Self’s Third Ruth Galloway

Self loves these books. She brought the first two with her to Northern Ireland (from a stack she’d ordered during the pandemic and never had the time to read). She bought two more when she got to Belfast. Now she’s reading The House at Sea’s End.

Ruth Galloway is now a mother. Her daughter, Kate, is a few months old. She is still juggling work (as a forensic archaeologist and university professor) and motherhood, not to mention fending off the fawning Baby Daddy. This scene is very droll. An acquaintance, Tatjana, drops by unexpectedly for a two-week stay:

. . . the baby, not content to remain snoozing picturesquely in the background, is making a bid for centre stage, cooing and emitting high-pitched yelps like a miniature cheerleader. Ruth thinks she is being rather sweet but she is scared to take her attention off Tatjana for too long. So she sits on the floor with Kate, who is propped up by cushions, occasionally handing her a brightly coloured toy which Kate ignores in favour of chewing the TV remote control. Tatjana has, so far, not looked in Kate’s direction once.

Nelson had stayed only a few minutes, long enough for Tatjana to pronounce him ‘interesting,’ which, Ruth discovers, is her highest term of praise.

“How come you are entertaining a policeman in the afternoon, she asked, raising her eyebrows slightly.

The House at the End of the Sea, p. 137

The Janus Stone: Spoiler Alert!

This book is every bit as good as The Crossing Places. No, it’s actually better. So much funnier! Though the parts told from the murderer’s point of view (thankfully, brief) are gut-churning. Do not read any further if you do not want to know the identity of the murderer! The dialogue is A++.

Ruth screams, so loudly that it startles both of them. Roderick stops and looks at her quizzically.

“Why are you frightened?” he asks.

“What do you think?” shouts Ruth. “I’m stuck here on a boat with a madman. A madman with a knife.”

Roderick looks quite hurt. “I’m not mad,” he says. “I’ve got a first in classics from Cambridge.”

From what Ruth has seen of Oxbridge graduates, the two are not mutually exclusive.

The Janus Stone, p. 287

This conversation follows immediately after a scene where we see DCI Harry Nelson running around like a chicken without a head. Eventually, he figures out (through the timely appearance of Cathbad) that he’s been worried about the wrong daughter. Self wanted to pull her hair out.

Stay tuned.

The Janus Stone: Tanya

Going at a snail’s pace through Book 2 of the Ruth Galloway series, self is enjoying it so much. The last book series she was into was The Expanse (nine books and a TV series), and that was two years ago.

Anyhoo, she is within closing distance of the end, and there’s an annoying policewoman named Tanya who is everything Dr. Ruth Galloway isn’t — young, fit, eager, callow — and she might be having a wee crush on her boss, DCI Harry Nelson, who also happens to be the object of Ruth Galloway’s (unrequited) affection. This series does have angst. Of course, Ruth Galloway doesn’t see her as a threat, and DCI Nelson is too obtuse to recognize Tanya as flirting.

“Sir?”

Tanya’s head appears around his office door. He tries to discourage the rest of her from joining it.

“What is it?”

“I’ve found Annabelle Spens’ dental records.”

This is different. His tiredness vanishes and he rearranges his face into something more welcoming.

“Good work, Tanya. Show me.”

Praise makes Tanya expansive. “Well, it was really you saying about there being some fancy dental work done. I thought, maybe they didn’t get it done locally. So I contacted the London School of Dentistry. They’ve been around since 1911, used to be at the London Hospital but it’s now part of St. Bartholomew’s. Anyway, they had her records. They faxed them over a few minutes ago.”

The Janus Stone, pp. 259 – 260

The Janus Stone: While on a Romantic Date, Ruth . . .

BIG SPOILER ALERT!!! SELF IS WARNING YOU!!! IF YOU THINK SHE IS KIDDING, SHE’S NOT!!!

Ruth’s date for the evening is a fellow archaeologist named Max. For a woman who weighs 14 stone (at least), Ruth Galloway does get around.

Now, Max has invited Ruth onto his boat. It’s a very cozy space, with a bed and a loo and everything.

“Do you have a boyfriend now?”

“No.” Ruth knows that now is the time to tell Max that while she doesn’t have a boyfriend, she does have another, rather permanent, commitment. She hesitates, trying to find the words.

“Ruth,” Max reaches out to touch her hand.

“I’m pregnant,” Ruth blurts out.

“What?” Max sits back. It is dark now and Ruth can’t see the expression on his face.

The Janus Stone, p. 149

Self liked the first book in the series, The Crossing Places, but The Janus Stone is even better.

Stay tuned.

The Janus Stone: Clough

It’s funny how, in a mystery, self always gets more interested in the minor characters. Here she is, on her second Ruth Galloway mystery, going at a good clip (in between writing), and she lands on this conversation between Clough and his boss, Harry Nelson.

