The Crossing Places

by Elly Griffiths

The exciting beginning to a captivating crime series featuring quirky, tart-tongued archaeologist Ruth Galloway as she investigates a child's bones found on a nearby beach, thought to be the remains of a little girl who went missing ten years before.

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780547386065
  • ISBN-10: 0547386060
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication Date: 09/28/2010
  • Carton Quantity: 24

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About the Book
About the Author
  • The first entry in the acclaimed Ruth Galloway series follows the "captivating"* archaeologist as she investigates a child's bones found on a nearby beach, thought to be the remains of a little girl who went missing ten years before. 


    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. Then a second girl goes missing and Nelson receives a new letter—exactly like the ones about Lucy. 


    Is it the same killer? Or a copycat murderer, linked in some way to the site near Ruth’s remote home? 


    *Louise Penny


  • Waking is like rising from the dead. The slow climb out of

    sleep, shapes appearing out of blackness, the alarm clock

    ringing like the last trump. Ruth flings out an arm and

    sends the alarm crashing to the floor, where it carries on

    ringing reproachfully. Groaning, she levers herself upright

    and pulls up the blind. Still dark. It's just not right, she tells

    herself, wincing as her feet touch the cold floorboards.

    Neolithic man would have gone to sleep when the sun set

    and woken when it rose. What makes us think this is the

    right way round? Falling asleep on the sofa during

    Newsnight, then dragging herself upstairs to lie sleepless

    over a Rebus book, listen to the World Service on the

    radio, count Iron Age burial sites to make herself sleep and

    now this; waking in the darkness feeling like death. It just

    wasn't right somehow.

     In the shower, the water unglues her eyes and sends her

    hair streaming down her back. This is baptism, if you like.

    Ruth's parents are Born Again Christians and are fans of

    Full Immersion For Adults (capitals obligatory). Ruth can

    quite see the attraction, apart from the slight problem of not

    believing in God. Still, her parents are Praying For Her (capitals

    again), which should be a comfort but somehow isn't.

     Ruth rubs herself vigorously with a towel and stares

    unseeingly into the steamy mirror. She knows what she

    will see and the knowledge is no more comforting than

    her parents' prayers. Shoulder-length brown hair, blue

    eyes, pale skin - and however she stands on the scales,

    which are at present banished to the broom cupboard -

    she weighs twelve and a half stone. She sighs (I am not

    defined by my weight, fat is a state of mind) and squeezes

    toothpaste onto her brush. She has a very beautiful smile,

    but she isn't smiling now and so this too is low on the list

    of comforts.

     Clean, damp-footed, she pads back into the bedroom.

    She has lectures today so will have to dress slightly more

    formally than usual. Black trousers, black shapeless top.

    She hardly looks as she selects the clothes. She likes

    colour and fabric; in fact she has quite a weakness for

    sequins, bugle beads and diamanté. You wouldn't know

    this from her wardrobe though. A dour row of dark

    trousers and loose, dark jackets. The drawers in her pine

    dressing table are full of black jumpers, long cardigans

    and opaque tights. She used to wear jeans until she hit

    size sixteen and now favours cords, black, of course.

    Jeans are too young for her anyhow. She will be forty

    next year.

     Dressed, she negotiates the stairs. The tiny cottage has

    very steep stairs, more like a ladder than anything else. 'I'll

    never be able to manage those' her mother had said on her

    one and only visit. Who's asking you to, Ruth had replied

    silently. Her parents had stayed at the local B and B as

    Ruth has only one bedroom; going upstairs was strictly

    unnecessary (there is a downstairs loo but it is by the

    kitchen, which her mother considers unsanitary). The

    stairs lead directly into the sitting room: sanded wooden

    floor, comfortable faded sofa, large flat-screen TV, books

    covering every available surface. Archaeology books

    mostly but also murder mysteries, cookery books, travel

    guides, doctor-nurse romances. Ruth is nothing if not

    eclectic in her tastes. She has a particular fondness for children's

    books about ballet or horse-riding, neither of which

    she has ever tried.

     The kitchen barely has room for a fridge and a cooker

    but Ruth, despite the books, rarely cooks. Now she

    switches on the kettle and puts bread into the toaster,

    clicking on Radio 4 with a practised hand. Then she

    collects her lecture notes and sits at the table by the front

    window. Her favourite place. Beyond her front garden

    with its windblown grass and broken blue fence there is

    nothingness. Just miles and miles of marshland, spotted

    with stunted gorse bushes and criss-crossed with small,

    treacherous streams. Sometimes, at this time of year, you

    see great flocks of wild geese wheeling across the sky,

    their feathers turning pink in the rays of the rising sun.

    But today, on this grey winter morning, there is not a

    living creature as far as the eye can see. Everything is

    pale and washed out, grey-green merging to grey-white

    as the marsh meets the sky. Far off is the sea, a line of

    darker grey, seagulls riding in on the waves. It is utterly

    desolate and Ruth has absolutely no idea why she loves

    it so much.

