Friday, July 24, 2015

Understated Heroine Makes Intriguing British Mystery Series Especially Appealing

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

No one understands Dr. Ruth Galloway's choice to live out on the Saltmarsh, a remote area of coastland near Norfolk.  Sacred to its ancient inhabitants, the marsh is an in-between place—part earth, part sea. Known for its eerie atmosphere and extreme, unpredictable weather, the location suits Ruth just fine.  The 39-year-old delights in solitude, especially when it can be found in a place that stirs her imagination and stokes her soul.  The Saltmarsh is, in fact, the perfect spot for an archaeologist who prefers her cats to human company, ancient bones to live people.  

When remains are found near her home, Ruth is called on by Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson to help identify the bones.  Nelson believes them to be those of Lucy Downey, a young girl who disappeared ten years ago.  Although Nelson is off on the age of the skeleton—by about two thousand years—Ruth can't stop thinking about young Lucy.  When another child vanishes, her abductor sends police cryptic letters with puzzling references to archaeology and mythology.  Out of his depth, Nelson again seeks Ruth's help, this time to decipher the letters.  Obsessed with finding the person responsible for the little girl's disappearance, the detective and his unlikely new partner chase down every lead they see.  With the clock ticking, they will risk everything to solve the case.  Can they do it?  Or will another child suffer the same unknown fate as Lucy Downey?  

Libraries and bookstores are full of mystery novels, some good, some not so much.  When I need help deciding which is which, I rely on one source—Kay's Reading Life.  One of my favorite bloggers, Kay always has great recommendations.  Case in point: the Ruth Galloway series by English author Elly Griffiths.  The first installment, The Crossing Places, offers everything I love in a mystery—a rich, atmospheric setting; complex, intriguing characters; and an exciting plot that keeps me guessing.  I especially love our understated heroine, whose intelligence, generous heart and subtle humor make her very appealing.  All of these elements combined to create a compelling mystery that I had a difficult time putting down.  With its unique, but subtle blend of science, drama, mystery, and even romance, The Crossing Places makes an excellent first book in a series that I've been enjoying immensely.

(Readalikes:  Other books in the Ruth Galloway series—The Janus Stone; The House at Sea's End; A Room Full of Bones; A Dying Fall; The Outcast Dead; and The Ghost Fields)


If this were a movie, it would be rated:

for language (no F-bombs), violence, and sexual content

To the FTC, with love:  Another library fine find


  1. Absolutely one of my favourite crime series. Ruth is such a refreshing heroine.

  2. This is absolutely one of my favorite mystery series. Love Ruth. Such a different sort of heroine. A 'regular' person. And doesn't her little cottage on the saltmarsh sound appealing. Thanks for compliments, Susan! I do love my mysteries. Enjoy this series!!

  3. This is one of my favorite series! Love Ruth, she seems so real.

  4. I might have to try this one. Something about the British atmosphere always attracts me. I've thoroughly enjoyed the Flavie de Luce series and also David Marks' Detective Sergeant McAvoy series.


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