Thursday, August 2, 2012

Group Review: The Crossing Places

Summary:  When she’s not digging up bones or other ancient objects, quirky, tart-tongued archaeologist Ruth Galloway lives happily alone in a remote area called Saltmarsh near Norfolk, land that was sacred to its Iron Age inhabitants - not quite earth, not quite sea.

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. As the letter writer moves closer and the windswept Norfolk landscape exerts its power, Ruth finds herself in completely new territory – and in serious danger. ~

Alice's Review:  At the rate that I had been reading lately, I think it is safe to say it has been a while since I finished a book in 2 days. Yet here I was, wrapped up in Ruth’s world, wondering who was murdered these young girls, developing a mild interest in archaeology, and yes, I have added North Norfolk England to my bucket list of places to visit.  I was as enamored with the Saltmarsh as the woman who lived there. 

One of the reasons I really enjoyed Ruth’s company is I can relate to her.  I know nothing of archeology, but I know what it is like to push 40 as a childless woman.  I know the feeling of being left out of the mother’s club, of being told I will never appreciate my mother because I don’t have children of my own.  Like Ruth, I had a life changing moment that made me realize that last criticism is a bunch of malarkey.  I can’t write enough about how much I liked Ruth.  Through all that happened to her, she never played the victim.  She was smart, fearless, quick-witted and sincere.  She was passionate about her work and not afraid of the choices she made and the woman she is.  To Ms. Griffiths’ credit, she created a woman whom I will continue to follow.  I want to know what happens to her next. 

Ruth Galloway isn’t the only enjoyable character in The Crossing Places.  I quite enjoyed Harry Nelson.  Okay, fine, I have a mad literary crush on him.  And thanks to his wife, I can only picture him being played by George Clooney.   He is rough around the edges, but he’s resilient and he doesn’t give up.  My other favorite character in this novel is Cathbad.  Oh, man, he made me laugh.  I can only hope that he comes back in future books.  Is he a geek?  Oh yes.  Is he intelligent?  Yes again.  Is he the comic relief in this novel?  Absolutely.  He brought a touch of humor when one was needed.

The story moves quickly.  There were a couple of plot twists and turns I did not expect.  In the same token, there were a couple I guessed in advance.  Even so, this didn’t deter me from absolutely loving this the novel.  I must commend Ms. Griffiths’ for the way she handled the story of child abduction and murder.  She wrote the perspectives of the girls’ parents, Ruth and Nelson with compassion, caring, and understanding.  I felt it was earnest and touching. 

Thanks to Jenn and Elly Griffiths, I am now a Ruth Galloway fan and look forward to reading more.

Final Take: 5/5

Jenn's Review: There was a fair bit of buzz surrounding this novel when it was first published in the US.  I'm no stranger to importing books from the UK (I own English versions of Meg Gardiner's novels as well as J.K. Rowling's) and here was a new forensic archaeologist series already imported for me!  It really seemed too good to pass up.

Elly Griffiths has written an entertaining, fast paced mystery.  I found myself easily gliding through the pages and read it in a day.  Having read almost every Kathy Reichs novel I was more than a little startled by the differences between a forensic anthropologist and a forensic archaeologist.  The speculation was killing me and I surprise myself by saying that I honestly missed the lab and the analysis of the bones.  The other thing that I had trouble getting used to was that the novel is written in the third person, present tense which I found jarring.  Every time I thought I'd gotten used to it, I'd find myself distracted by it all over again, because in truth, I'd just been converting everything to past tense as I read.  I think Ms. Griffiths intended for the voice to give it a sense of immediacy, but I found it disruptive.

The characters are likable, if not slightly stereotypical.  While I didn't dislike Ruth, I wasn't enamored with her either.  Actually, none of the characters were particularly memorable for me, perhaps because the present tense limited their development.  The biggest disappointment was that I picked the culprit about 50 pages in and no matter how many twists and turns Ms. Griffiths threw in, she did not shake me from my convictions.  I'm also not quite sure how I feel about the final personal plot twist for Ruth.

Despite my criticisms, this was an enjoyable read.  This is Elly Griffiths debut novel and I think my expectations were too high.  It will be interesting to see how the series grows with her.   Will I continue reading the Ruth Galloway mysteries?  Probably.  It makes for a perfect light mystery read.

Final Take:  3.75/5

Julie's Review: I wasn't sure what to expect with this book being a fan of Kathy Reichs' Temperance Brennan books, I didn't want it to be similar. Yes I know forensic anthropology is different than forensic archeology but they they are scientific and yes that stuff can go over my head if it's too detailed. I have to say that this is not the case with The Crossing Places. Ms. Griffiths keeps it simple even without making you feel like you are being talked down to in any way. It was an solid introduction to what will probably turn out to be another great forensic series.

I have to admit that at times Ruth got on my nerves. It wasn't so much that she was whining, because it wasn't that, it was more like she kept second guessing herself in her personal life.  I get it we all do that, but I felt like she kept singing the same tune throughout the book and it got under my skin. I want Ruth to be happy and to be decisive. I want her to use her decisiveness from her work into her personal life.

What really hooked me into the book was the mystery surrounding the abduction of Lucy Downey and then of Scarlet Henderson. You want to know if the girls are all right and if they will be rescued.

Ms. Griffiths does an excellent job of placing "red herrings" within the novel. You think you have it figured out but then she reveals something else that makes you stop and rework your thoughts.

I really loved Harry Nelson. He was rough and gruff but he really wanted to find Lucy and Scarlet. Lucy was a case that had been haunting him for 10 years. He wanted closure for himself, her parents and perhaps Lucy. He had been put through the ringer and having another missing girl wasn't helping his status either.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and commend Jenn on another good pick. Will I be rushing out to finish the series? Not immediately, but I will get around to it at some point in the future.

Final Take: 3.75/5



Unknown August 4, 2012 at 2:34 PM  

I'm curious about this book especially after reading all of your reviews. I love British books and mysteries and I especially interested in Ruth's character.
Alice, I was especially taken with your review. I am very much able to understand being 40-ish and without children. There was a time when this bothered me quite a bit but not so much now. This and so much more of Ruth as you described her made me want to read this book and to get to know her.

Thank you to all of you for your terrific reviews and a book to look forward to.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by 2008

Back to TOP