Griffiths, Elly - 'The Crossing Places'
This is the first novel by Elly Griffiths and for a first novel it's a cracker.
The basic plot is that some bones are found on a beach in Norfolk and forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway is called in to help date them. The bones turn out to be about two thousand years old and DCI Harry Nelson is disappointed. He was hoping they'd be the remains of a young girl who went missing ten years previously. He's been getting strange letters about the case ever since. Then when another girl goes missing you know that Ruth is going to regret getting involved.
I have to say that I really liked this book. The plot was fairly straight-forward but was well-written and bolstered by a fine cast of characters - from the totally wonderful Ruth, through the well-developed Harry Nelson to the range of odd-bods who make up the supporting cast. Ruth was just great. I loved her from the start - she wasn't one of those over-polished, beautiful heroines that are the bane of the genre. She was a real person and her vitality simply leapt off the page. I wanted to be her - I wanted to live in her cottage and have her life. She made mistakes, and she got things wrong and she misjudged people and I loved her for it. Her relationship with Nelson in particular was very well handled.
The location was another plus point here, full of atmosphere and menace. The Norfolk coast, with its marshes, beaches, fogs and Iron Age archaeology, played a major part in the book. Plot wise, well I had worked out what was happening before the end but to be honest I really didn't mind. I'm not easy to fool and I can forgive a writer, especially a first novelist, if they don't quite manage to pull the wool so long as the other elements are good - and they were. They were really good.I'm definitely looking forward to what happens next for Ruth and Harry.
Pat Austin, England