Sunday, August 14, 2011

Ruth Galloway Mysteries: The Crossing Places & The Janus Stone

This is a new series of mysteries by Elly Griffiths.  They feature forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway.  The first book The Crossing Places came out in 2009.

Description:  When a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls Galloway for help. Nelson thinks he has found the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing ten years ago. Since her disappearance he has been receiving bizarre letters about her, letters with references to ritual and sacrifice.

The bones actually turn out to be two thousand years old, but Ruth is soon drawn into the Lucy Downey case and into the mind of the letter writer, who seems to have both archaeological knowledge and eerie psychic powers. Then another child goes missing and the hunt is on to find her. As the letter writer moves closer and the windswept Norfolk landscape exerts its power, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory – and in serious danger.

It was followed up this year with The Janus Stone

Description: 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.

I listened to both of these on audiobook.  I thought they were excellent.  I had been on the waiting list for The Crossing Places at the library for months...which is strange for a book that had been out for over a year.  When I was at ALA, they had The Crossing Places and I mentioned to the representative there that I had been on the waiting list for that book.  She said that was the sort of thing they love to hear.  Right after that, I found an audio copy of it at another library so I was pretty happy. 

If you're a fan of mysteries I'd definitely recommend checking these out.  I thought they were both well written and well planned.  The whodunnit was kind of a surprise both times.  I really loved Ruth Galloway.   She's a great main character to build a series around.  Harry Nelson, is another fun character.  After reading the second book I'm very keen to read the next book to see how things are going to turn out for Harry. 

My one little criticism with the books came with the topic of religion.  I'm not a big bible thumper or anything like that, but these books seemed very anti-religion.  No, not anti-religion necessarily, but there's a great deal of discussion about religion so pro and some con.  Personally, I'm Catholic and there was a lot of anti-Catholic sentiment particularly in The Janus Stone.  At times it was a little off putting, but it was educational at the same time.  I had never heard the term "Left Footer" before and had to go find out what it meant.

That was something else I liked about these books as well, they taught you something as you were reading.  There was so much about archaeology and history crammed into these books.  If that's something you like, these books will be perfect for you.

The third book in this series, The House at Sea's End, will be out early next year in the US.   It looks like it's already out in the UK, so kindle readers *may* be able to get it.  I just looked on Amazon and it appears to be available.

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