The Janus Stone: The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 2 eBook

The Janus Stone: The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 2 Chapter A light breeze runs through the long grass at the top of the hill Close up the land looks ordinary just heather and coarse grass with the occasional white stone standing out like a signpost But if you were to fly up above these unremarkable hills you would be able to see circular raised banks and darker rectangles on the grass sure indications that this land has been occupied many many times beforeRuth Galloway walking rather slowly up the hill does not need the eagles eye view to know that this is an archaeological site of some importance Colleagues from the university have been digging on this hill for days and they have uncovered not only evidence of a Roman villa but of earlier Bronze Age and Iron Age settlementsRuth had planned to visit the site earlier but she has been busy marking papers and preparing for the end of term It is May and the air is sweet full of pollen and the scent of rain She stops getting her breath back and enjoying the feeling of being outdoors on a spring afternoon The year has been dark so far though not without unexpected bonuses and she relishes the chance just to stand still letting the sun beat down on her faceRuth She turns and sees a man walking toward her He is wearing jeans and a work stained shirt and he treats the hill with disdain hardly altering his long stride He is tall and slim with curly dark hair turning silver at the temples Ruth recognizes him as he obviously does her from a talk he gave at her university several months ago Dr Max Grey from the University of Sussex an archaeologist and an expert on Roman BritainIm glad you could come he says and he actually does look glad A change from most archaeologists who resent another expert on their patch And Ruth is an acknowledged expert on bones decomposition and death She is head of forensic archaeology at the University of North NorfolkAre you down to the foundations asks Ruth following Max to the summit of the hill It is colder here and somewhere high above a skylark singsYes I think so says Max pointing to a neat trench in front of them Halfway down a line of grey stone can be seen I think we may have found something that will interest you actuallyRuth knows without being toldBones she saysDetective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson is shouting Despite having a notoriously short fuse at work at home with his wife and daughters he is a pussycat he is not normally a shouter Brusue commands arehis line usually delivered on the run while moving on to the next job He is a man of uick decisions and limited patience He likes doing things catching criminals interrogating suspects driving too fast and eating too much He does not like meetings pointless discussions or listening to advice Above all he does not like sitting in his office on a fine spring day trying to persuade his new computer to communicate with him Hence the shoutingLeah he bellowsLeah Nelsons admin assistant or secretary as he likes to call her edges cautiously into the room She is a delicate dark girl of twenty five much admired by the younger officers Nelson though sees her mainly as a source of coffee and an interpreter of new technology which seems to get newer andtemperamental every dayLeah he complains the screens gone blank againDid you switch it off asks Leah Nelson has been known to pull out plugs in moments of frustration once blowing all the lights on the second floorNo Well once or twiceLeah dives beneath the desk to check the connections Seems okay she says Press a keyWhich one Surprise meNelson thumps the space bar and the computer miraculously comes to life saying smugly Good afternoon DCI NelsonFuck off responds Nelson reaching for the mouseI beg your pardon Leahs eyebrows riseNot you says Nelson This thing When I want small talk Ill ask for itI assume its programmed to say good morning says Leah euably Mine plays me a tuneJesus weptChief Superintendent Whitcliffe says everyones got to familiarize themselves with the new computers Theres a training session at four todayIm busy says Nelson without looking up Got a case conference out Swaffham wayIsnt that where theyre doing that Roman dig asks Leah I saw it on Time TeamShe has her back to Nelson straightening files on his shelves and so doesnt see the sudden expression of interest on his faceA dig Archaeology Yes says Leah turning around Theyve found a whole Roman town there they thinkNelson now bends his head to his computer screen Lots of archaeologists there are there Yes My uncle owns the local pub the Phoenix and he says theyre in there every night Hes had to double his cider orderTypical grunts Nelson He can just imagine archaeologists drinking cider when everyone knows that bitters a mans drink Women archaeologists though are another matterI might have a look at the site on my way back he saysAre you interested in history asks Leah disbelievinglyMe Yes fascinated Never miss an episode of SharpeYou should be on our pub uiz team then I get too nervous says Nelson blandly typing in his password with one finger Nelson Hes not one for ambiguity Do me a favour love make us a cup of coffee would you Swaffham is a picturesue market town the kind Nelson drives through every day without noticing A few miles outside and you are deep in the country fields waist high with grass signposts pointing in both directions at once cows wandering across the road shepherded by a vacant looking boy on an all terrain vehicle Nelson is lost in seconds and almost gives up before it occurs to him to ask the vacant youth the way to the Phoenix pub When in doubt in Norfolk ask the way to a pub It turns out to be uite near Nelson does a U turn in the mud pulls into a road that is nothan a track and there it is a low thatched building facing a high grassy bank Nelson parks in the pub parking lot and with a skip of his heart that he does not want to acknowledge as excitement he recognizes the battered red Renault parked across the road at the foot of the hill I just havent seen her for a while he tells himself Itll be good to catch upHe has no idea where to find the dig or even what it will look like but he reckons hell be able to seefrom the top of the bank Its a beautiful evening the shadows are long on the grass and the air is soft But Nelson does not notice his surroundings he is thinking of a bleak coastline of bodies washed out to sea by a relentless tide of the circumstances in which he met Ruth Galloway She had been the forensic archaeologist called in when human bones were found on the Saltmarsh a desolate spot on the North Norfolk coast Though those bones had turned out to bethan two thousand years old Ruth had subseuently become involved in a muchrecent case that of a five year old girl abducted believed murdered He hasnt seen Ruth since the case ended three months agoAt the top of the hill he can see onlyhills The only features of interest are some earthworks in the distance and two figures walking along the top of the bank which curves around like a wall one a brown haired woman in loose dark clothes the other a tall man in mud stained jeans A cider drinker hell be boundRuth calls Nelson He can see her smile she has a remarkably lovely smile not that he would ever tell her soNelson She looks good too he thinks her eyes bright her cheeks pink with exercise She hasnt lost any weight though and he realizes that he would have been rather disappointed if she hadWhat are you doing here asks Ruth They dont kiss or even shake hands but both are grinning broadlyHad a case conference nearby Heard there was a dig hereWhat are you watching Time Team now My favourite viewingRuth smiles skeptically and introduces her companion This is Dr Max Grey from Sussex University Hes in charge of the dig Max this is DCI NelsonThe man looks surprised Nelson himself is aware that his title sounds incongruous in the golden evening with the birds swooping overhead and the smell of hay in the air Crime happens even here Nelson tells Max Grey silently Academics are never keen on the police But Dr Grey manages a smileAre you interested in archaeology DCI Nelson Sometimes says Nelson cautiously RuthDr Gallowayand I worked on a case together recentlyThat affair on the SaHer lead character is engagingly awkward enough to be perversely appealing on this evidence Griffiths has wrought something of a miracle The Times It s always a pleasure when an author s second book lives up to the promise of the first and this is certainly true of the second in Griffiths s series There s a satisfying meaty plot family secrets insanity and ancient mythology both pagan and Roman but it s Griffiths s dryly humorous writing and the appeal of her two main characters that make these books such a treat More please Guardian it is topically terrifying enough but farso when it is combined with pagan rites bone chilling stuff Times

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