Dr Ruth Galloway’s forensic skills are called upon when builders, demolishing an old house in Norwich, uncover the bones of a child – minus the skull – beneath a doorway. Is it some ritual sacrifice or just plain straightforward murder? Ruth links up with DCI Harry Nelson to investigate.
The house was once a children’s home. Nelson traces the Catholic priest who used to run the place. He tells him that two children did go missing 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 desperate to put her off the scent by frightening her to death.
I’ve been catching up on my TBR pile recently, and one crime series I’ve been looking forward to returning to is the Dr Ruth Galloway books by Elly Griffiths. In the second book The Janus Stone Ruth finds herself in an unexpected position, but not an unwanted one. Once again she becomes involved in a disturbing investigation.
Ruth’s specialty lies in bones, she is soon called upon when builders make an unsettling discovery. The remains of a child have been found during the demolition of an old house in Norwich. It prompts Ruth and the police to think that a ritualistic killing may have taken place. The police now have a decades old case on their hands and as they get closer to finding out the truth of what happened to the child, it puts Ruth and Harry’s lives in danger, someone is desperate to stop the truth from getting out.
Ruth is a character who I am really beginning to like. She isn’t someone who will go out of her way to impress people, and this is something I really like about her personality. Her relationship with her parents in this book is rocky. They are born again Christians, but they follow the religion as though they are living in the Dark Ages. Ruth lives alone on the Norfolk marshes with her cat, Flint, and has very few neighbours; it may seem isolated, but this is what Ruth likes and the view she gets more than makes up for the isolation. One character who she regularly sees is Cathbad, who is a quirky and fascinating person; he is very attached to myths and ancient rituals. I love this location and I could easily picture it in my mind as I was reading. It is very atmospheric.
The mystery that the police are investigating is an intriguing one. As it is a historical crime, it doesn’t make things easier for them, and they have to rely solely on witness statements, from people who were are around at the time, and there aren’t many who are still alive.
There are quite a few twists in this book, which surprised me. There were also some very tense scenes and I’m sure if I was watching this on the screen, I would have been covering my eyes, as I feared what was going to happen to the characters. I love the way how Elly Griffiths writes, her writing is very readable and it pulled me into the story and into her characters’ lives very quickly.
Ruth is a character who I can’t wait to find out more about. I already have the next book lined up and waiting on my shelf. I was kept hooked until the very last page.
Publication date: 29th July 2010
Print length: 337 pages