     She eats her toast and drinks her tea (she prefers coffee

    but is saving herself for a proper espresso at the university).

    As she does so, she leafs through her lecture notes, originally

    typewritten but now scribbled over with a palimpsest

    of additional notes in different coloured pens. 'Gender and

    Prehistoric Technology', 'Excavating Artefacts', 'Life and

    Death in the Mesolithic', 'The Role of Animal Bone in

    Excavations'. Although it is only early November, the

    Christmas term will soon be over and this will be her last

    week of lectures. Briefly, she conjures up the faces of her

    students: earnest, hard-working, slightly dull. She only

    teaches postgraduates these days and rather misses the

    casual, hungover good humour of the undergraduates. Her

    students are so keen, waylaying her after lectures to talk

    about Lindow Man and Boxgrove Man and whether

    women really would have played a significant role in

    prehistoric society. Look around you, she wants to shout,

    we don't always play a significant role in this society. Why

    do you think a gang of grunting hunter-gatherers would

    have been any more enlightened than we?

     Thought for the Day seeps into her unconscious,

    reminding her that it is time to leave. 'In some ways, God

    is like an iPod …' She puts her plate and cup in the sink

    and leaves down food for her cats, Sparky and Flint. As

    she does so, she answers the ever-present sardonic interviewer

    in her head. 'OK, I'm a single, overweight woman

    on my own and I have cats. What's the big deal? And,

    OK, sometimes I do speak to them but I don't imagine

    that they answer back and I don't pretend that I'm any

    more to them than a convenient food dispenser.' Right

    on cue, Flint, a large ginger Tom, squeezes himself

    through the cat flap and fixes her with an unblinking,

    golden stare.

     'Does God feature on our Recently Played list or do we

    sometimes have to press Shuffle?'

     Ruth strokes Flint and goes back into the sitting room to

    put her papers into her rucksack. She winds a red scarf (her

    only concession to colour: even fat people can buy scarves)

    round her neck and puts on her anorak. Then she turns out

    the lights and leaves the cottage.

     Ruth's cottage is one in a line of three on the edge of

    the Saltmarsh. One is occupied by the warden of the bird

    sanctuary, the other by weekenders who come down in

    summer, have lots of toxic barbecues and park their 4 °-

    4 in front of Ruth's view. The road is frequently flooded

    in spring and autumn and often impassable by midwinter.

    'Why don't you live somewhere more convenient?' her

    colleagues ask. 'There are some lovely properties in

    King's Lynn, or even Blakeney if you want to be near to

    nature.' Ruth can't explain, even to herself, how a girl

    born and brought up in South London can feel such a pull

    to these inhospitable marshlands, these desolate

    mudflats, this lonely, unrelenting view. It was research

    that first brought her to the Saltmarsh but she doesn't

    know herself what it is that makes her stay, in the face of

    so much opposition. 'I'm used to it,' is all she says.

    'Anyway the cats would hate to move.' And they laugh.

    Good ol...

  • Praise for the Ruth Galloway Mystery Series

    "Elly Griffiths draws us all the way back to prehistoric times…Highly atmospheric." —The New York Times Book Review

    "Galloway is an everywoman, smart, successful and a little bit unsure of herself. Readers will look forward to learning more about her." —USA Today 

    "Ruth Galloway is a remarkable, delightful character…A must-read for fans of crime and mystery fiction." —Associated Press

    "Forensic archeologist and academic Ruth Galloway is a captivating amateur sleuth—an inspired creation. I identified with her insecurities and struggles, and cheered her on. " —Louise Penny, author of the bestselling Armand Gamache series

    "These books are must-reads." —Deborah Crombie, author of the Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series

    "[Ruth Galloway’s] an uncommon, down-to-earth heroine whose acute insight, wry humor, and depth of feeling make her a thoroughly engaging companion." —Erin Hart, Agatha and Anthony Award nominated author of Haunted Ground and Lake of Sorrows

    "A wonderfully rich mixture of ancient and contemporary, superstition and rationality, with a cast of druids, dreamers and assorted tree-huggers as well as some thoroughly modern villains…A great series." —The Guardian

    "[An] excellent series…Skillful and engaging." —The Globe and Mail

    "Griffiths is one of England’s freshest mystery writers. Her novels combine a dramatic sense of place with a complicated mystery, and with each new installment, her character of Ruth Galloway becomes more complex and dynamic." —Curled Up with a Good Book

    "Griffiths does a lot to humanize forensic archaeology and serves up great dollops of historical details in her Ruth Galloway series…Griffiths is great at conveying the archaeologist’s passion for finds, forensic or historic." —Booklist, starred review

    "Griffiths is a true mystery writer." —Ann Arbor News