The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places by Elly GriffithsThe Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway, #1) by Elly Griffiths
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 5, 2010
Pages: 320
Source: I borrowed this book from my local library.
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      When she’s not digging up bones or other ancient objects, quirky, tart-tongued archaeologist Ruth Galloway lives happily alone in a remote area called Saltmarsh near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants - not quite earth, not quite sea.      When a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach nearby, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls Galloway for help. Nelson thinks he has found the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing ten years ago. Since her disappearance he has been receiving bizarre letters about her, letters with references to ritual and sacrifice.      The bones actually turn out to be two thousand years old, but Ruth is soon drawn into the Lucy Downey case and into the mind of the letter writer, who seems to have both archaeological knowledge and eerie psychic powers. Then another child goes missing and the hunt is on to find her.       As the letter writer moves closer and the windswept Norfolk landscape exerts its power, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory – and in serious danger.
THE CROSSING PLACES marks the beginning of a captivating new crime series featuring an irresistible heroine.

The Crossing Places was my book club’s pick for this month. I heard the words “forensic archaeology” and was intrigued, but also afraid things would get too dry and technical. That fear was totally unfounded! This cozy mystery tells you what you need to know without interrupting the flow in any way, especially when it comes to defining terms (like henge and lynn) and a solid sense of the history timeline. I learned some things in a very natural, effortless way; I loved that. The setting was amazing; I felt like I could see the marsh, feel and smell the salt air.

Plus, you guys… there are bog bodies in this book!

My only issues were minor:

  • What is it with British female protagonists, constantly worrying about being cat-loving, overweight spinsters?
  • The adverbs, my goodness. They were creative, and some made me laugh out loud: “Flint pushes furrily past her.” Furrily! (Flint is a cat, but still…)

The tricky thing about light mysteries like this is, the “whodunit” tends to be easy to figure out. But this one still manages to pull off a little surprise. I would be reading along, thinking I’d figured out everything, but realizing there were actually several directions the story could go. I didn’t really know how things would pan out until the reveal. THANK YOU, Elly Griffiths.

The Crossing Places was good. I’m definitely interested in reading more of the Ruth Galloway mysteries.


  • I enjoyed this one too, and have gone on to read The Janis Stone (no.2) Unfortunately, I’m missing 3 and 4 from the series, and I can’t justify buying more books, but I don’t want to miss them out either, as things get complicated “personally” – I think you’ll know what I mean! So I’ll be haunting charity shops for them!

  • I completely understand the fear of a book being too technical or otherwise. I’ve steered clear of books that I thought might be that way and feel like I missed something after. I’m glad it worked for you. My book club meets today, and I’m kind of worried about the pick; I’ve DNF’d the last two picks.

  • I’ve loved this series for a while, but at some point, I stopped reading them (I read the first four and now there are eight or so…). I’m going to request the next one from my library if they have it. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Jennine G.

    It always amazes me how writers can take a topic like forensics and archaeology and get it right. So much research!