At the start of Elly Griffiths’ The Crossing Places, the police find a corpse of a child. Believing it might be the remnants of a girl that went missing ten years ago, they call in archaeologist Professor Ruth Galloway. Sadly, it turns out the remnants are prehistoric. When shortly thereafter another child goes missing, Ruth feels herself dragged into the investigation.
What a beautiful setting. Ruth Galloway is such a likable character, and so very different both from standard crime novel heroes or typical chick lit heroines. She’s forty, overweight and an archaeology geek, a bit self-conscious about all of those, but at the same time has a strong personality. Likewise, her counterpart, deputy inspector Nelson, is also a very likable, normal, albeit scruffy person, with normal emotions and normal problems.
The story moves along fluently and provides plenty of hints and false leads as to who the murder might be. There are very few slow scenes, and even the few “infodumps” where Ruth explains all sorts of archaeological terms fit well into the story and are only mildly annoying.
The only downside to the whole book for me was that it was written in the present tense. This seems to have become a trend in books as of late, and I find it quite annoying. The odd tense regularly distracts me from the story and kicks me out of immersion. But in this case, it could not really destroy the book—more Ruth Galloway for me.
I can recommend this book to all friends of “whodunit” crime novels who are looking for a bit of mystery and unusually usual and very likable protagonists.