Biological anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the Skeleton Detectivemost recently featured in the Edgar-winning Old Bones heads down to the Yucatan to the archeological dig of Tlaloc, where five years previously he had been witness to the theft, by the project leader, of a priceless Mayan codex. After the scandal, the Mexican government closed the dig for several years but is now allowing work to resume under the direction of Gideon's old friend and mentor, Abe Goldstein. When Gideon and his wife, Julie, arrive to study some old bones, some recent remains make their appearance. A freelance reporter who is writing a sensational series on the dig and the theft is shot. Then the codex and a body are found under a rock fall; the victim turns out to be the main suspect. Most of the members of the current expedition, amateurs working without pay, are now under suspicion. While Gideon renews his friendship with the testy inspector of the Yucatan police, copes with an ancient Mayan curse and exercises his artful detective powers, he comes close to being killed himself. Elkins provides another delightful, semiserious romp through science and an exotic police culture. Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
Returning to the site of an archaeological dig at Tlaloc on the Yucutan Peninsula, physical anthropologist Gideon Oliver is confronted with mysterious events from the distant and not-so-distant past as well as the present. Closed five years earlier amid scandal when the then project director apparently absconded with a priceless Mayan codex, the dig had recently resumed only to disclose some unauthorized excavation and an ancient curse, the details of which are being methodically fulfilled in graphic detail. Oliver and his wife, Julie, join forces with the local police to uncover the truth about what happened five years ago and its connection with the current problem. A well-written effort, perfect for an evening's entertainment. - Judith A. Gifford, Salve Regina Coll. Lib., Newport, R.I. Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Curator Chris Norgren heads to Berlin to help mount a sensational exhibit of priceless works once thought to be lost. But the occasion turns chilling when Chris's boss, after sensing a forgery in the lot, turns up dead the next day outside a Frankfort brothel. Now Chris faces two near-impossible tasks--finding a fake painting amng the masterpieces, and a REAL killer still at large.... "Elkins thoroughly understands the art of the murder mystery." THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Set in the gossipy, rumor-ridden art world, this thoroughly enjoyable mystery begins with the discovery of a fake Van Eyck and a real Rubens in the Seattle warehouse of an importer of schlock art sold en masse to hotels. Identifying the works almost instantly is ironic, self-deprecating narrator Chris Norgren, first met in Deceptive Clarity. Chris, a curator at the Seattle Art Museum, is swept up in the dangerous hunt for thieves, perhaps mafiosi, who stole the Rubens and other works in three almost simultaneous hauls--worth $100 million--in Bologna 22 months earlier. Chris may be an expert on craquelure , or crackling in paint, but he's none too acute on human beings, totally misjudging a gaggle of suspects and the head of the carabinieri's art theft unit, the narrow-shouldered Antuoni, who seems to him to be simply an officious file clerk. The reader dines well with Chris, enjoying steamed clams and white wine on the Seattle waterfront, and cuschninetti di vitello, veal scallops stuffed with prosciutto and cheese, in a grand Bolognese restaurant. We also fly with him to Sicily (after a delay caused by the finding of a bomb in his luggage) and to Amsterdam. This fresh, funny and well-informed book should win new fans for Elkins, whose Old Bones earned an Edgar for best novel in 1988. Detective Book Club selection. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
What was supposed to be an Italian vacation for forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver and his wife turns into a busman's holiday when their hosts' only child goes missing--and nearby construction workers unearth human bones. The family awaits Oliver's conclusions with both dread and cautious hope. But along the way, he'll expose some extraordinary deceptions that lay bare the long-hidden secrets at the dark heart of a highborn family.
