Every year I do a series of Xmas & New Year entries on the blog, helped and encouraged by suggestions and recommendations from my lovely readers. You can see some of the pictures in this entry, and find (endless!) more Xmas books via the tags at the bottom of the page.
The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
Ruth did not intend to go to Sammy’s New Year’s Eve party. In fact, nothing could have been further from her thoughts. Having successfully pleaded a cold as an excuse [to get out of another party], she planned to go to bed early with the new Rebus, a surprisingly thoughtful Christmas present from Simon.
As she lies in bed… and listens to the steady thump of music coming from next door, she feels oddly restless… Almost without knowing it, she gets up and dresses in black trousers and a black t-shirt. Then as an afterthought, she adds a red silk shirt given to her years ago by Shona. She collects a bottle of red from her small store of wine and finds herself knocking on her neighbours’ front door…
‘Aren’t we dreadful neighbours?’ says [co-host] Ed, striking himself theatrically on the forehead. ‘All these years and we’re only just getting to know each other. What’ll you have to drink, Ruth? Red? White? Beer? I think there’s even some mulled wine left.’
Nelson too is at a party. His is rather more glamorous than Ruth’s, and certainly noisier. It is being held in rooms above a wine bar and sparkling wine is flowing like water. Discordant music blasts from the speakers and evil little canapes are circulating. Nelson, who arrived straight from work, has eaten about twenty and now feels slitghtly sick. His last selection, a prawn in puff pastry, is floating forlornly in a nearby ice sculpture. He is dying for a cigarette.
‘Alright?’ His wife Michelle drifts by, elegant in a metallic gold dress.
‘No. When can we go home?’
commentary: Harry Nelson is without doubt my favourite fictional policeman , and the one I would most like to spend New Year’s Eve with, even though he is a miserable sod at times. But both kinds of party here seem very recognizable.
This was the first of the now very-well-established and much-loved series. I’ve been following Dr Ruth Galloway pretty much from first publication, and found it very interesting to do some re-reading – the characters have lived their lives and changed so much that I kept wondering where Kate was, and a whole plotline concerning Cathbad read very strangely. But still great books, and you can see the roots of everything that was to follow. Ruth is a forensic archaeologist, Harry Nelson is a local policeman. They are thrown together in investigating crimes. The books have great mysteries, fascinating settings and details, and characters who truly have become the reader’s friends. A terrific series.