The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (20 Books of Summer #3)

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 on wild geese wheeling across the sky, their feathers turning pink the 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.

6688087Elly Griffiths came to my attention through a couple of bloggers I follow, Cleo at Cleopatra Loves Books and Fiction Fan at FictionFan’s Book Reviews.  I love a good mystery, especially one set in the UK, and this one was right up my alley. The Crossing Places has a great sense of atmosphere, a likeable heroine in forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway, and even a bit of believable romantic tension. I’ve mentioned before how mysteries are my bookish “palate-cleanser” and my go-to escape genre, and this one was an absorbing read that made me eager to read more in the series. I read it in two days!

From Goodreads: When a child’s bones are found on a desolate beach nearby, Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson calls Galloway for help. Nelson thinks he has found the remains of Lucy Downey, a little girl who went missing ten years ago. Since her disappearance he has been receiving bizarre letters about her, letters with references to ritual and sacrifice.
      The bones actually turn out to be two thousand years old, but Ruth is soon drawn into the Lucy Downey case and into the mind of the letter writer, who seems to have both archaeological knowledge and eerie psychic powers. Then another child goes missing and the hunt is on to find her. 

Besides the descriptive sense of atmosphere, where the Norfolk-area marshy landscape is practically a character in the book, I liked that Ruth was a fairly level-headed, smart, competent woman, late 30’s, good job, happily living with her cats in a fairly isolated area. The only thing that bothered me really were a couple of comments about her weight. She discloses early on that she’s 12.5 stone and I Googled that – being an American I have no clue what a stone is! It translates to 175 pounds, which IS NOT THAT BIG. It certainly wouldn’t preclude a woman from being able to fit in a car or being able to walk a couple of miles to a marshy crime scene without being out of breath (both little comments made in the story.) I’m sensitive about this issue, I admit, but honestly I don’t think she’s big enough to even make mention of it for character development’s sake. Oh well. One good thing is that it didn’t seem to stop her from enjoying the attention of men – thank goodness for that! (There are a couple of men interested in Ruth – I won’t spoil anything but things do get a bit messy and I’ll be interested to see how things develop in later installments!)

Not much in-depth analysis of this one, really. I didn’t mark many places as I read  – I was turning pages too quickly! It was a realistic feeling mystery that wasn’t too gory or gruesome – a delicate balance in this genre, I find. Appealing characters, absorbing mystery, and I didn’t guess the “whodunnit” until very late in the game. I have the second in the series, The Janus Stone, checked out and sitting on my bedside bookshelf. I don’t know when I’ll get to it but I may make it one of my two remaining “Reader’s Choice” picks for 20 Books of Summer.

Have you read anything by Elly Griffiths? Do you like your mysteries on the cozier side or the more realistic side?

(This is the third book I’ve written about so far from my 20 Books of Summer challenge list.)





17 thoughts on “The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (20 Books of Summer #3)

  1. This character is around what fat activists would call “Lane Bryant fat,” meaning she’s heavier but still fitting into society reasonably well (unlikely strangers yell things at her while driving by) and able to find clothes. I tend to think if Bridget Jones, who, at 140ish pounds, couldn’t shut the hell up about weight and exacerbated the negative perceptions people have about fat. Good on you for pointing it out.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. That drives me crazy. I’m 170! Come on, people. I don’t know mentioning weight matters unless it’s critical to character development in some way. Her weight was a critical part of Bridget Jones’s weight obsessive-compulsive self-loathing personality. The book wouldn’t have been as over-the-edge if she wasn’t like that. That doesn’t forgive her comments, but she also isn’t meant to be taken seriously in my eye.

    Still. What’s the point of these silly weight comments if they aren’t essential to the character? I don’t view most of the protagonists in books I read as skinny little models.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point. I didn’t think they were necessary at all to describe Ruth’s character – because otherwise she seemed fairly content and well-adjusted in her life and work. It will be interesting to see if she mentions it again in later installments.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Haha – Ruth’s obsession with her weight drives me insane! But I’m glad you enjoyed it otherwise – I loved this series for ages, though I’ve felt the last couple dragged a bit, but you’ve got loads to go before you get to them! And then there’s her other series, the Stephens and Mephisto books, which are excellent too – historical crime set in the 1950s. Your poor TBR! 😉

    Thanks for the mention and the link! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re most welcome! I’m glad it’s not just me who is annoyed by this. Sounds like she continues to mention it in later books then? I’ll be prepared for it. And yes, I probably will try her other series too. Poor TBR indeed! Story of my life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I really appreciate you pointing out the weird comments about Ruth’s weight, that’s so strange the author would do this-are they trying to make women more self conscious than they already are? Sigh.
    At least she lives happily with her cats, that makes me feel better.

    I haven’t read anything by this author but the books sound good so far!

    Liked by 1 person

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