The Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths #1 The Crossing Places and #2 The Janus Stone

One of my few goals for 2023 is to read the entire Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths in order as I have only previously read a few books in random order. Here are extracts from and my thoughts on the first two.

EXCERPT: Then she hears it. A sound outside her window. A pause, a muffled cough and then, unmistakably, footsteps, coming closer and closer. She listens, her heart thumping with such huge, irregular beats that she wonders if she is going to have a coronary, right here on the spot. The knock on the door makes her cry out with fear. It has come. The creature from the night. The beast. The terror. She thinks of The Monkey’s Paw and the unnamed horror that waits at the door. She is shaking so much that she drops her wine glass. The knock again. A terrible, doom-laden sound, echoing through the tiny house. What is she going to do? Should she ring Nelson? Her phone is across the room, by the sofa, and the idea of moving suddenly seems impossible. Is this it? Is she going to die, here in her cottage with the wind howling outside?

ABOUT ‘THE CROSSING PLACES’: Forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway is in her late thirties and lives happily alone with her two cats in a bleak, remote area near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants—not quite earth, not quite sea. But her routine days of digging up bones and other ancient objects are harshly upended when a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson calls Galloway for help, believing they are the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing a decade ago and whose abductor continues to taunt him with bizarre letters containing references to ritual sacrifice, Shakespeare, and the Bible. Then a second girl goes missing and Nelson receives a new letter—exactly like the ones about Lucy. Is it the same killer or a copycat murderer, linked in some way to the site near Ruth’s remote home?

MY THOUGHTS: I have read various and random books from the wonderful Dr Ruth Galloway mystery series at various times over the years, but never the whole series from beginning to end. So that is what I am now doing, beginning with this, the first in the series.

Elly Griffiths doesn’t waste any time introducing her characters – we meet Ruth and Nelson and are thrown into the mystery from the very first page.

I love Ruth’s character. Although outwardly she is a successful lecturer and archeologist, independent and respected, inwardly she is subject to the same self-doubt we all have. Is she too fat? Is she ever going to fall in love again? Should there be more to her life?

Nelson, whom Ruth is also meeting for the first time on the first page, comes across as taciturn and grumpy, yet he is a man who has never given up on the ten year old case of the missing child, Lucy Downey. He definitely has a soft, caring side, it’s just not on display often.

There are numerous other interesting characters – Cathbad (Michael Malone), a mysterious and all-knowing Druid, in his flowing purple cape. He is the antithesis to the solid, practical Nelson, who doesn’t have time for all this mumbo-jumbo. Shona is Ruth’s best friend, and is always in love with someone unsuitable, currently a married man. Ruth is her shoulder to cry on, her sounding board, her rock. But Shona is always there to support Ruth, too. While Ruth may sometimes envy Shona her careless beauty and ability to love freely, she also knows that Shona’s lifestyle is not one she could live.

The setting on the salt marshes is very atmospheric. The desolation is added to by the archeological stories, and myths and legends of sacrifice woven into the storyline. The slightly unusual title of this book is very apt and well explained.

The plot is engrossing with more than one mystery and Ruth’s past coming back to encroach on her present life.

I really love that at the end of the book is a ‘who’s who of all the main characters.

I already have the second book in this series, The Janus Stone, lined up to read.

FAVOURITE QUOTES: ‘When she bought the cats her mother asked her straight out if they were ‘baby substitutes’. ‘No’ Ruth had answered, straight-faced. ‘They’re kittens. If I had a baby it would be a cat substitute.’

‘If you wanted to make a map of your sitting room for archeologists of the future, what would be the most important thing?’
‘Er…making sure I have a full inventory of objects.’
He had laughed. ‘No, no. Inventories are all very well in their place but they do not tell us how people lived, what was important to them, what they worshipped. No, the most important thing would be the direction. The way the chairs were facing. That would show archeologists of the future that the most important object in the twenty-first century home was the large grey rectangle in the corner.’


#TheCrossingPlaces #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @ellygriffiths17 @quercusbooks

T: @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks

EXCERPT: When Nelson is asked what is the worst thing about being a policeman, he sometimes answers ‘the smell’. It is partly meant as a rather grim joke but, in fact, conceals an even grimmer truth. Villains, the feral, rat-like kind, do smell. As a young policeman, Nelson once had to accompany a convicted paedophile from court to prison. Being locked in the back of a van with this scum for a sixty-mile journey was one of the worst experiences of his life. Nelson remembers the man had actually tried to talk to him. Had even, incredible as it seems, wanted to be friendly. ‘Don’t. fucking. talk. to. me.’ Nelson had spat, before they had even reached the outskirts of Manchester. But it is the smell that he remembers most. This man would obviously have had a shower in prison but he absolutely stank: a fetid, rotten smell that reeked of unwashed clothes, windowless rooms, of fear and unspeakable obsession. When he got home that night, Nelson had washed and showered three times but sometimes, even today, he can still smell it. The stench of evil.

