I mentioned earlier that I would review the second Ruth Galloway novel by Elly Griffiths, Janus Stone, and one of my readers said it was good as the first. She was not mistaken.

This time the forensic archaeologist  is called in to investigate when builders demolishing a large ancient house uncover what appears to be the skeleton of a child. Bad enough, but its skull is missing. Found under the doorway, Ruth feels this might be a ritual sacrifice. While gathering her samples, DCI Harry Nelson, he of the complicated relationship with Ruth, becomes involved after it is revealed the bones are not ancient, and that the house was once a children’s home. He sets out to interview the Catholic priest who ran the home, who tells him forty years ago two children went missing, a boy and a girl.

When carbon dating proves the child’s bones are from an earlier period, Ruth maintains her ties to the investigation. She’s drawn more deeply into the case when it becomes obvious someone is trying to frighten her off it. They’re doing a good job of it, for Ruth is pregnant herself, and although she’s thrilled and determined to raise the child alone, is still dealing with telling her parents and friends about the baby, who include the child’s father.

Ruth is a grand creation, someone most women can relate to: an earthy, overweight gal who’s happy her pregnancy gives her a reason to stop trying to lose weight. Some of Ruth’s colleagues from the first novel, The Crossing Places, reappear, and add to Ruth’s wry sense of humor, which make these books a treat to read.

Griffiths does a great job of intertwining the emotional with the plot points and keeps them coming as the tension rises. There was one point at first where I thought she’d taken a jog off into the impossible, but her explanation and Ruth’s reaction to these events make that twist believable, and in the end, reasonable. Of course, that just makes me now anxious to read the third installment, due sooner than Ruth’s baby.

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