Title: The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Genre: Mystery Suspense
I received this book as an electronic galley from the publisher via netgalley. This title will be released January 2011.
Synopsis: 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.
Review: This is the 2nd book in the Ruth Galloway series but it truly could stand alone. It references the first book but you don't feel left out or in the dark by not reading it which is nice. Its a fresh take on the whole Kay Scarpetta/ Temperence Brennan theme, forensic anthropologist finds bones, helps police solve the crime. This series is set in England which is also a nice change of scenery from the US or Canada. Filled with celtic folklore, druids, and archeologist sites galore, this book is a fun new entry into this genre.
Ruth Gallloway isn't as accomplished as either Scarpetta or Bones, she isn't the head of any lab, she teaches at the University and is considered an expert but on a more human level. I think thats one of the reasons I liked this book. Ruth isn't superhuman and the one who always saves the day and solves the crime. She has a role in solving the case but its the police who actually do the investigating. Ruth just seems easier to relate to, obsessing about being out of shape, how she is going to handle a baby on her own, dealing with ultra conservative born-again parents, and a best friend who is sleeping with her married boss. The supporting characters are all quirky and interesting each with their own secrets that start to unravel in this book.
In this book Ruth finds herself pregnant after a one night stand with a married man, trying to overcome morning sickness and figure out the origins of the bones of a child found buried in a doorway of a building site. If that isn't enough to handle someone is determined to scare her off this case, leaving gruesome objects for her to find and stalking her at home.
A great book to put on your "to be read" list for 2011.