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The Crossing Places

A Ruth Galloway Mystery

by Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths X
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2010, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 2010, 288 pages

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Power Reviewer
Cloggie Downunder

An outstanding debut novel
The Crossing Places is the first book in the Ruth Galloway series by award-winning British author, Elly Griffiths. Norfolk DCI Harry Nelson has been haunted by the unsolved case of little Lucy Downey’s disappearance for ten years. When some human bones are discovered at the salt marshes near Kings Lynn, Harry calls on archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway to give an opinion on the bones. Ruth’s cottage is quite close, and she is interested in anything to do with the marshes. The bones, and the accompanying Iron Age artefacts, turn out to be a noteworthy find for archaeology, but no resolution for the Downey family.

Nelson is impressed by Ruth’s professionalism, and he makes an impression on her too: “He was an odd man, she thought, brusque and unfriendly, but it seemed as if he had really cared about that little girl.” It’s this caring, perhaps, that sees her ready to help.

Then another little girl goes missing, and Nelson asks for Ruth’s input on the letters he has been regularly receiving, letters telling him in the vaguest terms where Lucy, and now young Scarlet, are. The letters are filled with a mixture of strange references: biblical, Norse legend, literary, Greek legend, pagan and archaeological, and successively take an increasingly exasperated, at times almost taunting, tone at Nelson’s failure to find the missing girls.

This specialised knowledge means that, if the letters are actually from the killer, suspicion falls on certain people who were in the area ten years earlier: Ruth was on a dig with colleagues and volunteers, excavating a beach henge; a group of Druids were part of a protest against it. Could one of these seemingly gentle, nature-loving souls be a murderer? A grisly find on her doorstep then has Ruth wondering if she’s being warned off.

Griffiths tells the story using Ruth and Harry as her main narrators, with occasional passages from the perspective of a captive girl. The plot is believable, the archaeology interesting and the characters are quite convincing for all their flaws and quirks. It is certainly refreshing to read a female protagonist who is not slim and gorgeous. There are twists and red herrings to keep the reader guessing right up to the final chapters, and little surprise that will ensure readers are eager for the second instalment, The Janus Stone. An outstanding debut novel.
Jane D. (Boulder, CO)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
Ruth Galloway is a delightful, human, and quirky character. This is a fun and exciting mystery, while also offering interesting tidbits of archeology, ancient cultures, and Norse mythology. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
Betty B. (Irving, TX)

A New Mystery Series
I am a frequent reader of British mysteries and am always on the lookout for a series new to me. I'm so glad to be introduced to Elly Griffiths and The Crossing Places. I was hooked 20 pages in by the main characters... and the locale. And now I am looking forward to seeing the relationships develop and to learn more about the history of this section of England. I would have liked to have had a second map locating Norfolk and the Saltmarsh on a map of England. But all in all a very good read.
Anne M. (Austin, TX)

Mystery on the Flats
Elly Griffiths' new mystery is set on the Norfolk salt marshes in eastern England, and the bleak surroundings match perfectly the desolation felt by the families of two young girls who have gone missing from the area. Ten years pass between the two disappearances, with the same policeman in charge of both cases; however, in the latter case, he is "assisted" by a local archeologist, Ruth Galloway. Ruth's solitary life on the marshes is disrupted in more ways than one by the intrusion of this mystery, and Griffiths does an excellent job of making the reader feel the loneliness of the area and of Ruth herself -- and of the changes that occur to both.
Kay W. (West Hills, CA) avid reader

Elly Griffiths' The Crossing Places
I was hooked from the beginning. Dr. Ruth Galloway's character is finely drawn and someone you can relate to and all the characters are believable and unique at the same time. Bringing the current time and the very distant past together was intriguing. The plot moves without a false step and you enjoy going along for the ride. A wonder read and I look forward to further adventures with Dr. Ruth Galloway.
Carol C. (Troy, NY)

The Crossing Place by Elly Griffiths
I thoroughly enjoyed this English mystery ,set on the east coast of Norfolk. The book is atmospheric without being gloomy, the characters interesting because of their flaws and not the lack thereof. Beneath the mystery plot, the book, as suggested by the title, delves into boundaries: emotional, professional, personal, ethical and, of course, physical. A final plot twist at the end hints at even more upheaval in books to come. I look forward to Ms Griffiths' next book in the series.
Juliet F. (clarendon hills, IL)

Loved it!
What's not to love? Archeology, history, mysticism, mystery, suspense. A likable female lead character, the promise of a series, and a pleasing, low-key humor. Easy read, but with enough meat to be interesting. Thumbs up!
Joyce S. (Dyersburg, TN)

Hard to put down yet comfy read
I will definitely read any future books in this series. The archeological significance of this coastal England setting is key to the identity and presence of the characters involved. Fortyish Ruth, single, reclusive, college professor, is pulled into the investigation of a murder/disappearance of two little girls. Her fusty specialty in ancient bones is no proper preparation for dealing with colleagues and friends who turn out to be different than she thought and her self acknowledged lack of fitness is a serious handicap in some most unpleasant forays into an inhospitable landscape. I liked the character, the plot and the writing style.
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