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The Janus Stone: Ruth Galloway 2 [Format Kindle]

Elly Griffiths
3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)

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Chapter 1

A light breeze runs through the long grass at the top of the hill. Close up, the land looks ordinary, just heather and coarse grass with the occasional white stone standing out like a signpost. But if you were to fly up above these unremarkable hills, you would be able to see circular raised banks and darker rectangles on the grass – sure indications that this land has been occupied many, many times before.
Ruth Galloway, walking rather slowly up the hill, does not need the eagle’s-eye view to know that this is an archaeological site of some importance. Colleagues from the university have been digging on this hill for days and they have uncovered not only evidence of a Roman villa, but of earlier Bronze Age and Iron Age settlements.
Ruth had planned to visit the site earlier but she has been busy marking papers and preparing for the end of term. It is May and the air is sweet, full of pollen and the scent of rain. She stops, getting her breath back and enjoying the feeling of being outdoors on a spring afternoon. The year has been dark so far, though not without unexpected bonuses, and she relishes the chance just to stand still, letting the sun beat down on her face.
She turns and sees a man walking toward her. He is wearing jeans and a work-stained shirt and he treats the hill with disdain, hardly altering his long stride. He is tall and slim, with curly dark hair turning silver at the temples. Ruth recognizes him, as he obviously does her, from a talk he gave at her university several months ago. Dr. Max Grey, from the University of Sussex, an archaeologist and an expert on Roman Britain.
“I’m glad you could come,” he says and he actually does look glad. A change from most archaeologists, who resent another expert on their patch. And Ruth is an acknowledged expert – on bones, decomposition and death. She is head of forensic archaeology at the University of North Norfolk.
“Are you down to the foundations?” asks Ruth, following Max to the summit of the hill. It is colder here and, somewhere high above, a skylark sings.
“Yes, I think so,” says Max, pointing to a neat trench in front of them. Halfway down, a line of grey stone can be seen. “I think we may have found something that will interest you, actually.”
Ruth knows without being told.
“Bones,” she says.
Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson is shouting. Despite having a notoriously short fuse at work (at home with his wife and daughters he is a pussycat), he is not normally a shouter. Brusque commands are more his line, usually delivered on the run while moving on to the next job. He is a man of quick decisions and limited patience. He likes doing things: catching criminals, interrogating suspects, driving too fast and eating too much. He does not like meetings, pointless discussions or listening to advice. Above all, he does not like sitting in his office on a fine spring day trying to persuade his new computer to communicate with him. Hence the shouting.
“Leah!” he bellows.
Leah, Nelson’s admin assistant (or secretary, as he likes to call her), edges cautiously into the room. She is a delicate, dark girl of twenty-five, much admired by the younger officers. Nelson, though, sees her mainly as a source of coffee and an interpreter of new technology, which seems to get newer and more temperamental every day.
“Leah,” he complains, “the screen’s gone blank again.”
“Did you switch it off?” asks Leah. Nelson has been known to pull out plugs in moments of frustration, once blowing all the lights on the second floor.
“No. Well, once or twice.”
Leah dives beneath the desk to check the connections. “Seems okay,” she says. “Press a key.”
“Which one?”
“Surprise me.”
Nelson thumps the space bar and the computer miraculously comes to life, saying smugly, “Good afternoon, DCI Nelson.”
“Fuck off,” responds Nelson, reaching for the mouse.
“I beg your pardon?” Leah’s eyebrows rise.
“Not you,” says Nelson. “This thing. When I want small talk, I’ll ask for it.”
“I assume it’s programmed to say good morning,” says Leah equably. “Mine plays me a tune.”
“Jesus wept.”
“Chief Superintendent Whitcliffe says everyone’s got to familiarize themselves with the new computers. There’s a training session at four today.”
“I’m busy,” says Nelson without looking up. “Got a case conference out Swaffham way.”
“Isn’t that where they’re doing that Roman dig?” asks Leah. “I saw it on Time Team.
She has her back to Nelson, straightening files on his shelves, and so doesn’t see the sudden expression of interest on his face.
“A dig? Archaeology?”
“Yes,” says Leah, turning around. “They’ve found a whole Roman town there, they think.”
Nelson now bends his head to his computer screen. “Lots of archaeologists there, are there?”
“Yes. My uncle owns the local pub, the Phoenix, and he says they’re in there every night. He’s had to double his cider order.”
“Typical,” grunts Nelson. He can just imagine archaeologists drinking cider when everyone knows that bitter’s a man’s drink. Women archaeologists, though, are another matter.
“I might have a look at the site on my way back,” he says.
“Are you interested in history?” asks Leah disbelievingly.
“Me? Yes, fascinated. Never miss an episode of Sharpe.
“You should be on our pub quiz team then.”
“I get too nervous,” says Nelson blandly, typing in his password with one finger: Nelson1. He’s not one for ambiguity. “Do me a favour, love, make us a cup of coffee, would you?”
Swaffham is a picturesque market town, the kind Nelson drives through every day without noticing. A few miles outside and you are deep in the country – fields waist-high with grass, signposts pointing in both directions at once, cows wandering across the road shepherded by a vacant-looking boy on an all-terrain vehicle. Nelson is lost in seconds and almost gives up before it occurs to him to ask the vacant youth the way to the Phoenix pub. When in doubt in Norfolk, ask the way to a pub. It turns out to be quite near. Nelson does a U-turn in the mud, pulls into a road that is no more than a track and there it is, a low thatched building facing a high, grassy bank. Nelson parks in the pub parking lot and, with a skip of his heart that he does not want to acknowledge as excitement, he recognizes the battered red Renault parked across the road, at the foot of the hill. I just haven’t seen her for a while, he tells himself. It’ll be good to catch up.
He has no idea where to find the dig, or even what it will look like, but he reckons he’ll be able to see more from the top of the bank. It’s a beautiful evening; the shadows are long on the grass and the air is soft. But Nelson does not notice his surroundings; he is thinking of a bleak coastline, of bodies washed out to sea by a relentless tide, of the circumstances in which he met Ruth Galloway. She had been the forensic archaeologist called in when human bones were found on the Saltmarsh, a desolate spot on the North Norfolk coast. Though those bones had turned out to be more than two thousand years old, Ruth had subsequently become involved in a much more recent case, that of a five-year-old girl, abducted, believed murdered. He hasn’t seen Ruth since the case ended three months ago.
At the top of the hill he can see only more hills. The only features of interest are some earthworks in the distance and two figures walking along the top of the bank, which curves around like a wall: one a brown-haired woman in loose, dark clothes, the other a tall man in mud-stained jeans. A cider drinker, he’ll be bound.
“Ruth,” calls Nelson. He can see her smile; she has a remarkably lovely smile, not that he would ever tell her so.
“Nelson!” She looks good too, he thinks, her eyes bright, her cheeks pink with exercise. She hasn’t lost any weight though and he realizes that he would have been rather disappointed if she had.
“What are you doing here?” asks Ruth. They don’t kiss or even shake hands but both are grinning broadly.
“Had a case conference nearby. Heard there was a dig here.”
“What, are you watching Time Team now?”
“My favourite viewing.”
Ruth smiles skeptically and introduces her companion. “This is Dr. Max Grey from Sussex University. He’s in charge of the dig. Max, this is DCI Nelson.”
The man looks surprised. Nelson himself is aware that his title sounds incongruous in the golden evening, with the birds swooping overhead and the smell of hay in the air. Crime happens, even here, Nelson tells Max Grey silently. Academics are never keen on the police. But Dr. Grey manages a smile.
“Are you interested in archaeology, DCI Nelson?”
“Sometimes,” says Nelson cautiously. “Ruth . . . Dr. Galloway . . . and I worked on a case together recently.”
“That affair on the Sa...

