Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

From yesterday's post on honeybees to today's entry on holes in the earth, I never know where my reading will take me.

I just discovered the Ruth Galloway mystery series by Elly Griffiths. The Crossing Places introduces Ms. Galloway, forensic archaeologist. She is a 40-year-old woman who teaches at the University of North Norfolk and lives in a cottage at the edge of the sea. She lives alone with her two cats. 

She gets involved in a missing persons case when bones are found preserved in the peat near her cottage. She meets DCI Harry Nelson when he asks her help in identifying the age of the bones. He has been haunted by the disappearance of Lucy, a young girl who went missing 10 years previously. Her body was never found. Then another girl disappears. Could the same person be involved? And who is writing those letters taunting DCI Nelson and hinting that Lucy's body would be found "where the earth and the sea and the sky meet"?

There is a lot of atmosphere in this book. The Saltmarsh, the sea, the storms. There are Druids and ancient burial sites. I love reading about the desolate landscape that so attracts Ruth. In her isolation, she finds it easier to talk to herself and her cats than she does to her colleagues. In the course of the book her old mentor shows up as does a former lover. Her one friend Shona, Ruth's exact opposite, bewails her misery over her own doomed affair with a married man. 

The overall arc of the story held my interest. There were some inconsistencies - how did so many people come to know about the letters when the police weren't disclosing their existence? And sometimes the weather changed from page to page in matter of minutes. But who cares? Minor details.

Ruth is an independent, intriguing character and I will look forward to getting to know her better in the second in the series, The Janus Stone.


  1. It's the setting of this book that intrigues me the most; gotta love ancient burial sites, peat bogs, Druids and the sea. It's a very cool cover, too.

    1. I agree, Lark. I am the person who wants to go to the seashore in winter when it is cold and abandoned. Windswept and wild. Grey and ghostly. (There is probably some sort of medication for that! Ha!)

  2. What I love most about these books is the quirky third person present narrative voice. And, latterly, Kate, who you have yet to meet but who, by book five is a very distinct presence in the series.

    1. Alex, you are so right about the voice. For some reason, I flunked Identifying the Narrative Voice in high school, but I did notice that the narration in this book seemed to switch about. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

      Hmmm. I wonder who Kate could be?