Excerpt from The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Crossing Places

A Ruth Galloway Mystery

by Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 320 pages
    Sep 2010, 288 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Ruth teaches at the University of North Norfolk (UNN is the unprepossessing acronym), a new university just outside King’s Lynn. She teaches archaeology, which is a new discipline there, specialising in forensic archaeology, which is newer still. Phil, her head of department, frequently jokes that there is nothing new about archaeology and Ruth always smiles dutifully. It is only a matter of time, she thinks, before Phil gets himself a bumper sticker. ‘Archaeologists dig it.’ ‘You’re never too old for an archaeologist.’ Her special interest is bones. Why didn’t the skeleton go to the ball? Because he had no body to dance with. She has heard them all but she still laughs every time. Last year her students bought her a life-size cut-out of Bones from Star Trek. He stands at the top of her stairs, terrifying the cats.

On the radio someone is discussing life after death. Why do we feel the need to create a heaven? Is this a sign that there is one or just wishful thinking on a massive scale? Ruth’s parents talk about heaven as if it is very familiar, a kind of cosmic shopping centre where they will know their way around and have free passes for the park-and-ride, and where Ruth will languish forever in the underground car park. Until she is Born Again, of course. Ruth prefers the Catholic heaven, remembered from student trips to Italy and Spain. Vast cloudy skies, incense and smoke, darkness and mystery. Ruth likes the Vast: paintings by John Martin, the Vatican, the Norfolk sky. Just as well, she thinks wryly as she negotiates the turn into the university grounds. The university consists of long, low buildings, linked by glass walkways. On grey mornings like this it looks inviting, the buttery light shining out across the myriad car parks, a row of dwarf lamps lighting the way to the Archaeology and Natural Sciences Building. Closer to, it looks less impressive. Though the building is only ten years old, cracks are appearing in the concrete façade, there is graffiti on the walls and a good third of the dwarf lamps don’t work. Ruth hardly notices this, however, as she parks in her usual space and hauls out her heavy rucksack – heavy because it is half-full of bones.

Climbing the dank-smelling staircase to her office, she thinks about her first lecture: First Principles in Excavation. Although they are postgraduates, many of her students will have little or no first-hand experience of digs. Many are from overseas (the university needs the fees) and the frozen East Anglian earth will be quite a culture shock for them. This is why they won’t do their first official dig until April.

As she scrabbles for her key card in the corridor, she is aware of two people approaching her. One is Phil, the Head of Department, the other she doesn’t recognise. He is tall and dark, with greying hair cut very short and there is something hard about him, something contained and slightly dangerous that makes her think that he can’t be a student and certainly not a lecturer. She stands aside to let them pass but, to her surprise, Phil stops in front of her and speaks in a serious voice which nevertheless contains an ill-concealed edge of excitement.

‘Ruth. There’s someone who wants to meet you.’

A student after all, then. Ruth starts to paste a welcoming smile on her face but it is frozen by Phil’s next words. ‘This is Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson. He wants to talk to you about a murder.’

Excerpted from The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths. Copyright © 2010 by Elly Griffiths. Excerpted by permission of Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Crossing the Horizon
    Crossing the Horizon
    by Laurie Notaro
    In Crossing the Horizon, Laurie Notaro takes us back to a time when flying was a rare and risky ...
  • Book Jacket
    Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions
    by Mario Giordano
    Munich matron and self-described worldly sophisticate, Isolde Oberreiter, has decided to retire to a...
  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.