Book Review: The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

The Crossing Places is the first book in the Ruth Galloway Mysteries by Elly Griffiths.

Quick Review (read on for full review)

Atmospheric and absorbing, The Crossing Places is a dark tale full of twists and turns and rich, vivid storytelling.  Ruth Galloway is an interesting main character, and this a fantastic start to a series.  I can’t wait to read more!  5 / 5

Summary (from Goodreads)

Forensic archaeologist Dr. Ruth Galloway is in her late thirties and 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?

Favourite Quote

“The human desire is to live, to cheat death, to live forever.  It is the same over all the ages.  It is why we build monuments to death so that they live on after we die.”

(From The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths, page 413)


This book, like so many others, has been languishing on my TBR list for a ridiculous amount of time.  And now I’ve read it, I cannot understand why it had taken me so long to get it.  Every reader has those books which they feel were written for them.  The Crossing Places was one of those books for me.

There was no question of this book earning anything less than a 5 star rating from me…Dark, atmospheric and absorbing, it covers the subjects I have a great love for: archaeology, prehistory, geography, spirituality…all bound up wonderfully with a dark mystery.

The sense of place can not be underestimated in this book; the landscape is almost a character, dangerous yet not malevolent, an ever-present witness but emotionally detached from whatever unfolds.  The setting is brought to life in all its grey starkness.  Indeed, it is the perfect location for this storyline.  Liminality is a big theme running through it: we are between places…the earth and the sea, the past and the present, good and evil.

Ruth Galloway is a wonderfully complex character.  Intelligent, strong, independent and flawed, I warmed to her immediately.  She was depicted as human and imperfect and thus realistic.  DCI Nelson was also a great character.  Sensible, logical, he is practical yet caring.  I’m looking forward to seeing how they get along as the series continues.

The writing style of the author and the numerous plot twists and turns ensured my attention never wavered.  An undercurrent of mystery pervades every aspect of this book.  I guessed the culprit pretty early on, but as the story progressed I was repeatedly left wondering if I was right after all.  There are a few passages that are hard to read, but the topics are handled very sensitively.

The second book in the series is The Janus Stone, and I just know it won’t take me as long to get around to reading that as it did this first instalment.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough!


Sammi Loves Books Reading Challenge 2019 – I’ve chosen this book for challenge #12 in the list: a book that’s sat on your shelf for longer than you care to remember


4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths

  1. Pingback: Bookish Reflections – January & February 2020 | Sammi Loves Books

  2. As if the cover wasn’t enough to haul me in (looks like many of my taken locally photos), you then mentioned those not-to-be-resisted ingredients. The Crossing Places now heads my TBR list. I thank you for showing it to me

    Liked by 1 person

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