Revue de presse

'The setting is enticingly atmospheric. I closed the book wanting to know more... as well as feeling the satisfaction that a really intelligent murder story can give' Independent. --Review.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 3423 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 337 pages
  • Editeur : Quercus (29 juillet 2010)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B004EYT54K
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (3 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°67.419 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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3.0 étoiles sur 5
3.0 étoiles sur 5
Commentaires client les plus utiles
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
1.0 étoiles sur 5 Rarement autant ennuyée 26 septembre 2013
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Je me suis rarement autant ennuyée en lisant un soi-disant thriller. Est-ce que le fait que cette Ruth soit enceinte d'un homme marié a vraiment un rapport avec les recherches objet de l'histoire ? Est-ce que le nombre et les circonstances de ses nausées et vomissements doivent être détaillés de la sorte dans un thriller qui devrait poursuivre un autre objectif qu'un roman à l'eau de rose ? L'histoire telle quelle ne commence que très tard et lentement, mais sans créer un intérêt grandissant. Le "who dunnit" est traité tout à la fin de manière très condensée et n'a plus aucun intérêt.
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2 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 une impression d'insatisfaction 28 août 2010
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
"The Janus Stone" est le premier roman d'Elly Griffiths que je lis, attirée par l'aspect thriller mâtiné d'archéologie et de rites anciens. Je dois néanmoins reconnaître que si le livre appartient bien au genre dont il se réclame, j'ai eu une impression de frustration à sa lecture.

