The Crossing Places
Official Blurb (courtesy of Goodreads.com): 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
What’s it about? It is the story of a university archaeologist Ruth Galloway and her involvement with two cases of missing children. The cases cross over with the story of an Iron Age henge in the same area, and as the title of the book suggests, there is more than one “crossover” in the story.
There is a lot of personal stuff too – Ruth’s home, her neighbours, her burgeoning friendship/partnership with DCI Harry Nelson, her friends, a past archaeological dig with other students and “new age mystics” that somehow are intrinsically linked to the current missing children.
Where is it set? It is set in Norfolk, England. The landscape is bleak, isolated, marshy and feels literally like the ends of the Earth.
Who are the main characters? Dr Ruth Galloway, an archaeologist from the university and DCI Harry Nelson from the local constabulary are the two main characters and as this is the first in the series I’m guessing these two are going to be featured in coming books. As different from each other as chalk and cheese this pair hit it off and their relationship doesn’t remain simply professional for very long.
How well is it written? The plot is well thought out, well researched, included lots of references to myths and legends from Britain and other parts of Europe, and had an absolutely thrilling ending. So yes, for me, it was well written.
However there were a couple of things that grated on my nerves.
First, it took me AGES to get into this book, and I couldn’t settle to it to begin with. One reason was that the prose was in the present tense all the way through, which was a bit of a challenge to me for some reason. I did get used to it eventually, but it just upset my reading rhythm initially. Secondly, I thought the Ruth and Harry characters were just a touch too unbelievable in the sense that the way they were described in the narrative didn’t match the way they acted. There was a ring of untruth about them, especially when it comes to their relationship. Maybe it will get better as the series goes on.
My overall impression? I really enjoyed this book (once I got into it, after about 30% or so) and I found that I really liked Ruth Galloway’s character. I loved the descriptions of the marshes and the tidal flats where the buried henge was and I thought the author had captured the mood of the isolation brilliantly. The book stood alone as a great novel and there were enough loose threads at the end to lead into the next one without losing anything from it.
Will I read the next in the series? Yes I will. I want to know what happens to Ruth, and whether or not this one can match up to the next in terms of structure of the plot etc.
Would I recommend it to my friends? Yes, absolutely. It does involve murder but there is no blood and no gore so it won’t offend anyone’s squeamishness. If you’re interested in ancient peoples and modern archaeological processes then this will add to the interest of the novel, but even if you’re not, the plot is enough in its own right to keep you interested and engaged with it.