For my review of the first book in the series, see this post from this past summer.
#2: The Janus Stone (2010)
I liked how realistic this story was, in the sense that lots of intelligent people contributed to solving the case, rather than one person displaying super-human skills of deduction. I also liked that at the end, though Ruth again was the one who ended up in danger, she saved herself just as much as (or more than) the men who rushed to her rescue.
#3: The House at Sea's End (2011)
One of the great things about this series is the secondary characters, and how they are developing as we get to know them better. Judy (the policewoman) is especially becoming an interesting character, unhappy as she already is in her new marriage. Of course Ruth ends up in mortal peril again in this book, but unlike the previous two books in the series, the ending was a total surprise; I had not guessed at all who the killer was and was totally fooled by all the twists in the story.
#4: A Room Full of Bones (2012)
Though in general, I'm not super thrilled by the whole affair story line developed early in the series, I do like the way Elly is handling the love triangle, and the continued development of the secondary characters. Cathbad especially is such an interesting character -- sometimes a bit too stereotypical, but always intriguing and very charming. I'm interested to see if he continues to be such a constant presence in the cases in future books. It's one of those instances where it feels like a bit of a stretch for him to be involved in every case (a bit along the lines of Ruth's involvement in the first place), but he's a such a great character I hope he sticks around.
The danger for a mystery series with a non-detective in the lead is that sometimes the ways to get the main character involved in each case gets more and more unrealistic. Ruth's involvement is addressed somewhat by her status as an official consultant, and of course there are plenty of local cases that are not mentioned that she has no hand in at all. Still, I hope that the core stories in each book continue to justify her central role in each investigation in a believable manner. Regardless, outside of the case details in each book (which are always interesting), it really is the characters that make these books worth reading.
Keep reading! Beth