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Review: The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places (Ruth Galloway, #1)

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up a copy of the 7th novel in the Ruth Galloway series (The Ghost Fields) at a library book sale and enjoyed it enough to start at the beginning. The Crossing Places is the first in this series by Elly Griffiths and it won the Mary Higgins Clark Award when it debuted in 2011.

The story unfolds at a good clip and Griffiths does doles out the clues deliberately and offers enough doubt and misdirection to keep things interesting to the very end. Because I read the 7th book first, I knew quite a bit about who was going to survive, who couldn’t possibly be the killer, and who was going to end up friends in the future. Although this had the disadvantage of informing me early on that at least one the prime suspects in the twisting case was innocent, it also intrigued me as I wondered how Griffiths will develop these characters over the next 5 books to get them to the place in their lives in which I first encountered them.

Protagonist Dr. Ruth Galloway is a well-written, wholly believable forensic archaeologist who teaches at a University in Norfolk, England and lives by the sea with her cats and a host of relatable quirks. Ruth has lived in her cottage for some years, having been drawn to the place after working on a dig at a henge site in the nearby saltmarsh 10 years ago. Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson brings Ruth into a case after the bones of a child are found near the site and she’s drawn into a cold case that has bedeviled Harry for 10 years.

The complications of doing archaeological work in a salt marsh, the absurdities of academia, and the challenges of working with self-declared descendant communities such as modern-day Druids are all concisely but vividly described and these details are woven into the plot to give the story a sense of realism without pulling you out of the main mystery.

Although this series began in 2011, all of the books in it have interminable waits at my public library, which I’m (mostly, sort of) delighted about because everyone should read about the travails of relatable archaeologists who neither look nor behave like Lara Croft. (No offense, Lara. But seriously, we need to talk about those white tank tops and also the looting). I have plenty to keep me busy in the meantime, but I still rather wish my neighbors would learn to read faster.








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