Picking up The Janus Stone was such a relief – I was reading natural English with a sense of place that made me feel fully at home again. It was after the Victorian style of The Princess and Curdie and an odd teen book, so you have to forgive my bias.
Strange events on an archaeological dig, a child’s skeleton unearthed in a city redevelopment, and ghosts from the past haunting all the protagonists. It’s a lovely mixture for the second of the Ruth Galloway mysteries – with the underlying problem that will thread through future books, of Ruth’s pregnancy and the relationship with the (married) father.
Elly Griffiths manages to combine archaeology, crime and sociological drama in such a fluent style that I despair of ever writing a decent sentence. The characters are real, even the ones that seem over the top are based on real English eccentricity. The twists in the family trees, the turn of the classy lip, the collision with Potter Heigham Bridge in the fog… they all felt real and familiar, although I must admit I thought the boat was going to have its top sheared off, not just a bit of a bump.
These books are set in my local territory, and they feel really cosy. Whether it works if you don’t know the area – well, I think they do; they are evocative and well-described (Victorian icing on a medieval cake does Norwich Castle perfectly). I will continue to work my way through the Ruth Galloway books, and I recommend them to anyone who likes cosy mysteries with a robust protagonist who has a real job to do in the investigation!
A Local Heroes Challenge read: I bought this book last August after enjoying the Crossing Places.