Review of KINDLE Ebook The Janus Stone – Book 2 of the Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths #Brainfluffbookreview #TheJanusStonebookreview


I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in this classy series, The Crossing Places – see my review here. As you can see, this was far too long ago – and recently I recalled that this was a series I had intended to continue. I didn’t even have to track it down – we already have The Janus Stone… *blushes*.

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?

I liked the fact that this book takes up the story only a few months after The Crossing Place and a particular plotline is a direct consequence of an encounter between Ruth and another of the main characters. And yes… for once, I’m going to produce a spoiler – during this book, Ruth discovers she is pregnant.

It wasn’t until Ruth is working through the decision whether to continue with her pregnancy and throughout this murder mystery, is coping with the various symptoms, both physical and emotional, that I realised we hardly ever read of pregnant women in crime novels – unless they are the victims. So I was on the edge of my seat throughout, hoping that the pregnancy wouldn’t be a device which would suddenly end midway through the book to provide more vulnerability for our feisty archaeologist.

A main strength of Griffiths’ writing is her characterisation. Ruth is a complex, three-dimensional protagonist, who feels vulnerable about her appearance – she struggles with her weight. And one of the joys of this novel was the collection of other characters, a number who first appeared in the previous book. While Ruth is the main character, there is another protagonist who also drives the action and that is Detective Harry Nelson, who is leading the investigation triggered by discovery of the disturbing skeleton. Though I think my favourite character is Cathbad, whose mysticism is regarded with scepticism by Ruth, although she is fond of him and his knack of turning up when she most needs him.

However, while I enjoyed the writing, the characterisation and the excellent scene setting, I was slightly underwhelmed by the melodramatic nature of the plot. I am definitely going to continue with this series, but while halfway through the book I was confidently expecting to give this book ten stars, I ended up giving it eight due to this aspect of the story.

15 responses »

  1. This is my absolute favorite series of the past several years, and I’ve read them all. I love watching all the characters evolve. I also recently enjoyed Elly Griffith’s standalone, called “The Stranger Diaries.”

  2. Melodrama is ok in certain types of books, but I generally cringe when there’s too much of it. Still, this sounds like an interesting mystery😊

  3. For some reason I thought it was revealed she was pregnant at the end of the first book? I wonder if I just knew she was based off of more recent books and made the assumption? This series is one I’d like to get back to reading. I really love how she develops the characters and the anthropology angle but the melodrama does get a little much sometimes.

    • Ah… it’s a long, long time since I read the first book, so you might be right, Katherine. I am definitely going to read more of this series, too, because I really like Ruth. Despite the melodrama:)

  4. The pregnancy issue has made my following of The Outlier on Netflix very enjoyable. How do you explain to your logical, sensible husband your time-travel disappearance of three years in which you married and became pregnant (and still are pregnant when you come back) when your husband is sterile, and what do you (and he) do? Great story.

  5. I’m not a fan of melodrama so I can definitely understanding knocking off a star or 2 once it veered into that territory. Excellent review though and it sounds like an interesting series.

  6. Shame that the over enthusiastic plotting brought this down a little but it does sound good. And, you’re planning to continue with the series which is a great sign.
    Lynn 😀

    • I hope so, too, Carla! Though I shall soon find out… by some quirk, I am reading no 3 and listening to no 4. I didn’t plan that very well, did I? But I’ll soon know if the melodrama surfaces again!

    • Yes… it’s an interesting series. I absolutely loved the first book, but I do find it oddly uneven. Though as I enjoy the dynamic of a single mother struggling to cope with the demands of her job and bringing up a baby, I’m not tempted to pull away from it.

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