Places smell too. The downstairs loo where he once found the body of a little girl, murdered by her mother; the garbage-strewn back street where he saw a colleague stabbed to death; the desolate beach where he and Ruth unearthed the body of another dead girl. There may not have been an actual smell but there was something in the air, heaviness, a sense of secrecy and of things left to fester and rot.

And Nelson had smelt it on that building site. No matter how many years had passed since that little body was buried beneath the floorboards, the smell was still there. It’s a murder scene; Nelson is sure of it.

ABOUT ‘THE JANUS STONE’: It’s been only a few months since archaeologist Ruth Galloway found herself entangled in a missing persons case, barely escaping with her life. But when construction workers demolishing a large old house in Norwich uncover the bones of a child beneath a doorway—minus its skull—Ruth is once again called upon to investigate. Is it a Roman-era ritual sacrifice, or is the killer closer at hand?

Ruth and Detective Harry Nelson would like to find out—and fast. When they realize the house was once a children’s home, they track down the Catholic priest who served as its operator. Father Hennessey reports that two children did go missing from the home forty years before—a boy and a girl. They were never found. When carbon dating proves that the child’s bones predate the home and relate to a time when the house was privately owned, Ruth is drawn ever more deeply into the case.

But as spring turns into summer it becomes clear that someone is trying very hard to put her off the trail by frightening her, and her unborn child, half to death.

MY THOUGHTS: What can I say? I love this character driven series. Every book written gives the reader a few more nuggets of information about the characters. Ruth has, in the past, been part of a team identifying bodies from the mass graves in Bosnia. Nelson may have a short fuse at work, but at home he’s a pussycat. Michael Malone, or Cathbad in his Druid persona, is employed as a lab assistant in the chemistry department of the university. Judy Johnson is a bookie’s daughter.

I am particularly fond of Cathbad. Judy and Cloughie play a larger role in The Janus Stone than in the previous book. I love that Ruth accepts her body and doesn’t feel the need to try to attain the body of a model. Nelson is conflicted by his feelings for Ruth. She intrigues him. He has never met a woman like her.

Although this is a character driven novel, there’s plenty of action and several mysteries spanning the centuries. I love the history, myths and legends that are seamlessly woven into the storyline.

I have already read the next book in the series, The House at Sea’s End, but I am looking forward to reading it again.
My favourite quote: ‘I’m not mad . . . I’ve got a first in classics from Cambridge.’


#TheJanusStone #WaitomoDistrictLibrary

I: @ellygriffiths17 @quercusbooks

T: @ellygriffiths @QuercusBooks

THE AUTHOR: Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly’s husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Waitomo District Library for the loan of The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths for review. All opinions expressed in these review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Instagram and my webpage

Author: sandysbookaday

I love good quality chocolate. I love the ocean and love to be in, on or beside it. I read any and every where. I am a proud mum and Nana. I like wine, gin, Southern Comfort, a cold Heineken on a hot day. I am very versatile like that. I cross stitch, do jigsaws, garden, and work on a farm. I am an occasional scribbler. I have far too many books I want to read to ever find the time to die. I am an active member of Goodreads as Sandy *the world could end while I was reading and I would never notice* and review on Amazon under the name Sandyj21. My Goodreads reviews are automatically linked to my Facebook page. Groups I belong to and participate in on Goodreads include: The Mystery, Crime and Thriller Group; Mysteries and Crime Thrillers; Psychological Thrillers; Reading for Pleasure; Crime Detective Mystery Thrillers; English Mysteries; Dead Good Crime; Kindle English Mystery, All About Books and NZ Readers. April 2016 I made the Top 1% of Goodreads reviewers (As follows) Hello Sandy *The world could end while I was reading and I would never notice*, In our community of readers, you stand out in a notable way: You're one of the top 1% of reviewers on Goodreads! With every rave and every pan, with every excited GIF and every critical assessment, you've helped the Goodreads community get closer to a very important milestone – the 50 Million Reviews mark!

8 thoughts on “The Ruth Galloway series by Elly Griffiths #1 The Crossing Places and #2 The Janus Stone”

  1. I have a few of Elly Griffiths books on my bookshelves at home and do plan to read this series. You have given me a little push to finally pick them up. I think I have read one along the way at some point. Great reviews, Sandy and I’m glad they are so enjoyable for you. 📚💞😃

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your prayers Susan. I never read a thing while he was in hospital. I seemed to chase my tail the whole time. Plus I couldn’t concentrate. He came home yesterday so hopefully life will settle down a bit over the next few weeks. Unfortunately they have found more cancer and he is facing more surgery in the next 4 – 6 weeks. They just want to let what they have done so far, settle before they go in again. 🤗🤗🤗🤗❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Woman, you have me addicted again! Great reviews. I have read four of the series in order and now this is a series I want to tackle again. Hoping 2023 will be the year I am caught up with Ruth and Nelson.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: