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The Dr Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths set in Norfolk combine sleuthing with archaeology and druids

A perfect winter read for crime fiction fans

LOVERS of murder mysteries will be pleased to know there are – to date – 12 books in the Dr Ruth Galloway series and promise of more to come.

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths introduces us to head of forensic archaeology at the fictional University of North Norfolk Dr Ruth Galloway and to DCI Harry Nelson who calls for her expertise when some old bones are discovered on the Norfolk marshes.

What follows is an entertaining and easy-to-read thriller, with the usual red herrings which the author mixes in with her knowledge of the area, as well as archaeological practices. Throw in the odd druid and ancient folklore and you have the perfect read for a chilly winter’s afternoon or evening when there is nothing better than settling into your favourite armchair with a good book in one hand and a glass of something in the other.

Elly Griffiths combines vivid descriptions of the bleak Norfolk landscape with a group of colourful characters.

Nelson is happily married to the gorgeous Michelle and they have two daughters, but he is also strangely drawn to the rather frumpy Ruth, who lives alone with her two cats in a desolate part of the marshlands. Ruth Galloway enjoys her solitary existence, but inevitably becomes more involved in the murder investigation, which combines the discovery of some ancient bones with the modern-day kidnapping of a young child.

The story also harks back to the disappearance of a young girl 10 years before – Nelson’s first big case and one which he never resolved. The different strands are all cleverly intertwined as the unlikely pair gradually solve the different mysteries at some cost to their own safety.

Without spoiling anything, it is a shared experience with a twist, which keeps the main protagonists inextricably linked and paves the way for future plot lines and joint sleuthing.

Nelson’s team at the police station – Sergeants Johnson and Clough and his boss Superintendent Whitcliffe – soon become familiar characters. As does Ruth’s boss the publicity hungry Phil, her friend Shona and the man who got her into archaeology – Erik.

Then there is the purple-cloaked druid Cathbad – aka lab technician Michael Malone. Cathbad has a sixth sense and tends to be in the right – or wrong – place at the right time. He is a fabulous literary creation and a key player throughout the unfolding mystery.

The only problem is, if you do enjoy The Crossing Places you will want to keep reading the next one and so on – as I did – and I am now eagerly anticipating book number 13.

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