a boy. They were never found.
When carbon dating proves that the child's bones predate the children's home, Ruth is drawn more deeply into the case. But as spring turns to summer it becomes clear that someone is trying very hard to put her off the scent by frightening her half to death.
Having previously read the first in this series, The Crossing Places, which I enjoyed enormously, I was very keen to read The Janus Stone and continue with the story of Ruth Galloway. This was equally enjoyable and I loved that the book picks up pretty much straight after the first book and this provided a marvelous continuity to the story.
Ruth is a wonderful character. Her personal concerns are easy to identify with. She is a cat loving, overweight single woman and thinks about life in the same way that you or I might. The other characters are also realistically drawn - DCI Nelson is as down to earth a character as you could ever hope to read about and I loved the descriptions of Ruth's born-again Christian parents and her Druid friend, Cathbad. Every one of Elly Griffiths characters were well drawn and I felt like I understood each one of them.
I also loved the plot and read the whole book in a couple of sittings which is something I rarely do. It moves along at a good pace but I would not call it a page turner. Rather it was a book to be read and enjoyed without the frenzied pace that many crime thrillers have.
I have already ordered the next book in this series, The House at Sea's End, and am looking forward to reading it and getting to know the characters even better. I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy crime fiction or archaeology.
ISBN: 978 1849162296
Publisher: Quercus Books
Price (based on today price for the paperback at Amazon.co.uk): £6.39
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.
She has two children and lives near Brighton.