Monday, February 15, 2010

"The Crossing Places"

Elly Griffiths' Ruth Galloway novels take for their inspiration Griffiths' husband, who gave up a city job to train as an archeologist, and her aunt, who lives on the Norfolk coast and who filled Griffiths' head with the myths and legends of that area. The first Ruth Galloway novel, The Crossing Places, is new in US bookstores; the second, The Janus Stone, has just been released in the UK.

She applied the Page 69 Test to The Crossing Places and reported the following:
On p69 of The Crossing Places, Ruth, my rather reclusive archaeologist heroine, is visited by her neighbour, Sammy, who invites her to a New Year’s Eve party. This is a slightly unusual scene as Ruth doesn’t get invited to many parties. However, as often happens, she actually has another invitation for the same night or, as she puts it ‘she has two invitations to refuse.’ In fact, she does end up going to Sammy’s party and this proves a very significant evening – both for her and for the plot. So maybe p69 is important after all.

In fact, looking again at the page, I see that it is more representative than I thought. Ruth’s summing up of Sammy, ‘highlighted hair, tanned skin, honed figure’, is typical, both of her dismissiveness and her insecurity. She thinks of Sammy’s family, ‘loud teenagers who played music and tramped over the Saltmarsh with surfboards.’ Ruth’s beloved Saltmarsh, a desolate but beautiful coastal landscape, is an important character in the book. Her attitude towards this inhospitable place does change, though, by the end of the book – as does her attitude to teenagers.
Finally, Sammy asks Ruth what she does.

‘I teach archaeology.’

‘Archaeology! Ed would love that. He never misses Time Team...’
Ruth’s job is who she is. She is an archaeologist, skilled at interpreting layers of time and memory. Ruth is called in by the police when a body is discovered on the Saltmash. The body turns out to be over two thousand years old but Ruth is soon drawn into a more recent case, that of a missing child. This investigation eventually makes Ruth re-evaluate everything. Her past is not what she thought it was, her friends, too, present new and sinister faces. Her relationship with brusque police inspector Harry Nelson threatens to challenge all her certainties. Worst of all, there is someone out there who knows about archaeology, ritual and death; someone who is determined to silence Ruth forever.
Read an excerpt from The Crossing Places, and learn more about the book and author at Elly Griffiths' website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue