Monday, October 14, 2019

Reading Report: The Janus Stone

The Janus Stone
Written by Elly Griffiths
First published 2010
337 pages, Kindle edition

Lately I really haven't been very faithful about posting reviews or reading reports here on the blog. I've posted reviews in other places, but not here — for some reason. And I regret that. I like to use my book blog as a record of what I've read and what I thought about it. So I'm going to try to play a bit of catch-up over the next week or so, and write a few words about some of the books I've read during this past year. Probably won't try to keep to chronological order, but I'm starting with one I did read back in January — The Janus Stone, by Elly Griffiths.

In the book, archaeologist Ruth Galloway, a forensics expert in Norfolk (England), gets called in to investigate when builders uncover the bones of a child in an area they're excavating for a new development. The headless skeleton has been buried beneath a doorway, in a fashion that suggests it could have been a ritual sacrifice. DCI Harry Nelson — someone Ruth has worked with in the past — must find out if this was indeed some sort of religious ritual, or straightforward murder. And he asks Ruth to help with the case.

The Janus Stone is the second book in Elly Griffiths' series of Ruth Galloway mysteries, and I should say right away that (as usual) I haven't read the first book of the series. Still, overall I enjoyed The Janus Stone quite a lot, although I definitely would have benefited from having read book number one first. There was a lot of to-do in this book about the goings-on in that earlier book and occasionally I felt a little lost. Not the author's fault, of course — it's always best to start reading a series at the beginning. My bad.

As I said, it was reasonably enjoyable, with a decent amount of suspense and atmosphere. And I liked the fact that Ruth is an adult with some life experiences behind her, and isn't portrayed as a raving beauty. She's quirky and enjoys her relatively solitary existence in a remote cottage with only her cats for company.

The one thing that really turned me off (and kept this from being a 4-star read) was the way Ruth's pregnancy and who the father might be becomes the main emphasis of the book about midway through. (**Sorry, but that's really not a spoiler: her "condition" is announced very early in the narrative.**) Well, that's the trouble with most books about expectant mothers: How can the coming event NOT be the most important thing in their lives? Which would have been OK if this hadn't been a whodunnit. In a thriller you really want the focus on the crime and its investigation. Baby bumps just get in the way.

Rating: ★★★


Qualifies for the following reading challenges:

2019 Calendar of Crime Challenge.
2019 Cloak and Dagger Challenge.
2019 Good Reads Challenge.

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