What follows is the narrative of ever-deepening and increasingly bizarre divinations that will lead this gifted young woman, the struggling single mother of twin boys, hurtling toward a past she’d long since thought was behind her. The Diviner’s Tale is at once a journey of self-discovery and an unorthodox murder mystery, a tale of the fantastic and a family chronicle told by an otherwise ordinary woman.
When Cassandra’s dark forebodings take on tangible form, she is forced to confront a life spiraling out of control. And soon she is locked in a mortal chess match with a real-life killer who has haunted her since before she can remember.
The Janus Stone begins with Ruth Galloway, an archaelogist, being sent to a dig in Norwich where some old bones, apparently without a skull, have been unearthed from beneath an ancient mound thought to be the remains of the wall of a Roman villa. Not long after that, in a nearby town, the bones of a child ~ also missing its skull ~ are found buried under the front door step of a Victorian mansion that is being demolished to build a fancy hotel, and Ruth is called in to investigate that grisly find. Are the bones from a Roman-era ritual sacrifice, or is the killer closer at hand?
The Janus Stone is a follow-up to The Crossing Places, Griffiths’s first mystery, which I confess I have not yet read. (Based on how good the second book is, I'll be remedying that little oversight as soon as I can.) I think it would have been better had I read the first book in the series before starting the second. The relationship between Ruth and the investigating detective D.I. Harry Nelson is a developing one and, I suspect, would have been better understood had I been with them from the inception. The mystery itself, of course, is fine on its own and, despite not having read the first, I'm really enjoying it.
Still, if you are new to this author, I urge you to begin at the beginning, with The Crossing Places. This works out well, since The Janus Stone won't be available for another six months.