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The Crossing Places

(Ruth Galloway #1)

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  21,550 ratings  ·  2,441 reviews
      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 Ga
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published February 5th 2009)
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Michael There is no gore. There's sex but it's handled delicately, certainly nothing graphic. I don't recall foul language other than what might seem normal…moreThere is no gore. There's sex but it's handled delicately, certainly nothing graphic. I don't recall foul language other than what might seem normal for a rural English policeman. Some bad things happen to children (and animals), so that might be a trigger issue, but it's not described graphically either. (less)
Tytti Well, at the moment this particular book has over 17,400 ratings and almost 2000 reviews, so I would imagine some of them have read at least one of…moreWell, at the moment this particular book has over 17,400 ratings and almost 2000 reviews, so I would imagine some of them have read at least one of her books, maybe even several.(less)

Community Reviews

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3.88  · 
Rating details
 ·  21,550 ratings  ·  2,441 reviews

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Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Brenda by: Ellen
I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I really enjoyed getting to know Ruth and Nelson. I think I needed something without gore, cussing, psychological darkness. Not that this was light reading by any means. The salt water marsh setting was a major character, and the archeological artifacts and mythic stories added a sense of doom. I've already ordered the next two books in the series!
Richard Derus
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was ok

Rating: 1.875* of five (p126)

The Book 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 h
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2019
I very much enjoyed Elly Griffiths' writing in The Stranger Diaries which made me seek out this book, the first in her series about Ruth Galloway. I found it to be a very promising start.

Ruth is a very interesting character, someone who likes to be alone and considers herself over weight and not especially attractive and yet she seems to have a lot of friends and several men who appear to be interested in her. DCI Harry Nelson is one of these men and it will be interesting to see how things turn
Dorie  - Traveling Sister :)
I know that this book had mixed reviews when it was published but the audiobook was wonderful! The narrator got all of the accents right on and by her rendering of the novel I could absolutely picture the salt marshes, the wind, the mud and smell the salt in the air. What an incredible place these marshes are and I didn't know anything about them.

The characters I found to be interesting. Ruth Galloway is a forensic archeologist who lives at the edge of the marshes because she loves the solitude.
Dec 06, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kindle, crime-fiction

I thought I'd like this novel much more than I did. It's not terrible. Indeed, it has some good features. However, I found it disappointing and predictable overall.

First the good points. The central protagonist, Ruth Galloway, is an academic forensic archeologist. Her occupation has plenty of potential for an absorbing crime fiction series and the narrative contains some interesting discussion about matters archeological. In addition, the location - the salt marshes of Norfolk in the east of En
Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
This was a very solid start to the series.

Griffiths gives Ruth both a complete world and persona, without too much info dumping.

I became absolutely absorbed in her story & wanted to find out what happened to the two missing girls.

Some of the writing really captures the feelings of those involved;

"What I'm afraid of," says Delilah suddenly in a high, strained voice, "is that one day someone asks me how many children I have and I say four, not five. Because than I'll know that it's over, tha
The Book Whisperer (aka Boof)
Despite being a lover of crime fiction I hadn’t heard of this book or author before I was invited to go to the Harrogate Crime Fiction Awards last month. Elly’s book The Crossing Places had been shortlisted along with people like Ian Rankin and Mark Billingham and it was what she said on stage about her book having many layers that piqued my interest. What an acolade to have your book nominated and then shortlisted for such a high profile event as this, and I love that there was two debut author ...more
Mar 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
The One Sentence Summary: A forensic archaeologist called in to examine a body found preserved in a salt marsh is drawn into the police investigation for two missing girls abducted ten years apart, and perhaps, into the killer’s crosshairs herself.

The Meat and Potatoes: Ruth Galloway, a short, stout forensic archaeologist living in a cottage on the barren saltmarsh where she was involved in a dig ten years prior, is called to examine a body found only steps from her home. Though the body is from
Ivonne Rovira
Nov 04, 2013 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: those without something better at hand
Once an author had a thought: If I set a section of this novel in present tense, it will make a contrast with the rest of the novel and the main narrator. It will breathe some immediacy into that segment and, along with italics, will really distinguish one section from another, one narrator from another.

As with most innovation, lesser lights immediately fell upon it. If a section is good, wouldn’t the entire novel be even better? And won’t the present tense bestow a sense of immediacy and a fri
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 a
This is the first in a series by Elly Griffiths which features Ruth Galloway,
a forensic archaelogist who lives alone with her two cats in an isolated cottage on Norfolk's Saltmarsh coast.
Ruth is ascerbic, solitary and strangely loveable. She works as the Head of Forensic Archaeology at the University of North Norfolk.
Thirty-something and a bit overweight, she does not have much of a social life, nor does she want one. However, she is drawn to DCI Harry Nelson, the police inspector who was instru
While there was a certain amount of predictability in this novel, the ride was fun and the journey wasn't hard work, so all in all, I can say I enjoyed it immensely. :)
Jan 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths.

