Right after I finished reading this book I had drafted a lovely 500-word review (in the Goodreads app) when I suddenly lost the entire thing so I wasn't planning on going to write a full review but I changed my mind because I want to document my thoughts about the series as a whole as I read it.
The Janus Stone is the second book in the popular and long-running Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths. Dr. Galloway is a forensic anthropologist who teaches at the fictional University of Northern Norfolk and lives alone (with a cat or two) in a small cottage on the edge of the marshy waters of the Northern sea. She has helped the police with their inquiries into the discovery of some old bones in the first book of the series, The Crossing Places, and this event was the beginning of her complicated relationship with DCI Harry Nelson. In the sequel, Ruth is again asked to assist the police when a skeleton of a young child and a cat (both missing their heads!) is discovered on a building site where an old house which used to serve as an orphanage is being razed and replaced with condominiums.
Things are even more complicated in The Janus Stone because Ruth has recently discovered she's pregnant, and since she's also very single (happily divorced). The case is also tricky because it seems like someone is deliberately trying to dissuade Ruth from getting involved.
Overall, I liked this second book in the series quite a bit. Ruth (and Nelson) are fun characters, and Griffiths writes them well. As a gay dude, I'm usually loath to combine any taste of romance with my British police procedural/murder mystery but I do feel like Elly Griffiths and Jane Casey are two authors who know how to get the mix, just right. That being sad, I'm not happy about the one of the primary narrative tensions in the book being danger/threat to Ruth. The "damsel in distress" trope is awful. I hope it is not repeated. That being said, Ruth is a strong female character (she's somewhat blase' about her zaftig figure and doesn't really care much about societal norms). The supporting members of the cast are quirky and interesting (if not as diverse as they could be). I'll definitely continue reading the series.
Title: The Janus Stone.
Author: Elly Griffiths.
Paperback: 416 pages.
Date Published: March 1, 2010.
Date Read: July 16, 2020.
GOODREADS RATING: ★★★★☆ (4.0/5.0).
OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.67/4.0).
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