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The Crossing Places: The Dr Ruth Galloway Mysteries 1

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Dr Ruth Galloway is in her late 30s. When she's not digging up bones or other ancient objects, she lectures at a university in Norfolk. She lives, alone but happily so, in a bleak, marshy area called Saltmarsh overlooking the sea and Norfolk's vast skies with her cats and Radio 4 for company. She's a salty character - quirky. When a child's bones are found in the marshes, near a dig that Ruth and her former boyfriend Peter worked on ten years before, Ruth is called upon to date them. They turn out to be bronze-age bones and DCI Harry Nelson, who called on Ruth for help, is disappointed. He had hoped they would be the bones of a child called Lucy who's been missing, presumed dead, for ten years. He has been getting letters about her ever since - odd letters with references to ritual and sacrifice, and including quotes from the Bible and Shakespeare. Then a second girl goes missing and Nelson gets another letter - like the ones about Lucy. Is it the same killer? Is it a ritual murder, linked in some way to the site near Ruth's remote home? Then one of Ruth's cats is killed and clearly she's in danger from a killer who knows that her expert knowledge is being used to help the police with their enquiries. Review. 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. The Crossing Places marks the beginning of a captivating new crime series featuring an irresistible heroine. 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)