The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

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Quercus, 2009. 304 pages. ISBN: 978-1-84724-958-6.

Dr Ruth Galloway is a forensic archaeologist, a lecturer at the University of North Norfolk. She will be forty next year. She is a single overweight woman on her own, living pretty much in isolation in a small cottage near to the edge of the marshes on the coast of Norfolk with the only company of her two cats, Sparky and Flint.

Her peace is broken the day the police request her collaboration to identify some human remains found near to a bird sanctuary in the marshes. DCI Harry Nelson thinks they may belong to Lucy Downey, a five-year-old child who vanished without a trace some ten years ago. The bones turn out to be some two thousand years old but Galloway gets more involved in the Lucy Downey case when Nelson shows her the anonymous letters he has been receiving.  Then another girl goes missing and Ruth begins to receive some threatening messages.

Griffiths offers a colourful description that makes us feel the desire to visit the coast and the marshes of Norfolk. A magical place, full of symbolism, capable to spark our interest in archaeology. Ruth Galloway is a lovable character, very well drawn. However other characters are more conventional and the ending is too artificial. I could not find a clear explanation for some of the events narrated. It was an interesting reading, though, and I’ll probably meet Ruth Galloway again.

Elly Griffiths is the nom de plume of Domenica de Rosa, who was born in London and spent ten years in publishing before turning to writing fiction. Her Ruth Galloway novels have been inspired by the work of her husband, who gave up a job in finance to train as an archaeologist, and by her aunt, who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled her niece’s head with the myths and legends of the area. She and her husband have two children and live near Brighton. The Crossing Places (Quercus, 2009) is the first novel in the series. A Room Full of Bones, the fourth instalment, will be available on 7 February 2012.

The Crossing Places has been reviewed at Euro Crime, Petrona, Mysteries in Paradise, Reactions to Reading, DJ’s Krimiblog, BooksPlease, Kittling Books, among others.

Elly Griffiths website


The Norfolk of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway Novels at Scene of the Crime

The Crossing Places de Elly Griffiths

La doctora Ruth Galloway es una arqueóloga forense, profesora de la Universidad de North Norfolk. Cumplirá cuarenta años el próximo año. Soltera, es una mujer con sobrepeso e independiente que vive prácticamente aislada en una pequeña casa de campo al borde de las marismas en la costa de Norfolk, con la única compañía de sus dos gatos, Sparky y Flint.

Su paz se rompe el día que la policía solicita su colaboración para identificar unos restos humanos encontrados cerca de una zona de protección de aves en las marismas. El detective inspector Harry Nelson piensa que pueden pertenecer a Lucy Downey, una niña de cinco años que desapareció sin dejar rastro hace diez años. Los huesos resultan tener unos dos mil años, pero Galloway se involucra más en el caso de Lucy Downey cuando Nelson le enseña las cartas anónimas que ha estado recibiendo. Luego de la desaparición de otra niña, Ruth empieza a recibir mensajes amenazadores.

Griffiths ofrece una colorida descripción que nos hace sentir deseos de visitar la costa y las marismas de Norfolk. Un lugar mágico, lleno de simbolismos y capaz de despertar nuestro interés por la arqueología. Ruth Galloway es un personaje adorable, muy bien construido. Sin embargo, otros personajes son más convencionales. El final es demasiado artificial. No he podído encontrar una explicación clara de algunos de los acontecimientos narrados. Sin embargo me ha resultado una lectura interesante y, probablemente, me volveré a encontrar con Ruth Galloway de nuevo.

Elly Griffiths es el pseudónimo de Domenica de Rosa, que nació en Londres y se dedicó diez años al mundo editorial antes de pasarse a la escritura de creación. Sus novelas, protagonizadas por Ruth Galloway, se han inspirado en su marido, que renunció a su trabajo en el mundo de las finanzas para dedicarse a la arqueología, y en su tía, que vive en la costa de Norfolk y le llenó la cabeza a su sobrina con los mitos y las leyendas de la zona. Ahora vive con su marido y sus dos hijos cerca de Brighton. The Crossing Places (Quercus, 2009) es la primera novel de la serie. A Room Full of Bones, la cuarta entrega, estará disponible el 7 de febrero de 2012.

8 thoughts on “The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths”

  1. José Ignacio – I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t like The Crossing Places more than you did (although I am glad you found it enjoyable). I have to admit I liked it very, very much. Thanks for your thoughtful and well-written review.

  2. Well, perhaps the ending was a bit too much; yet I loved the story so much for the setting and the character of Ruth. Griffiths is on my must-read list 🙂

  3. I wonder whether this is a book more enjoyed by women, especially those who relate to the character of Ruth in some way? I have to make such sweeping generalisations but sometimes it seems to make sense. Anyway, sorry you didn’t like it a bit more but it can’t always be helped.

  4. Agree with Dorte about the character of Ruth Galloway and the location. It is somewhat rare in crime fiction to find a woman protagonist who is a real woman, who doesn’t know martial arts, 5 languages, who doesn’t dress well or act super-efficiently, multi-tasking at 10 things at once. She is a real person. That is why many women readers like her.
    And the setting, true. This book made me want to visit the eastern coast of England, wade in the marshes, enjoy the sunshine. It sent me to Goggle for photographs and information about the region.

  5. Margot, Dorte, Bernadette, Kathy. I very much appreciate your comments. I did really enjoyed both the character and the setting. As Kathy says Ruth Galloway is a real person (a lovable character) and the setting did also send me to google for pictures of Norfolk and its coast. I was also very much tempted to indicate what Bernadette says, this may be a book more enjoyed by women, specially those who relate to Ruth character in some way.

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