This is a very, very good conversation. Until now, she hasn’t paid much attention to Clough. She hopes he’s in the next book, and the next (This series is up to 15 books already, and she’s just discovered it). The mystery goes over well-tread ground (Catholic nuns and priests as suspects in child murders) but it’s the interaction between these two — Harry Nelson and Clough — that makes all the difference.

“That’s what the nun said. It was in Judy’s report. She said Hennessy believed the boy needed ‘love and attention.’ “

Nelson is rather impressed that Clough has remembered this. But then again, it’s a sad world if no one is allowed to love children.

“Maybe he did love them,” he suggests, “in a non-sexual, fatherly way.”

“Jesus,” scoffs Clough, “you’re sounding like a right God-squadder.”

“Rubbish,” says Nelson angrily, pulling out onto the motorway with the minimum of care. “I’m just not jumping to conclusions. Never assume, that’s what my first boss used to say.”

“I know. It makes an ass out of you and me.” Clough looks out of the window. Nelson wonders if he’s getting a bit above himself. A good spell in the archives tomorrow will take him down a peg or two.

“Tomorrow,” he says coldly, “you can start the search for the kids’ family. And look up the Land Registry for the house. I want a list of everyone who’s owned the site.”

“Jesus,” mutters Clough, in a distinctly non-religious tone.

The Janus Stone, pp. 142 – 143

Ruth Galloway, Forensic Archaeologist, Book 1: The Crossing Places

Absolutely loving this book about a phlegmatic 39-year-old who still manages to have a good amount of social interaction while solving crimes and carbon-dating graves. Here she is on a walk in the Saltmarsh near her home in Norfolk, accompanied by an old flame, Peter (showed up unannounced, lol), and her neighbour, David, warden of the local bird sanctuary.

“I nearly drowned once on these mudflats,” says Peter chattily. “Got cut off by the tide.”

“Easy to do,” says David. “The tide comes in faster than a galloping horse, they say.”

“Let’s gallop off then,” says Ruth. She is fed up with both of them.

The Crossing Places, p. 163

Sentence of the Day: 2nd Friday of April 2022

  • Ruth likes the Vast: paintings by John Martin, the Vatican, the Norfolk sky. — The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths, p. 16

Cross-posting for Skywatch Friday.

Introducing Forensic Archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway

“Why don’t you live somewhere more convenient?” her colleagues ask. “There are some lovely properties in King’s Lynn, or even Blakeney if you want to be near to nature.” Ruth can’t explain, even to herself, how a girl born and brought up in South London can feel such a pull to these inhospitable marshlands, these desolate mudflats, this lonely unrelenting view. It was research that first brought her to the Saltmarsh but she doesn’t know herself what it is that makes her stay, in the face of so much opposition. “I’m used to it,” is all she says.

The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths, p. 15

Yes indeed, self did finish reading The Leavers. Last night. It messed with her heart big-time. The ending was good. Four stars!

She’s glad to be reading a mystery, The Crossing Places. Mysteries feel more in line with her state of mind, these days.

Stay tuned.

Prime Suspect, Blue Lightning

This is one of those multiple point-of-view novels, and the murder victim keeps slipping in and out of view. Damn! Who could the murderer be? The cook who was just fired by the murder victim? The birder who lives for his annual trip to Fair Isle? The older husband tired of his wife’s many infidelities?

Self has ruled out the dysfunctional sixteen-year-old stepdaughter, Perez and his fiancée, and Perez’s parents.

Jane, the cook, is so creepy! She’s been snooping in everyone’s rooms, opening laptops, rifling through drawers, etc. All from a desire to be helpful to the investigation. There is something she isn’t saying! And she is entirely too envious of others. And she’s manipulative. She’s as eager for attention as everybody else, but since she’s old and self-effacing, this fact is not immediately evident.

The Jane point of view, pp. 137 – 138:

  • Mary arrived just as Jane reached the lobby. She’d brought Perez’s fiancée with her. Jane thought Perez and this Englishman made a strange couple; Perez was so straight and silent, very Shetland despite the dark hair and olive skin, and Fran so full of energy and questions, stylish in a bohemian sort of way.

Self thinks it’s JANE! But since it’s only halfway, it’s probably not Jane.

Stay tuned.

The Opinion of a Character on Mail-Order Brides

Whoa whoa whoa whoa

A character in an Ann Cleeves novel considers the possibility of MAIL-ORDER BRIDES.

Self was dreading seeing the name of her native country on the page, but it was some other Southeast-Asian country, NOT the Philippines.

Some of his mates had gone to Thailand to find a bride, and at one time Dougie had been tempted to go down that route. He imagined a small, pretty woman, mild-mannered and grateful to be in the UK. He would be her hero: after all, he would have rescued her from poverty, perhaps from a life on the streets. She would provide companionship, laugh at his jokes, come birding with him. There would be sex. Regular sex. But his acquaintances’ Thai brides turned out to be strong and forceful women. They laughed at their men and made their lives a misery.

Blue Lightning, p. 51

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