The Stone Circle by Elly Griffiths

As always, Ruth Galloway novels are one of my favourites. With links from the past connecting to present events and fascinating relationships between the characters, I love this series and this novel in particular.

I like the links between the past and the present, especially with this one going right back to the beginning with a crime that links to Ruth’s past. There are quite a lot of connections to the first book, so it may be hard to follow if you haven’t read it yet, but for me it made the mystery more interesting as I got to reconnect back with a story that I loved. In this one, the body of 12-year-old Margaret Lacey is found during a dig near a stone circle, bringing the series back round to the death of Scarlett Henderson in the first novel – the girl that Nelson couldn’t save. I like that Ruth Galloway novel focus on the crime as well as all the symbolism and meaning behind the stone circles, as I love history/crime novels in particular!

This novel also really highlighted the development of the characters, especially the relationship between Ruth and Nelson. These two have always been a fascinating couple to watch, especially the way Ruth is both fiercely independent and yet also can’t quite let Nelson go. It makes for interesting reading, especially after developments in their personal lives, such as Michelle’s baby and the developing relationship with Nelson’s two older daughters.

Going back to the actual story, there were quite a lot of red herrings, which I loved – it kept me on my toes and meant I was never quite sure what to believe! Elly Griffiths always sneaks in a lot of detail, about both the mystery and the lives of the characters, and I always love noticing the links here and there. It’s a very satisfying ending, and it would be impossible to predict, so definitely came as a surprise. It really builds, with lots of twists and turns, and Griffiths also links in the relationship between Judy and Maddie which just makes it that bit more meaningful.

The descriptions of people, places and events is always so vivid, which I love, as I’m a very visual reader. All the reoccurring characters are so consistently well-written, and I have to admit that Cathbad and Judy will always be two of my favourites, however much I love Nelson and Ruth.

This is a great series, and both as a collection and as standalone novels, definitely worth a read.

Credits:
The Stone Circle
Elly Griffiths
Quercus Books, 7 Feb 2019

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

Although this got really intense in the second half of the book, I found this quite slow and tough to get through at first.

The main character in this I just found extremely irritating to begin with. I think this would be great for fans of The Girl on the Train, but for me I just got frustrated by the lack of sense the main character made. Anna Fox never leaves her house, instead observing her neighbours through her windows – she drinks, she plays online chess, and has an interesting relationship with her husband and daughter. She’s a child psychologist, so I did enjoy seeing her relationship with her own mental health change and evolve. For me however, I didn’t enjoy the first half of the book as much, as it was too repetitive and too reliant on the shadowy events that were unfolding and the unreliability of the narrator. Her observations and discussions with people she interacts with make no sense due to her drinking and mixing prescription drugs, but for me this just went on too long and it became frustrating. Some readers will definitely like this though, and will enjoy the sense of the true unknown that this provides.

Towards the second half of the novel, however, things really picked up. As Anna became more proactive, the descriptions and language became really visual and it’s easy at times to feel like you are actually feeling and experiencing Anna’s agoraphobia. It was a very absorbing second half, and A. J. Finn writes Anna’s mental health struggles very well. It was also increasingly difficult watching her struggle to believe her own memory, as it made the mystery of what was happening in the house across the road take a backseat for a while.

This then meant that once the reader got back into the mysterious events unfolding in the house, there was absolutely no way to know who did what. The ending is rather sudden, although genuinely quite surprising, and I did enjoyed the level of closure Finn allowed the reader – not so much a ‘happy ever after’ but a definite sense of satisfaction.

Anna’s relationship with herself also becomes much more interesting towards the end of the novel – without giving away spoilers, her relationship with her family was definitely not what I was expecting, and sudden extra twists like this I thought really gave this novel it’s edge.

Overall, this is a great quick read, but for me it just takes too long to build. Once within the mystery though, it’s a really gripping tale and I did enjoy it.

Credits:
The Woman in the Window
A. J. Finn
HarperCollins, 2018