RogerBW's Blog

The Janus Stone, Elly Griffiths 05 December 2022

2010 mystery, second in the series. After the events of the first book, Ruth Galloway is pregnant, and not quite sure how to tell anyone (particularly the father). Oh, and there's another archaeology-related crime to solve.

It's a body found on a city centre site that's about to be turned into yuppie flats, but once basic questions of dating are resolved, it looks more like mid 20th century than the Iron Age that's Ruth's preferred period. Was it related to the decaying family house? Or the children's home that was moved in when it was sold? Neither is going to look good, but surely that won't be her problem. Until someone starts threatening her, and perhaps even trying to scare her to death.

This is definitely more of the "novel with some mystery trappings" form than the "mystery novel" one ­ though it's not trying to be in the literary novel genre either. There are angsty relationships, and tentative attempts to build connections, and prejudices which may or may not turn out to be relevant. Until the action of the finale, progress on the case is very slow, and sometimes stops completely. There are welcome touches of humour.

Nelson has a police diver on hand to climb down into the well. He is wearing a safety harness and is attaching a rope to a grappling hook.

‘Why a diver?’ asks Ruth. ‘There's no water there now.’

‘We can't be sure of that,’ says Nelson. ‘Because he's insured and we don't actually have a police wishing-well division.’

It's still good stuff, perhaps not for the mystery purist, but a thoroughly engaging novel of people who happen to be connected with a murder (or perhaps more than one).

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Previous in series: The Crossing Places | Series: Ruth Galloway | Next in series: The House at Sea's End

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