cover image The Janus Stone

The Janus Stone

Elly Griffiths, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-547-23744-2

When a child's headless skeleton turns up during an archeological dig in Griffiths's compelling second Ruth Galloway mystery (after 2010's The Crossing Places), Ruth's determination that the bones are of recent origin spurs her special friend, Det. Chief Insp. Harry Nelson, to investigate the Catholic orphanage run by Fr. Patrick Hennessey that once occupied the Norfolk, England, site. Two children disappeared from the orphanage in 1973, though Ruth's study of the bones suggests that the murderer might have ties not to the orphanage but to the site's Roman's origins. Complicating matters are her pregnancy—the result of a one-night stand with Nelson in Crossing—and an escalating series of dangerous pranks meant to scare her off the case. Griffiths nimbly weaves the mythological aspects of her story—particularly the Roman god Janus, who represents doorways as well as beginnings and endings—with the complicated life of her feisty heroine. (Jan.)