Ruth Galloway is not your usual conforming female. She's approaching 40 years old without having married or having any children. She is a forensic archaeologist employed as a professor at the local university outside of the London area. The local she chooses to call home is in quite a desolate place that some might consider gloomy. All in all Ruth Galloway is an independent woman who thinks for herself.
Ruth has a few friends (or so she thinks) that are also
The only reason that I'm not kicking myself for having not started to read this series before now is that I am experiencing the thrill of a newly discovered favorite series. Nothing is sweeter in reading than that first kiss of what you know is going to be a special reading adventure. Elly Griffiths has been on my reading radar for ages, and thanks to her appearance at the upcoming Bouchercon Mystery Convention, I am finally beginning the Ruth Galloway series.

Ruth Galloway is an archaeologist l
Taryn Pierson
Oct 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio
Is it just me, or is this book criminally under the radar? I’m not even sure where I heard about it or how it ended up on my list, but it’s certainly not one I’ve seen bandied about much. I didn’t even have any immediate plans to read it—I used an Audible credit on it out of desperation one night when the two other books I planned to read next in audio turned out not to be available in the format (#firstworldproblems).

My sweet spot when it comes to mysteries and thrillers is somewhere between co
Dec 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: challenge, series
I've been wanting to make a start on this series for a couple of years, so I was glad to have the opportunity to slot this #1 instalment into one of my reading challenges.

A reasonably fast-paced mystery/crime/thriller, the things I liked most about this book were the two main characters - Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Hary Nelson - and the desolate Norfolk location.

What I didn't like so much was the extremely flimsy pretext upon which Ruth, an archaeologist, was drawn into the investigation of the c
Sheila Beaumont
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book in Elly Griffiths' mystery series featuring archaeologist Ruth Galloway, and it looks like I've found a new favorite series to follow. What I like most about this book are the characters, all of them interesting and vividly portrayed, a couple of them quite bizarre. And Ruth is an irresistible heroine. I also enjoyed the atmospheric descriptions of the salt marsh in Norfolk, which made me feel as if I were there. The author is a fine storyteller too. The plot is complex, s ...more
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Crossing Places is the first book in the Ruth Galloway series by award-winning British author, Elly Griffiths. Norfolk DCI Harry Nelson has been haunted by the unsolved case of little Lucy Downey’s disappearance for ten years. When some human bones are discovered at the salt marshes near Kings Lynn, Harry calls on archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway to give an opinion on the bones. Ruth’s cottage is quite close, and she is interested in anything to do with the marshes. The bones, and the accompan ...more
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it

When a child's bones are discovered in the saltmarsh at Norfolk, along the coast of England, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson asks Dr. Ruth Galloway - an archaeologist at a local university - to help excavate the remains. Ruth discovers that the skeleton, which was interred with two Iron Age torques (metal necklaces), is 2,000 years old. Ruth is thrilled with the find but Nelson is disappointed. He thought the bones might belong to Lucy Downey, a five-year-old child who disappeared a decad
Sep 10, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, mystery, thriller
Dr. Ruth Galloway is approached by the police for her assistance when a grave is uncovered out in the salt marsh near her home. Dr. Galloway is an archaeologist whose specialty is identifying old bones. She identifies the bones as being from the Iron Age and therefore not the body of Lucy Downey, a girl who went missing nearly ten years ago. She is asked by Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson, to review a packet of letters that had been sent to him over a period of ten years that contain a lo ...more
Aug 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There is no way this is 5 star work, as indicated by the previous posters on this page. I was totally mislead by this.

A University lecturer in archeology finds herself drawn into a murder case when some bones are discovered on the Norfolk coast. Another child goes missing, and the heroine becomes in danger herself as she starts receiving threatening messages.

Not a bad plot line, but it is, to cut to the chase, one of the most simplistic 'crime' novels I have read. While the hermeneutic intrigue
Erin Hart
Feb 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Against the eerie backdrop of the Saltmarsh—a dangerous, desolate stretch of coastline that’s not quite earth, not quite sea—forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway stirs up fears and passions among the living even as she unearths ancient remains.

Although she’ll admit to being a walking cliché—she’s an overweight, unmarried, cat-loving academic—Ruth Galloway actually defies such slender classification. She’s an uncommon heroine whose acute insight, wry humor, and depth of feeling make her a thoroug
Many, many, many thanks to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who very, very, very kindly sent me a copy of this fantabulous beginning to what I'm positive is a superlative mystery series. Honestly I'm not sure how I've gotten away with calling myself a mystery lover for so long having not read these books.

