LJ's Reviews > The Crossing Places

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
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's review
Jan 04, 10

bookshelves: amateur_sleuth, contemporary_post_1945, england, female_author, mystery, traditional_mystery
Read in December, 2009

First Sentence: They wait for the tide and set out at first light.

Archaeologist Ruth Galloway is a single, overweight woman who lives with her two cats on the edge of the Saltmarsh. DCI Harry Nelson asks for her help when human bones are found on a nearby beach. Nelson is haunted by the case of Lucy Downey, a young girl who disappeared ten years ago. A second child now disappears. Nelson believes the two cases are linked.

It is always a treat to start a book by an author I’d not previously read and discover it is a very enjoyable book.

The opening is particularly effective and creates a strong sense of place. In fact, it is the evocative quality of Ms. Griffiths' descriptions that entranced me and held me fast into the story. Add to that fascinating historical, geological, archeological and forensic information that enhances the story, but never overwhelms or slows it down.

The characters are only slightly less effective. I loved Ruth. She is definitely a character with whom I can identify. It is so refreshing not to have a young, slim, gorgeous protagonist. She is smart, strong and independent. A slight criticism would be that the author focused more than needed on Ruth’s weight and being single. There’s a point where you say, “Okay, I’ve got it.”

Detective Nelson, on the other hand, seemed rather anachronistic in his view toward women and I was rather amazed at some of the things he didn’t know, particularly with a British education. The other characters felt contrived.

I did guess the villain fairly early on, but there were enough twists and red herrings that I wasn’t completely certain. There is an incident with one of Ruth’s cats I felt was predictable and not really necessary to the plot.

The story does have a bit of a Gothic feel, which I enjoyed, and some very good suspense. It kept me reading from page one straight through in one sitting. I was surprised by the very ending, but not particularly in a good way.

Still, taken all together, the positives far outweighed the negatives and I look forward to more books by Ms. Griffiths.

THE CROSSING PLACES (Trad Mys-Ruth Galloway-England-Cont) – G+
Griffiths, Elly – 1st in series
Houghton, Mufflin, Harcourt, 2009, ARC – ISBN: 978-547339898

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