The Janus Stone Monday, May 30 2011 

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.

A

The Great Hockey Rink in the Sky Monday, Mar 31 2008 

Auntie M has just returned from the wilds of the midwest, visiting her 4 Grands and far too many hockey rinks…where she picked up a stomach flu…in the middle of a hockey tournament (I leave the details to your imagination, but trust me, the ladies room is NOT like yours at home)…which the 16 mos old had two days later.  Reminded me why younger people have babies,  as I did those three baths and changes of clothes in one 8AM to 1 PM shift when Mom was teaching.  Since 3 of 4 Grands plus Mom play hockey ( you are in serious trouble out here if you don’t), and  since hot chocolate wouldn’t stay down, it was not my favorite part of the trip.  But I digress.

Being around children who remind me of the natural curiosity and wonder of this world is  worth a few trips to the ice rink.   Taking a trip to the bookstore was my favorite outing.  Along with Green Girl of Wisconsin’s blog last week, I agree that there are plenty of non-fiction books that rival those of the storied kind.  My 7 yr old g-dtgr. asked for The Dangerous Book for Girls for her May birthday, and you know it’s coming to her.  9 yr old g-son is reading a series where he can design his own ending for the book!   That they are all in love with books is a real delight to this Nana.  Reading aloud the original Peter Pan, chapter one, the G’s were astounded to find that “Nana” was the Darling children’s dog nanny.  Score one for this Nana.

We also took the three bigs to see “Horton” and where else can a couple laugh with delight at an animated movie with abandon unless they are surrounded by the kids the movie is designed for.  Too loud, a pet peeve of mine at cinema’s, but well done.

I did manage to reada few by Claire Curzon, the Mike Yeading series, and R. M. Kinder’s An Absolute Gentleman, which neatly illustrates everything you wanted to know inside the mind of an academic serial killer, as opposed to the purely sociopathic one of the Dexter novels.  Which is coming on CBS tonight.  So if you want to wander around for a bit with a serial killer, read either or the above or tune in at 10Pm EST.  You just can’t make this stuff up.

On the road again… Thursday, Mar 13 2008 

Auntie M and her Silver Fox, not to be confused with Green Girl’s own Wisconsin Silver Fox, are headed out to the great Midwest to visit our Grands.  The four youths in question range in age from 9 to1 1/2 and provide us with an endless supply of hugs, giggles and laughs, not to mention stories to read on four different levels, and at this time of year, hockey games to see.  We will go to swimming lessons and gymnastics lessons, ride bikes and visit the park.  We will also get tons of sloppy baby kisses and keep the Chunkey Monkey toddler out of things he shouldn’t be in, like the freezer.  In short, a grandparents dream time.

Although I notice as they age that I need more time to recoup when I get back from these visits…one of us must be getting older…I wouldn’t trade these visits for anything.  The undying affection of your grandchildren is right up there with the unconditional love your pets give you.  They are always glad to see you, even if they do suspect there just may be a present hidden in your luggage.

Most of all, I love how they retrain me to look at things in wonder and awe, from a new and different perspective, or from an eye that is untarnished with cares of life.  These visits help me to connect with my inner child, stimulate my creativity, and remind me how children really talk when I’m writing dialog.  And at the end of the day, when they get cranky or irritable, hey,  their Mom or Dad steps in and I slip into the background.  Pure bliss.  And nothing smells as good as the back of baby’s neck, right up there with puppy breath~

Pamela J Castrucci

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