Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Crossing Places: Elly Griffiths


From the back of the paperback edition:
Forensic archeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway is in her late thirties. She lives happily alone with her two cats in a bleak, remote area near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants—not quite earth, not quite sea. But her routine days of digging up bones and other ancient objects are harshly upended when a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach. Detective Chief Inspector Nelson calls Galloway for help, believing they are the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing a decade ago and whose abductor continues to taunt him with bizarre letters containing references to ritual sacrifice, Shakespeare, and the Bible. 
I have come late to this series. But there is one positive to this... I have several more books to read. If the series continues to be as good as many reviewers say, then I have much to look forward to.


I thought this would be an easy review to write and I wanted it to be short and sweet. The story was compelling, both Ruth's personal story and the mystery.  My interest in the book never waned. Yet the resolution of the mystery and Ruth's story was disappointing to me, and I was not sure if I would like future books in the series. This surprised me because I have read numerous reviews of this book and later ones in the series that are extremely positive. So of course I will have to continue reading the series and give at least one more book a try. This will be easy because my husband has the first three books.

This series garners praise for the setting and the characters. Some reviewers liked both these elements in the first book but admitted that the mystery itself was less satisfying. In this book, I did like the development of the two main characters, Ruth and Nelson, and their interactions, but the secondary characters did not do much for me at this point. This is a debut novel, so I should not expect perfection. I did find Ruth's character to be believable and realistic; she isn't perfect and she is not young and strikingly beautiful. She is way more intrepid than me in her work life and her sleuthing, but that is true of almost all female mystery protagonists.

I do not enjoy stories told in third person present tense, but that was a small distraction. As far as how many more books I read in the series, it seems that it comes down to whether they can maintain my interest based on character interactions and story and whether the mystery elements either improve or prove to be less important to me.

Other reviews or overviews are here:  Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, crimepieces, Petrona, Reactions to Reading, View from the Blue House

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Publisher:  Mariner Books, 2010 (orig. pub. 2009) 
Length:   303 pages
Format:   trade paperback
Series:    Ruth Galloway
Setting:   Norfolk, UK
Genre:     Mystery
Source:   Borrowed from my husband

32 comments:

  1. Yes, she's on my list, too. So many books......

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    1. Keishon, I know what you mean. I have so many books I want to read this year that will slide into next year.

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  2. I have about half a dozen favourite crime series and Ruth Galloway is one of those. The first book is not the strongest but I found others unputdownable. Of course, not everyone likes them and they may not be for you, but I'm glad you plan to give them another go.

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    1. Cath, I am glad to hear another vote for the Ruth Galloway series and hope that I do like the next couple of books.

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  3. I have to admit the present tense usage has put me off this series! I'm so pedantic, lol.

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    1. Curt, I am with you on present tense. I can't get used to it. The Last Policeman trilogy is in first person present tense, and I did not even notice until late in the book, so I guess in first person it works for me.

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  4. Hmmm. I cast another vote for Ruth Galloway and her entourage. I like her character a great deal, a middle-aged single mother who is not glamorous, doesn't wear great clothes or make-up, isn't physically fit, eats what she wants, likes cats, etc. What's not to like?
    I think the books are a bit inconsistent in plot line. But some of the later ones are better
    in my opinion.
    The characters have developed. Ruth is more involved with her child, too, and the
    relationships get complicated, especially if her child is in danger.
    I won't skip a book in this series.

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    1. I knew you would, Kathy, I have read your comments on the Elly Griffiths series at other blogs. I will definitely be trying more of these. Will have to wait a few months but I will get there.

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  5. Love this series, though almost as much for the continuing characters as for the plots, though I do also like the history very much. Definitely try another one. This is one oft the few series where I get hold of the new book on the day of publication, full-price....

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    1. Moira, that is devotion, paying full price for the book as soon as it comes out. Luckily most of the authors I would do that for are not putting out new books. I think Glen was attracted to the series by the history, location, and archaeological aspects. I will definitely continue to try the books.

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  6. Thank you, Tracy, for the kind mention. I like this series very, very much for many reasons. I think the characters are evolving nicely and as you say, they are believable. And I love the mix of history and present-day mystery. I know how busy everyone is, but I do hope you'll read more of the series and enjoy it. :-)

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    1. Margot, I am curious as to what happens next with the characters so I will be continuing the books. But, you are right, I have so many "scheduled" to read right now, it will be awhile before I get back to this series.

