Sunday, September 2, 2012
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
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.
This excellent mystery is the beginning of a new series featuring Ruth Galloway, an incredibly complicated yet ultimately engaging character. Though elements of the story, especially Ruth's actions in the final scenes on the saltmarsh, are frustratingly absurd, overall this thriller kept me on the edge of my seat. The writing is strong and the characters appropriately flawed- I always enjoy protagonists who display human foibles.
Like the Shetland Island series by Ann Cleeves, this book features a strong stark setting that acts as a character in its own right. The saltmarsh here is central to the story, as is its dark history. Griffiths does an exceptional job setting her scene which helps anchor this story. The pacing is strong and the plot complicated but not absurdly so- in all, this was an excellent read. I'm anxiously awaiting the next installment...