On the surface this might look like your traditional amateur sleuth and hardened cop reluctantly partnering up to solve the case but there's A LOT more going on here. The amateur sleuth in this case is
Mar 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was taken by the wild, desolate, deviously dangerous locale. Its presence was so strong that I would almost say it was the story, the plot and characters the background, and that worked for me.

The characters were unique and compelling, the rhythm of the story engaging enough. Griffiths accomplishes a satisfying read despite breaking all kinds of rules of the mystery genre and winding up a slow, quiet, largely interior and psychological novel with an almost laughable raft of coincidences of a
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid, highly atmospheric British crime. The Crossing Places is well-paced, and Griffith’s characters deviate enough from convention to make this story both comfortingly recognisable, and original. A solid mystery, whose signposts were just a fraction too obvious for me.
Mar 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first novel featuring Doctor Ruth Galloway, a forensic archaeologist at the University of Norfolk. Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson has been searching for ten years for Lucy Downey, who went missing at the age of five – snatched from her bedroom. When human bones are found on the saltmarsh of the Norfolk coast, he asks Ruth to come and examine the body; hoping that he has found the body of the missing girl and that he will be able to bring her parents some peace of mind at last ...more
Feb 11, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
From page one I didn't really enjoy this book.

The author hammers home two main points:
-Ruth is overweight. There are several mentions of it, of her harping on herself for being 12 stone (which really doesn't seem that large - ~168 pounds) and then others like Detective Nelson also viewing her as large.
-Ruth doesn't believe in God or Christianity. She thinks it is stupid.

The book then repeats these two main points for several chapters to the point where I was rolling my eyes. I GET IT.

From then t
Oct 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I admit that I entered into the reading of this book with certain false assumptions. An archaeologist that solves murders, conjured up images of Lara Croft and Harrison Ford. It's ok that I was wrong about that, those genres are often overrated anyway. But the pace of the book and the plot did not match the sense of adventure I was hoping for. The story was somewhat predictable and the supporting characters seemed two dimensional. I was happy to finish and was interested enough to want to keep r ...more
I absolutely loved parts of this book but the second half can be summed up this way: *eye roll*

I love the setting of the wild British salt marsh (even if it is fictional). And I really like the main character, Ruth, and the police detective. The writing is clumsy at times, but not to the point that the pages stop turning.

Unbelievability is the problem. Ruth does something at about the halfway point that is totally out of character. The story gets very dramatic, everything but the kitchen sink i
I’m still analyzing why I enjoyed this little mystery as much as I did. There are several factors, but I think I’m starting to put my finger on the appeal.

This book was like a cross between Lyn Hamilton’s Lara McClintoch mysteries and Steve Burrow’s Birder Murder Mysteries. Like Hamilton’s main character, Lara McClintoch, Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway is an archaeologist. Like Steve Burrows’ main character, Domenic Jejeune, Ruth lives in Norfolk, in an isolated house on the saltmarsh.

Griffiths’ writi
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  • Lake of Sorrows (Nora Gavin, #2)
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Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Elly's husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archaeologist, and her aunt who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece's head with the myths and legends of that area. Elly has two children and lives near Brighton. Though not her first novel, The Crossing Places is her first crime novel.

Other books in the series

Ruth Galloway (1 - 10 of 12 books)
  • The Janus Stone (Ruth Galloway, #2)
  • The House at Sea's End (Ruth Galloway, #3)
  • A Room Full of Bones (Ruth Galloway, #4)
  • A Dying Fall (Ruth Galloway, #5)
  • The Outcast Dead (Ruth Galloway, #6)
  • The Ghost Fields (Ruth Galloway, #7)
  • The Woman in Blue (Ruth Galloway, #8)
  • The Chalk Pit (Ruth Galloway, #9)
  • The Dark Angel (Ruth Galloway, #10)
  • The Stone Circle (Ruth Galloway, #11)
“When she bought the cats her mother asked her straight out if they were 'baby substitutes'. 'No,' Ruth had answered, straight-faced. 'They're kittens. If I had a baby it would be a cat substitute.” 27 likes
“Nelson nods again. ‘It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. The worst, the very worst. When you have children, suddenly the world seems such a terrifying place. Every stick and stone, every car, every animal, Christ, every person, is suddenly a terrible threat. You realise you’d do anything, anything, to keep them safe: steal, lie, kill, you name it. But sometimes there just isn’t anything you can do. And that’s the hardest thing.” 1 likes
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