The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths: A review
This is the first in Elly Griffiths' series of books featuring the forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. (Parenthetically, I once knew a woman named Ruth Galloway and I was curious to see if the fictional character would be anything like her. Answer: Only in being extremely intelligent and independent.)
This Ruth Galloway lives in a remote area of England near Norfolk called Saltmarsh. It is the area where the land meets the sea, a place that was sacred to the inhabitants who lived there during the Iron and Bronze Ages. Ruth is nearing forty, is single, and slightly overweight, and she lives with her two cats in a cottage on Saltmarsh.
Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson asks Galloway for her help when a child's bones are discovered on a nearby beach. He believes that the bones may be those of a child who went missing ten years earlier and he needs Galloway's help to determine their age. It turns out that they are actually two thousand years old, but Galloway's interest in the case of the missing child is piqued.
Since the child (named Lucy) disappeared ten years before, DCI Nelson has been receiving bizarre letters referencing her and speaking of ritual and sacrifice. Was Lucy sacrificed in some sort of pagan ritual?
Then another child goes missing and the search intensifies to find the missing children and solve the mystery of their disappearance. Ruth Galloway is drawn into that search.
Galloway is also drawn to Harry Nelson and he is drawn to her, even though he is married. They bond over their mutual need to find out what has happened to the missing children. As the investigation progresses that bond grows stronger.
Galloway's mentor Erik, as well as her ex-boyfriend Peter, and her friend Shona are also involved in Galloway's archaeological dig. The author's depiction of all the characters, most especially Galloway, is a strong point of the plot as is her description of the cold and desolate landscape where the action occurs.
This was an intriguing beginning for the series, a well-developed plot that drew me in and made me feel a part of the story. I liked Ruth Galloway quite a lot and I look forward to getting to know her better. Fortunately, there are several more entries in the series that will allow me to do that.