L'intrigue en quelques mots: Ruth Galloway, expert judiciaire et archéologue, est sollicitée lorsque des entrepreneurs découvrent le corps décapité d'un enfant sous un portique. La découverte du corps est-elle liée à la disparition de deux enfants d'une maison d'accueil il y a plusieurs décennies ? Au fil de l'enquête, il devient de plus en plus évident qu'encore aujourd'hui, quelqu'un essaie de dissimuler la vérité, un monstre obsédé par les rites anciens et dont Ruth semble bien être devenue la cible.

L'ensemble n'est pas mauvais mais à mon sens un peu trop ordinaire, malgré les quelques informations culturelles distillées çà et là. L'écriture est relativement banale, le style un peu trop dénudé à mon goût (par exemple, un chapitre commence par "Ruth is at Woolmarket Street.", ou encore "Sunday afternoon in a King's Lynn suburb.", sans la moindre recherche ou construction un peu plus littéraire). De même, le thriller était qualifié de "bone-chilling", je ne peux pas dire que j'aie beaucoup frémi, sans compter que l'ensemble manque un peu de plausibilité -ce qui peut être compensé par d'autres aspects mais pas ici.

En résumé, pas mauvais mais ne brille pas ni par sa qualité ni par son originalité malgré un contenu prometteur. Je n'ai pas passé un mauvais moment mais dans le genre, je vous conseillerais plutôt "Haunted Ground" de Erin Hart ou encore S.J. Bolton.
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0 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I loved it 5 novembre 2010
The skeleton of a child is discovered in a trench by archeologists.
The case seems easy to solve as it seems that the bones are very old.
But that is a bit more complicated and the case become darker after every chapter.
I liked also the atmosphere of the book: a mix of old legends and an investigation in modern times.
Moreover I liked the main character - Ruth Galloway - who seems to be so "normal" with her weight problem and
her love affairs. Her reactions were even funny sometimes.
I found it easy to read in English: well written, no slang...
I will certainly read other books of this author.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  215 commentaires
25 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Griffiths' talent for suspense doesn't disappoint 5 novembre 2010
Par Cynthia Jacox - Publié sur Amazon.com
Elly Griffiths has crafted an engaging mystery that keeps the reader in suspense to the very end. The tale begins when a child's headless skeleton is discovered by archaeologists, sparking a police investigation that attempts to identify the victim and murderer. The setting is the Norfolk coast of Great Britain, so the reader is treated to English geographical references and colloquialisms that add an element of charm to the story. The cast of characters is delightful: a spunky female forensic archaeologist who is dealing with the dilemma of an unwed pregnancy, the brusque Detective Chief Inspector on the case who just happens to be the father of her baby, members of a prominent, wealthy family as well as Catholic clergy that have ties to the site of the archaeological dig, and an array of quirky intellectuals fascinated by ancient mythology. This was my first exposure to Elly Griffiths' work, as I won this book from Goodreads.com, and I am definitely motivated to read her previous novel as well.
24 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 A Tale of Two Genres 27 décembre 2010
Par Archie Mercer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
The Janus Stone, Elly Griffiths' second Ruth Galloway mystery, is a great whodunit for the most part. This was my introduction to the series, having not read her first installment The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway), and can say I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery part of the story. My only issue is the author in trying to develop the characters in to more complex people strayed into almost turning it into a soap opera. There were a few times in the story where that got a bit annoying.

Galloway is a forensic archaeologist whose expertise is called upon when bodies turn up on digs. At these times she teams up with Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson to determine how old the bones are and who they belong to. For mystery fans there is a lot to like here. The author throws quite a few suspects out for our review without ever pointing the finger too strongly at one in particular. There are many twists and turns as someone tries to scare Galloway off the investigation. Finally when the culprit is revealed we are then treated to an exciting and somewhat satisfying ending. One thing I really like is the author does not just focus on Galloway and Nelson as the only two individuals smart enough to figure the mystery out. From the members of Nelson's team (Clough, July & Tanya), to Max Field (in charge of the dig), to a druid named Cathbad, all at times had revelations that led to solving the puzzle. It really makes it a fascinating and enjoyable read.

