I haven’t read many new mystery authors that I’ve been really taken with lately. Elly Griffiths is an exception. The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone are set in an isolated part of England along the east coast. Ruth (or Dr. Galloway), the main protagonist, is a forensic archeologist, which entails investigating and dating old bones – like remains from the Bronze or Iron Age in England.
In The Crossing Places, Griffiths’ first mystery, Ruth is called to a scene on a beach and meets DCI Harry Nelson. The remains turn out to be much older than any case he has going, but he subsequently calls her to other scenes. In The Janus Stone a child’s skeleton is found under the doorway of a former children’s home and Ruth becomes involved in figuring out who this child could be.
The descriptions of the area where Ruth lives, a desolate saltmarsh, are also well done. Having only been to London, it’s interesting to read about a very different part of England. Here she’s walking near her house:
“For about twenty minutes she plods on, head down against the driving rain. Then she stops. She should have reached the gravel path by now. It is almost completely dark, with just a faint phosphorescent gleam coming from the marsh itself. Ruth gets out her torch but its shaky light shows her only flat marshland in all directions. Far off, she can hear the sea roaring as it thunders inland.”
In The Janus Stone Ruth is also dealing with an unexpected pregnancy as she heads out to various sites:
“They climb the hill. Ruth trying to disguise how out of breath she is. Jesus, at this rate she’ll be immobile at nine months.”
I enjoyed the humor throughout the books, even as they’re digging up bones.