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  7. Am I those only one distracted by the color of the title on the cover? I hate it, and the cover is quite lovely otherwise. Not sure I would enjoy this one as much as others.

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    1. Ryan, the colors of the title don't bother me, but they do stand out. Otherwise the cover is representative of the mood of the novel. The series is praised for the characters and the use of the setting; my husband found the 2nd one somewhat melodramatic.

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  8. Right, or rather, not - so really not sure how we feel about this one then? Perhaps the wrong book to start with?

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    1. Good question, Sergio, about the best place to start. Definitely, if you read a later novel first, you will know to eliminate one of the characters (or so it seems from reviews I have read). But, since I had read so many reviews and comments at other blogs, I knew this anyway. And I think many readers guess the perpetrator early on, although I did keep mulling over alternatives. My recommendation is try the series (at the beginning or not) because so many readers really love it.

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  9. Well, I'm not as big a fan as Moira who gets the books asap, but I do use the library, which can be finicky, but does carry Elly Griffiths' series.

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    1. Kathy, it is interesting which books can be gotten from the library and others not easily available. Must mean this series does well here in the US (or you have a great library).

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  10. I remember loving this one, but I haven't read any more in the series, not sure why.

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    1. Carol, they say the series gets better and better.

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  11. The series does get better and better.

    My library is weird. It gets some books, but others I repeatedly ask for -- global books -- and none are bought or else one copy is purchased and held at the main branch but noncirculating. That means people have to get there, find the book and a place to read. It's not convenient for most people, so it's not a solution, certainly not for me.

    I end up buying or borrowing books or else being the recipient of books from a generous blogger or author.

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    1. Kathy, I suppose some (fiction) books would work as non-circulating but certainly would require some commitment. An interesting approach. We used the library a lot when my son was growing up, not so much now. Buying books can certainly be expensive, unless I can find them at a small price at the book sale.

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  12. It is a pet peeve of mine. If books were held at my branch library two blocks from my home, I could conceivably go and sit in a/c in a comfortable chair and read, but no guarantees a book would be available for several days for me to read it.

    But the system now is that one copy is held noncirculating at the main branch in Midtown. It is not convenient in a city which has four boroughs outside Manhattan. Most people work and spend time commuting via car, bus or train or a combination of them. People have children to care for, groceries to buy, dinner to make, homework, etc. Or else seniors would read, but many don't travel around the city.

    I have limitations on my mobility, so getting to Midtown to read a book would not be easy.
    So this isn't a solution for most people.

    I request that the library buy one copy for circulating. I'm willing to wait for months.

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    1. I don't blame you, Kathy. It does not sound like a very workable system to have one non-circulating copy at the main branch.

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  13. Tracy, I've often read debut novels and not gone further not because I did not like the first book but because I simply forgot about the author. Now I'm more attentive to the authors I read and try and read at least two or three by the same writer.

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    1. Same here, Prashant. I have way too many series I start and want to continue but don't follow my intentions. There are so many authors to keep up with and I can only read so much.

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  14. I try to sample one book. If I love it, I look for others in the series. If I'm lukewarm, I don't.
    But there are many I like or blog reviews tantalize me, but I just cannot take on more series.
    My TBR lists are truly daunting, not to mention the actual piles of books around here.

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    1. Kathy, I think you have more discipline than me. Especially in that area. I end up buying a lot of books by authors I haven't read and then they sit there. I like to think I have improved but not so sure. I am going to a big book sale in Sept. and it will be hard to restrain myself. Usually the prices are too good to resist and I lose any semblance of self control.

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  15. I couldn't resist a big book sale either. I don't go to The Strand, a famous NYC bookstore that has thousands of used books. I stay away.

    I did get over to Barnes & Noble a few days ago and looked at new fiction and discounted fiction, but I didn't have the energy to start looking at the books too closely. I was afraid to look at them and kept telling myself a mantra, "Don't buy any books. You have enough!" I said it repeatedly to myself, and it worked.

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    1. That is a good mantra, Kathy. I am going to have to practice using some version of that at the book sale. I would love to be able to go to The Strand. It sounds wonderful.

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  16. I will pass on these, too many other books. I hope you enjoy the next one a bit better.

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    1. Me, too, Col. I will probably try the next one in 2015, and we will see.

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