When she's not digging up bones or other ancient objects, Ruth Galloway lectures at the University of North Norfolk. She lives happily alone in a remote, wild place called Saltmarsh overlooking the North Sea under Norfolk's vast skies. For company she has her cats Flint and Sparky, and Radio 4. When a child's bones are found in the marshes near an ancient site that Ruth worked on ten years earlier, Ruth is asked to date them. The bones turn out to be two thousand years old, and DCI Harry Nelson, who called on Ruth for help, is disappointed. He'd hoped they would be the bones of a child called Lucy who's been missing for ten years. He's been getting letters about her ever since - bizarre notes with references to ritual and sacrifice and quoting the Bible and Shakespeare. Then a second girl goes missing and Nelson receives another letter similar to the ones about Lucy. Soon it becomes clear that Ruth is in grave danger from a killer who knows that her expert knowledge is being used to help the police with their enquiries.
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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.
Amazon Exclusive Essay: "A Bridge to the Afterlife" by Elly Griffiths, Author of The Crossing Places
The Crossing Places is set on desolate marshland in Norfolk. It is thought that prehistoric people saw marshland as sacred. Because it is neither land nor sea but a mixture of both, they saw it as a kind of bridge to the afterlife--neither land nor sea, neither life nor death. This is why they often buried treasure, or even bodies, at the edge of marshland. There have been several discoveries of so-called bog bodies, prehistoric bodies preserved in peaty marshland soil. The most famous of these is probably Tollund Man, discovered in Denmark in 1950. Tollund Man, who dates from the Iron Age, was hanged before being thrown into a peat bog. Was he a sacrifice to the gods, an offering in return for safe passage across the treacherous ground? No one really knows.
Norfolk is on the east coast of England. Less than ten thousand years ago, this land would have been part of the European landmass, now Scandinavia. It's no wonder, then, that Norse belief was strong in the area. My story is fictional but there have been many real-life archaeological discoveries on the Norfolk coast. At Holme-next-the-Sea, a wooden henge was discovered, believed to date from the Bronze Age. At the center of the henge circle was a tree, planted upside down. Was this Yggdrasil, the world tree of Norse legend? The tree on which Odin was sacrificed for the good of mankind? Again, no one knows. As Ruth, the forensic archaeologist in my book, says, "the questions are more important than the answers."
(Photo © Jerry Bauer)
A winning debut The first-rate characters and chilling story are entrancing from start to finish.
Kirkus Reviews, starred review
When she s not digging up bones or other ancient objects, quirky, tart-tongued archaeologist Ruth Galloway lives happily alone with her cats in a remote area of England called the Saltmarsh, 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, leters with references to ritual and sacrifice, some even including quotes from the Bible and Shakespeare.
The bones 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.
The Crossing Places marks the beginning of an exciting new crime series featuring an irresistible heroine.
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