What is keeping me from rating this at five stars is, again, the soap opera feel that pops in too many times. Ruth Galloway is pregnant (revealed on page 18) and has not told the father who, of course, is married. Since she is single her parent's have all but disowned her. This theme runs in-and-out throughout the book with even the birth father's wife getting involved without realizing her husband is responsible. While this sub-plot is used as part of the exciting finale it still tends to push the story from mystery to romance at inopportune times. At times it takes away for the hard edge of the story, in my opinion.

Since I enjoyed the mystery immensely I plan to go back and read the first book and will at least look at her upcoming third installment, The House at Sea's End. Elly Griffiths. With a few minor reservation I would recommend this to those who love a good mystery.
21 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Lacks the vivid landscape of THE CROSSING PLACES 7 décembre 2010
Par "switterbug" Betsey Van Horn - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Commentaire client Vine pour produit gratuit (De quoi s'agit-il?)
I was both charmed and haunted by the first Ruth Galloway mystery, The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway). Griffith's sense of place--the salt marshes of Norwich, England--was stark and moodily disquieting. The land seemed almost anthropomorphic in its presence, and served to heighten the story and even strengthen the weak spots, including her strained and rushed denouement. Ruth, a Ph.D. anthropologist, is a flawed and frank woman of forty, an unapologetic atheist with a no-nonsense style. In this second installment, she remains steadfast. One of my favorite lines is:

"...God is a made-up fairy tale, like Snow White, only nastier."

And she is now three months pregnant. The father is Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, the taciturn and capable, and generally happily married father of two teenage daughters. In the first novel, Ruth and Harry were thrown together in a case. Bones buried beneath the marshes led to a twisted investigation and one intimate night together, a night where forces almost transcendent brought them together. They did not embark on a continuous affair, and their feelings for each other are blurry. Harry is still a bit of a cynical enigma, but a tender family man.

Now, in the heather and coarse grasses of Swaffham, a university-supported ancient Roman dig site is the primary location for the second team-up of Ruth and Nelson. Bones are again unearthed--this time the headless skeleton of a child of indeterminate age and time. Complicating matters is the necessary interruption of a development project of entrepreneur Edward Sens. He is building a seventy-four-unit luxury apartment complex on this site that was once a Catholic orphanage.

A cat-and-mouse crime thriller ensues, with a variety of new and old characters, including (but not limited to) an elderly Catholic priest, a sexy love interest for Ruth, (he is also an anthropologist), a dying nun, and Cathbad, the Druid, from the first novel. Griffiths balances Ruth's personal story and the criminal investigation with sufficient finesse and wry wit, and there is a tough tension whenever Ruth and Nelson are in the same room or space. However, despite all the back stories of peripheral characters, they don't organically come alive. Griffiths uses too much exposition to tell, more than show, her characters and story. Even Nelson remains archly narrow, but there's hope for his character to develop.

Moreover, the landscape and climate, which was so potent in the first novel, is given short shrift in this one. It is there, and lovely when it is, but more sparing, in small doses. How disappointing, because it was the most moving aspect of the author's talent. THE JANUS STONE is lightly competent, and she has learned to control the plot better this time around, but the pacing is just as rushed. The unfolding is a bit more manageable, less hysterical, but still melodramatic. Griffith's police procedural is just another stone in the river without her earthy, lucid, topographical and climactic inclusions. The archeological parts add color and weight, but sometimes they feel like artifacts to the story, and were more telegraphed than embedded, despite their impact.

I may go back for the third installment, THE HOUSE AT SEAS END. The prologue and first few chapters were included in this book, as a tease. Why am I going back? To see what happens to Ruth and Nelson, of course. And to hope for more vibrant terrain. If I don't see significant improvement and development of character and story, then it will be my last go-round for this series. And if the author kills off Nelson's wife in some tragic accident for convenience, I will put the book down even before I finish it.
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 "Evil can't stay hidden forever." 7 novembre 2010
Par E. Bukowsky - Publié sur Amazon.com
Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist with a special interest in bones, teaches postgraduates at the University of North Norfolk and participates in the occasional dig. She lives with her cat in England's wild, desolate, and beautiful Saltmarsh, but will not be alone for long. She is three months pregnant and plans to keep the baby, even though it will mean raising her son or daughter as a single parent.

