I used to read a lot of crime books. I went through a phase where that was pretty much all I read, in order of course (because how else would you?), and then I got bored with them and stopped. In truth, I turned back to my first love, which was SFF. Occasionally, I think 'oh, I really ought to try a new crime series' and pick up the first book in a new (to me, at least) one, which is what happened with The Crossing Places. On the surface, it sounded interesting - the setting was North Norfolk, an area I know quite well, and the main character a forensic archaeologist. Yep, I know it's been done but I still had hope!
Well, at least I finished it. This is not a guaranteed thing with me, as I no longer believe that I have to finish a book just because I started it and it's not unusual for me to lose interest in characters or storyline quite early on. However, I have to say that I made myself finish this book because at the point I stopped caring I was so far through it didn't seem worth stopping.
First off, the story itself is written in present tense. Most of the time this is not a major problem but every so often it felt really clunky and wrong. There were also a couple of real info-dump moments: I've done my research, damnit, and now I'm going to give you a paragraph on what dendrochronology is, but not because I'm explaining it to another character who doesn't know, nope it's internal monologue even though I am an archaeologist and would already know this.
Speaking of our protagonist, in fact of all the characters, they're pretty much caricatures. Ruth, our main character, is a walking stereotype - a middle-aged woman who worries about everyone thinking she's fat. At one point she thinks 'oh, the police have come to collect me to go to a crime scene, will the neighbours think I'm being arrested for being fat?'. Likewise, our main police character is a man with a difficult past (naturally) and at one point they have sex, again because there is no way of advancing a male-female relationship without genitals being involved. And of course, because it's going to be a series, we can't stick with 'awkward one night stand' there has to be a baby.
In the end, when everything resolved itself we had a culprit but not really an explanation of why he did what he did, or indeed how he managed it - the crimes in question are the kidnapping, 10 years apart, of two small children. However, that plays very much second fiddle to Ruth's various relationships with men - people she has had sex with, people she wanted to have sex with but never did, people she will have sex with and the weird neighbour. Apart from Ruth's one female friend, who only seems to talk about men anyway, it's a real sausagefest - there's one token female police officer, but she only makes a fleeting appearanace.
Anyway, disappointed in this so I don't think I'll be bothering with the rest of the series.