Saturday, December 25, 2010

Best crime fiction of 2010: Part I

The editors of January Magazine came up with a list (in two parts) of the best crime fiction of 2010. One title to make the grade:
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (Mariner Books) 320 pages

A forensic archaeologist at England’s University of North Norfolk, Ruth Galloway is asked by a local police detective to help identify human remains discovered in a salt marsh near her home. Hopeful that they might be the bones of a victim of a killer from a decade earlier, the cop is disappointed to learn that those remains are actually ancient. When news of this discovery gets out, however, an archaeologist and former lover from Ruth’s past returns to the site, opening old wounds and raising new worries. Ruth has her hands full analyzing the remains, but when a second child suddenly disappears in circumstances eerily similar to the first, she is abruptly torn back to the present: Is there a murderer out there, using her backyard as his very own killing ground? The Crossing Places offers an interesting mix of strong, though not always likable leading characters, and a well-crafted, suspenseful plot. Yet it is the novel’s well-defined setting that makes it stand out from the herd of psychological thrillers. Much of this tale’s action takes place on the bleak and desolate Norfolk coast, and author Griffiths succeeds wonderfully in revealing to the reader the ominous beauty of this landscape and its effects upon those who live nearby. This is a classic case of a story’s setting driving its character, much in the tradition of Daphne du Maurier’s timeless novel, Rebecca. -- Jim Napier
Read about another book on the list.

The Page 69 Test: The Crossing Places.

--Marshal Zeringue