In "The Janus Stone," by Elly Griffiths, Ruth is preparing for the end of the school term and spending time with a fellow archaeologist, Dr. Max Grey, an expert on Roman Britain. As Grey informs Ruth and her friend, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, "the Celts and the Romans sometimes used to bury bodies under walls and doors as offerings to the Gods Janus and Terminus." Ruth is called in when the headless skeleton of child is discovered on the site of a luxury apartment complex that is under construction. The body was buried "right under the main doorway." Ruth carefully retrieves and examines the bones, and DCI Nelson of the Serious Crimes Unit takes charge of what will turn out to be a complex and troubling homicide investigation. One individual who may have important information to impart is Father Patrick Hennessey, a retired priest and ex-principal of the Sacred Heart Children's Home, which once stood on the grounds where the small skeleton was found. Once again, Nelson and Ruth will discover that "disturbing the dead [and] meddling with the past" can lead to unforeseen consequences.

Ruth is an immensely appealing protagonist who is unpretentious, resigned to being overweight ("she's never going to look good in a bikini"), highly intelligent, and extremely independent. She has offbeat friends, including a Druid, Cathbad, who sometimes wears a robe and flowing purple cloak, and a flaky university lecturer named Shona, a beautiful woman with a weakness for married men. Ruth is a bit of an amateur detective; she cannot resist the lure of an intriguing case. However, when an anonymous perpetrator threatens her repeatedly, Ruth must decide whether it is time to back off for her own safety.

As in "The Crossing Places," the author depicts her characters skillfully. The dialogue is sharp and witty and the narrative is fast-paced and involving. Griffiths creates evocative settings and provides enough red herrings to keep us guessing. The story's sole weakness is its melodramatic and far-fetched conclusion, during which the psychopath's identity is revealed and a terrified Ruth struggles to keep her wits about her. Aside from this quibble, "The Janus Stone" is an entertaining blend of romance, mythology, mystery, and psychological suspense. Fortunately for Ruth Galloway fans, Elly Griffiths is talented enough to keep her plucky heroine knee-deep in engrossing dilemmas for some time to come.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Many Layer Page-Turning Mystery 5 mars 2010
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Reason for Reading: Next in the series.

Summary: A Victorian home is being pulled down to make way for a luxury apartment building but is stopped due to the finding of Roman remains. As archaeologists work they find a headless skeleton of a child under the doorstep of the home and forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called in for her expertise by DCI Harry Nelson. The house was last used as a Catholic children's home and that sends the investigation in a direction that will not easily bring answers. At the same time someone is literally trying to scare Ruth to death and when that doesn't work perhaps they'll have to get up close and personal to finish off the job.

Comments: I love this series! This book is even better the first, The Crossing Places. This was a fast, page-turner that I read very quickly; I just couldn't put it down. Not only are there several possible suspects there are a few possible choices for the identity of the victim! I only just managed to stay a few pages ahead of each reveal but the final solution is one that you could not possibly see coming from the beginning.

Both Ruth and Harry are back the same as we remembered them from book one, only Ruth is less self-conscious but still her same outspoken, hard-headed, overweight, unfashionable self. For me personally, she is a character I could like ( I want to like) only I have great issues with her moral conduct and Harry's as well, though both of their personal lives take new directions and this is being addressed. I am eager to see where they are each headed personally in the next book. Since the personal life is integral in these books I do recommend reading them in order.

I also was quite taken with the Catholic part of the story. Of course, starting with the investigation into a children's home the usual preconceived prejudices are rampant and several characters are anti-Catholic. But once a retired Sister and Father are introduced as characters the journey of these characters and the Catholic part of the plot which leads to the eventual reconciliation of one of the characters is very satisfying.

Elly Griffiths, pseudonym of Domenica de Rosa, has created a wonderful mystery that is going to appeal to a lot of people. There is plenty of action and forensic detail for thriller fans and yet no gory bits for more cozy mystery fans. The plot has many layers, is quite intricate as it twists and turns upon itself and is a ton of fun to read. I'm glad to have started this series at the beginning and can't wait for the next Ruth Galloway Mystery!
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