Forensic sleuth Gideon Oliver discovers that an alleged avalanche victim actually died of an ice pick wound to the skull. PW called this "well-intentioned but wordy. . . . The repetitive scientific analysis and an overwrought narrative dull the novel's potential for suspense." Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Edgar Award winner Elkins's corker of a mystery is the seventh outing for his "skeleton detective," forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver, who attends a professional convention that is disrupted by death. Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Anthropologist Gideon Oliver is honeymooning in England when he decides to drop in on a Dorset dig run by his old friend Nate Marcus. The local scientific society is miffed by Marcus's publicity-grabbing theories, and definitely put off by his abrasive manner. Gideon detects an uneasy atmosphere at the dig. After a member vanishes and an unidentifiable body turns up, Gideon ("the skeleton detective" of Fellowship of Fear and The Dark Place) is dragged into the investigation by the police. He's also unwillingly involved with Marcus's great "find"that turns out to be a fake. Blackmail, academic hugger-mugger and more murder surface and Gideon and his wife are in dire peril. The characters and local color are only moderately interesting and the ending is rather tame, but the book is saved by Gideon's enthusiasm and Elkins's depiction of his neat "skeletal detective work." Foreign rights: Barney Karpfinger Agency. December 16 Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc.
In the flood tides off Mont St. Michel, revered Resistance-hero Guillaume du Rocher is drowned. Already assembled at the Rocher estate to deal with family business, members of the Rocher clan instead read his will. The next day a partial skeleton is found in the cellar and Gideon Oliver, a physical anthropologist, is called to examine the bones. They are those of a young man who died 50 years prior and Gideon believes the deceased was tied to the Resistance movement. When Gideon is threatened, and Claude, Rocher's principal heir, is poisoned, Gideon begins to unravel a web of espionage, family deceit and murder, whose dramatic resolution lies in the secret held by the old bones. This taut thriller won the 1988 Edgar Award for best mystery novel.
From Publishers Weekly
When revered Resistance-hero Guillaume du Rocher drowns in a rushing flood tide off Mont St. Michel, members of the familysummoned by Guillaume on undisclosed urgent businessare already assembled at the domaine du Rocher, where, instead, they hear his will. The next day in the basement, a partial skeleton is uncovered, and Gideon Oliver, American physical anthropologist known as the "Skeleton Detective," is called from his lectures at an international forensics conference to examine the bones. Gideon confirms the remains, determines that they are those of a young man dead almost 50 years, suggesting a connection to local Resistance actions, including one in which Guillaume's brother Alain was executed after Claude Fougeray, a du Rocher cousin and now Guillaume's principal heir, collaborated with the enemy. While Gideon gleans more and more information from the skeleton, Claude is poisoned and Gideon himself is threatened. An intricate plotmore substantial than it promises initiallyis weighed down by a school of weak red herrings, by too much multisyllabic information about bone structure and by characters more caricatured than lifelike. Elkins (The Dark Place and Fellowship of Fear), is better on the muck and sand below the abbey where the action, especially a thrilling final scene, gallops along as fast and compelling as the tide itself. Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver and his wife Julie have planned a relaxing four-week European jaunt that will allow Gideon to collect material for his upcoming book. But when a local dog digs up some very tasty--and very modern--human bones at a prehistoric site in the French Dordogne, Gideon gets a call for deductive assistance from old friend Inspector Lucien Joly. It appears that the bones are connected to the Institut de Préhistoire, epicenter of the academic debate on the proper place of Neanderthals in the progression of human evolution.
Years ago, the Institut's director, Ely Carpenter, found startling archaeological evidence that Neanderthal Man was a sensitive being with an appreciation of beauty and art: when that evidence was exposed as a fraud, Carpenter committed suicide. Or did he? These days, the remaining members of the Institut are still at dagger's (or perhaps Middle Paleolithic Acheulian cordiform hand ax's) edge. Half of them argue for the Neanderthals as card-carrying Homo sapiens, and the other half want to fling them from the family tree altogether. The academic debate is vicious, indeed--but when more bodies start to appear, Gideon must dig deep into layers of personal animosity and professional rivalry to determine which of his anthropological colleagues has more than a monograph at stake.
