Wednesday, April 30, 2014

THE JANUS STONE by Elly Griffiths

Elly Griffiths' the Janus Stone is another of the author's mystery, almost horror, stories.

Forensic anthropologist Ruth Galloway is pregnant out of wedlock.

Galloway's pregnancy sets her up to be murdered.

The story begins when anthropologists find the bones of a headless young child. Later Ruth finds the skull in a covered-over wishing well.

She also finds the skull of a decapitated cat. The cat's skeleton rests on the same site.

There are all kinds of possibilities. The site had a huge mansion which once housed an orphan's home.

Maybe the saintly priest who started the home was an abuser. Maybe the murder goes back to before the children's home. Or maybe it has to do with something else altogether.

Whoever killed the child buried the body under a doorway, an entrance, a place guarded by Janus, the Roman god of beginnings and endings.

Along the way, Ruth struggles with when to tell the married father of her child that he is a father. She feels supported by colleagues. When she might be killed, the police protect her. But still she struggles.

Ruth Galloway doesn't solve the crimes alone. In that way, the book is like a police procedural. The group as a whole helps solve the crime.

Griffiths' the Janus Stone ends as the last Ruth Galloway novel did, with exciting events. Ruth is stronger than she might have thought she could be, but she faces terror along the way.

Ruth lives in an isolated place on the lonely dunes of the Norfolk Coast of England. She goes unaccompanied to isolated places where she virtually invites attack. Either she is more than fearless or she lacks common sense. (I suspect the latter.)

I could feel the attacks coming. I wondered why Ruth didn't feel the danger too.

The book's strong portrayal of human feelings and its well-plotted, exciting story made up for whatever Ruth's weaknesses might be.

I see the Ruth Galloway mysteries as I would a well-plotted and fascinating TV series.

Now that I've found Ruth Galloway, I always look forward to the next episode in her story.  

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