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The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
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The Crossing Places (2009)

by Elly Griffiths

Other authors: Raymond Turvey

Series: Ruth Galloway (1)

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The Crossing Places opens on an archaelogical dig where the protagonist, Dr Ruth Galloway, discovers a body – but it is an Iron Age body preserved in the peat of the saltmarsh. Not all the bodies in this book are so old.

The mixture of sand, sea, marsh, wind, lost tribes and lost voices is a compelling one. Ms Griffiths’ first book successfully combines a dry academic subject with the more painful aspects of policing to produce a crime drama swept up in the sometimes glorious, sometimes desolate skies of Norfolk. In Ruth we find a reasonable, intelligent and lonesome soul, concerned about her age, weight and purpose, meeting a policeman concerned with the ghosts of cases past and present. She becomes his expert witness – the bones expert – but they find they work well as a team, since neither can let sleeping dogs lie.

There are likable and dislikable characters, old hippies and born-again Christians. There are forlorn lovers and distraught parents. There are samples and mixtures of literature designed to lead one astray. The whole is an excellent piece of misdirection and evocative description that tends towards the gothic in its eerie delivery. When I had to put it down, I couldn’t wait to pick it up again. I’m looking forward to the next one.
( )
  Jemima_Pett | Nov 11, 2014 |
This was a very good book. I couldn't put it down towards the end. It is about archaeologist Ruth Galloway and inspector Nelson. Nelson calls Ruth in for a consultation on bones for what he thinks is a missing child. Lucy has been missing for ten years. Ruth finds that the bones are actually artifacts, and are very old. Nelson is frustrated. He has received many letters describing where the body is an he just can't figure it out. He has Ruth take a look at them. Then a second child disappears from her back yard, no clues. Ruth and Nelson work together to solve the mystery of the letters and who is behind the kidnappings. ( )
  bwhitner | Nov 7, 2014 |
This should have been a perfect fit for me, Archaeologist, female, gets caught up in a murder mystery when a body found is actually not new but historical. I got the actual murderer earlier and found it quite obvious.

It's not a bad read but it didn't quite satisfy. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Oct 1, 2014 |
A mystery from the POF of a woman archeology professor who gets involved with solving a murder. I liked it at first, interesting archeology stuff and gripping mystery, though I was kind of irritated by a lot of mentions of her thinking about how fat she is. Probably not unrealistic but maybe a little too much.

Now that I've finished I have to say it was a big disappointment. The mystery just was solved a little too easily and with clues that the Mary Sue-ish protagonist discovered (and I guessed the murderer right away, which is a minus); there were some emotional things that didn't feel right (when she realizes someone she trusts may be untrustworthy, the description of her reaction didn't have the resonance I thought it needed; there are all these times when she's in danger but stupidly blabs to lots of people about her whereabouts and other things; something bad happens to a pet (and it was obvious this was coming) but she doesn't do anything to protect another pet. Finally it contained my most hated trope ever and I'm going to say what it is because I think this book is so bad it should be spoiled: people have sex one time and a pregnancy results. At least the man isn't on his deathbed, which is usually how this works.

Apparently this on the Mary Higgins Clark award in 2011 which is astonishing. Bah. ( )
  piemouth | May 16, 2014 |
The Crossing Places, by Elly Griffiths, is the first book in a series featuring DCI Harry Nelson and forensic archeologist/academic Ruth Galloway, set in Norfolk County, England. Nelson is haunted by the unsolved disappearance of a 5-year-old girl 10 years earlier, so when the skeleton of a child is found in the marshes on the coast of Norfolk, he is hopeful that the case can at last be solved, albeit in a tragic way. Ruth Galloway is called in to examine the bones, and she dates them to an Iron Age settlement, not Nelson's missing child at all. Soon, however, a second child goes missing, and the race is on to discover if there is any link to the earlier case or even to the distant past.... I had actually picked up the fourth book in this series to start, but within about 30 pages I realized that I liked the characters and their relationships enough to want to read the series from the beginning, and I was lucky enough to be able to find all three of the earlier books. Ruth is a marvelous heroine - fiercely independent, complex and, thankfully, a far cry from the stereotypical beautiful/competent/brave female-who-does-it-all that is so unrealistic yet common in fiction these days. Nelson is also complex and interesting - a Northerner who has never quite settled into the softer Southern atmosphere of Norfolk, deeply dedicated to his work but quite unable to "play the game" in terms of policing politics. The setting is also lovely, full of open ocean expanses and darkly brooding, treacherous marshland that can be, quite literally, a fatal place to walk. The secondary characters are also unique personalities in themselves, and the mystery is fairly clued; plus, one learns a lot about archeology and the prehistoric peoples of the region. I've already begun the second book in the series, and can't wait to get to the third and the fourth as well; recommended! ( )
  thefirstalicat | Apr 30, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 64 (next | show all)
A highly atmospheric mystery set in the desolate salt marshes of England’s Norfolk coast.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elly Griffithsprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Turvey, Raymondsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
What the sand gets, the sand keeps forever.

Wilkie Collins, The Moonstone
Dedication
For Marge
First words
They wait for the tide and set out at first light.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
When she's not digging up bones or other ancient objects, quirky, tart-tongued archaeologist Ruth Galloway lives happily alone with her cats in a remote area of England called the Saltmarsh, 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, some even including quotes from the Bible and Shakespeare.

The bones 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.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0547229895, Hardcover)

Product Description
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.


Amazon Exclusive Essay: "A Bridge to the Afterlife" by Elly Griffiths, Author of The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places is set on desolate marshland in Norfolk. It is thought that prehistoric people saw marshland as sacred. Because it is neither land nor sea but a mixture of both, they saw it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife--neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. This is why they often buried treasure, or even bodies, at the edge of marshland. There have been several discoveries of so-called bog bodies, prehistoric bodies preserved in peaty marshland soil. The most famous of these is probably Tollund Man, discovered in Denmark in 1950. Tollund Man, who dates from the Iron Age, was hanged before being thrown into a peat bog. Was he a sacrifice to the gods, an offering in return for safe passage across the treacherous ground? No one really knows.

Norfolk is on the east coast of England. Less than ten thousand years ago, this land would have been part of the European landmass, now Scandinavia. It's no wonder, then, that Norse belief was strong in the area. My story is fictional but there have been many real-life archaeological discoveries on the Norfolk coast. At Holme-next-the-Sea, a wooden henge was discovered, believed to date from the Bronze Age. At the center of the henge circle was a tree, planted upside down. Was this Yggdrasil, the world tree of Norse legend? The tree on which Odin was sacrificed for the good of mankind? Again, no one knows. As Ruth, the forensic archaeologist in my book, says, "the questions are more important than the answers."

(Photo © Jerry Bauer)



(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:32 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

When a child's bones are found near an ancient henge in the wild saltmarshes of Norfolk's north coast, Ruth Galloway, a university lecturer in forensic archaeology, is asked to date them by DCI Harry Nelson who thinks they may be the bones of a child called Lucy who has been missing for ten years.… (more)

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