Aaron Elkins is the author of a number of Gideon Oliver mysteries, including the Edgar Award-winning Old Bones. It is a tribute to his skill that the dusty fragments of bone at the heart of this latest outing will capture his readers' interest, and that the ramifications of a scientific dispute seem the perfect motive for murder. Skeleton Dance carries as well all the touches that have made his previous novels successful: a genial protagonist who wavers between sharp-eyed precision and absent-minded obliviousness; an assortment of well-drawn minor characters (though their foibles may be sketched a bit too broadly, as Elkins stretches for a touch of humor); and a cozy evocation of local atmosphere. If the music of Skeleton Dance is a tune we've heard before, and the steps are a trifle well-worn, it doesn't really matter; Elkins is such a skilled partner that we'll find ourselves tapping our feet and turning the pages in easy rhythm. --Kelly Flynn
From Publishers Weekly
Academic infighting, at once comically petty and deadly serious, is the subject of Elkins's terrific follow-up to Old Bones, winner of the 1988 Edgar Award for best novel. This time, celebrated Seattle "skeleton detective" Gideon Oliver travels to the quaint French village of Les Eyzies to aid police in the identification of some human bones. At first, the bones were thought to be prehistoric fossils, common enough in a town famous for its Paleolithic caves and the world-class Institut de Pr?histoire. But closer examination reveals the deceased to have been murdered sometime within the past five years, possibly by someone linked to the institute. Gideon, now on sabbatical leave from his professorship to write a book on scientific bloopers, begins interviewing the institute's five French and American members about a notorious archeological hoax perpetrated by the former director, elusive American Ely Carpenter. The more Gideon learns about the hoax, the more he's convinced of a connection to the unidentified bones. When Gideon is attacked and the bones stolen, it's clear that one of the five scientists is responsible--probably for murder, as well. Every suspect is a full-blown comic creation capable of surprise, from the absent-minded Jacques Beaupierre, who crosses the street "somewhat in the manner of a soft-bodied sea creature undulating over the ocean floor," to the pompous ?mile Grize, who affects bow ties depicting "egg yolks exploding in a microwave oven." Mischievous wit, fascinating erudition, juicy (but never mean-spirited) academic gossip and a gorgeous setting redolent with Gitanes and goose liver combine to make this mystery an especially delectable treat. Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Brew up a pot of your favorite gourmet java and enjoy the latest adventure of forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver, who this time around exercises his wits on a coffee plantation in Tahiti. Aaron Elkins has a sharp, cool eye for detail; his descriptions of a flawed tropical paradise going through some serious business changes ring true. And the family that runs the coffee plantation has enough diversity to keep everyone guessing about the death of one of its members until the last drop. To bone up on Gideon Oliver in paperback, try: The Dark Place, Dead Men's Hearts, Fellowship of Fear, Icy Clutches, Make No Bones, Murder in the Queen's Armes, and Old Bones.
From Publishers Weekly
Gideon Oliver, the shrewd, witty and self-deprecating forensic anthropologist, is at the top of his form in his ninth appearance (after Dead Men's Hearts, 1994). This tale, populated with a memorable and well-defined cast, finds Gideon traveling to Tahiti with friend and FBI agent John Lau to investigate what might have been the murder of Brian Scott, manager of the thriving, family-owned Paradise Coffee Plantation and common-law husband of the owner's daughter Therese. Amid rumors of Mafia retaliation for earlier, unfriendly testimony by plantation owner Nick Druett, Gideon runs into unexpected obstacles. Neither Nick nor Therese wants Brian's body exhumed; Nick's good friend, the pompous head of the local gendarmerie, agrees. Gideon, perceptive as always, notices something extraordinary in the official photographs of Brian and, as the ensuing investigation progresses, the seemingly close-knit family begins to unravel. Therese, who is docile and uncommunicative, her politically correct sister and other, more devious family members are all at odds over a lucrative offer to buy the plantation, a move Brian had opposed. Zipping along at a smooth and rapid clip, the story combines masterfully etched characters and suggestions of lingering aromas of frangipani and coconut palms with the consummate panache of its hero. Elkins rewards his readers with a riveting mystery even while altering forever the way they will view their trendy, upscale coffee. Mystery Guild featured alternate; author tour. Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.