review by Maryom
When the bones of a child are found on the North Norfolk saltmarsh, DCI Harry Nelson half-hopes, half-dreads that they may belong to Lucy Downey who went missing 10 years ago when she was five years old, but these are far older bones. Forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway from the University of North Norfolk dates them as belonging sometime during the Iron Age, probably a ritual burial taking place in the tidal zone belonging to both land and sea. Nelson is struck by the similarities of how Ruth describes this pre-historic event, and instructions of where to find Lucy, contained in letters claiming to be from her abductor. He feels Ruth's knowledge of ancient sites along the coast, and her understanding of the beliefs behind these burials may be of help to him in his modern day, seemingly unsolvable case, and Ruth gradually finds herself involved in this long-standing puzzle.
The Crossing Places is the first of the Ruth Galloway series, published back in 2009, and a book I've intended reading for quite a while - in fact since I first heard Elly Griffiths talking about the series three years ago. I'd been intrigued by the mix of modern crime and forensic archaeology, and the setting, which for this story is the misty North Norfolk coast, where I know it's too easy to lose one's bearings and not know which way to head back to dry land - I've fortunately never been caught out on the marshes in a rising tide though, as happens in the story! Anyway, when recently I spotted a free i-books download offer for The Crossing Places, I jumped at it.
The only downside to eventually getting round to something you've anticipated for so long, is that it might disappoint but happily this lived up to all my expectations. The plot is well-constructed, offering a variety of possible perpetrators and motives, easing into things gently but increasing the tension as Ruth herself is threatened, and the relationship between Ruth and Harry works well as a different thread.I loved the character of Ruth - that she's independent and determined to do things her way, ignoring all the presumably well-meaning advice from friends and family about losing weight or getting married and settling down. As it is, she's happy doing what she wants - pursuing her career, living with her cats in a small house in a place she loves, no matter how desolate others find it.
With the series now on Book 8, the Woman in Blue, I know that there's more to come in the relationship between Ruth and Harry Nelson, and more crimes for them to solve. I now intend catching up as quickly as I can.
Maryom's review - 5 stars
Publisher - Quercus
Genre - adult crime thriller