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The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

10350487The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths is the first book in a crimes series that features a female archaeologist named Dr Ruth Galloway. Living on her own with two cats on the windswept coast of Norfolk, bordering the marshlands, is just how no-nonsense pragmatic Dr Ruth likes it. But when a child’s bones are discovered on a nearby beach and the gruff DCI Harry Nelson asks Dr Ruth’s assistance in determining the age of the bones, she finds herself drawn into not only the distant past, but the case of a child who went missing over a decade ago, a case that continues to haunt DCI Nelson to this day.

Far from being able to enjoy her solitude and work, when another child goes missing, Dr Ruth is flung into the present and the urgency that accompanies such a case. Assisting DCI Nelson also means being forced to deal with people she wouldn’t normally – grieving families, angry suspects, and the enigmatic “wizard”, Cathbad. It also requires her to forensically examine a series of letters the DCI has been sent over the years since the first child went missing, letters filled with archaic knowledge, literary smart, experience in archaeology and which taunt and torment Nelson. But when her former tutor, the charismatic and clever, Erik, returns to Norfolk for a sabbatical, Dr Ruth finds the past and present start to collide in ways that are not only sinister, but deadly…

Well-paced and written, this is a book you can lose yourself in as the landscape of Norfolk and its rich and fascinating past come to life. The characters are beautifully drawn and Dr Ruth and Harry in particular are wonderful in their foibles and eccentricities. The plot is good, if a little meandering in parts, but the conclusion was convincing and I enjoyed Dr Ruth’s and Harry’s world so much I reached for the next book upon finishing. A terrific, pleasurable read.

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