Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Old Bones (Book Four in the Gideon Oliver Series) Paperback – August 26, 2010
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
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. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
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. --This text refers to the Kindle Edition edition.
Top customer reviews
Meanwhile, in the villa above, the far-flung du Rocher family is gathered to find out why the patriarch has summoned them. As Gideon struggles to learn more from the bones, intense conflict breaks out among the family. The bones appear to have been buried during World War II — and in some way they may be related to the conflict within the family upstairs. Then the aging patriarch turns up dead, a victim of drowning in the ocean, and one of his presumed heirs is murdered.
Two investigations now proceed simultaneously: Gideon’s pursuit of the truth about the bones, and the detective’s attempt to establish the motive — and the identity — of the murderer. Naturally, the two investigations merge in due course. The novel evolves into a twisted tale of the Nazi occupation and the French Resistance.
In some respects, Old Bones is a thoroughly traditional murder mystery, with a limited cast of suspects and a shrewd detective on the hunt for the truth. However, the complex backstory, set in World War II, lends a second and far more interesting dimension to the book. The story is suspenseful to the end.
About the author
In addition to the eighteen novels in the Gideon Oliver series, Aaron Elkins has written fourteen other mystery novels. Interestingly, his degrees — a B.A., M.A., and Ed.D. — are in the arts and education. Though he taught anthropology at some point in his career, he is not a forensic anthropologist. Elkins won the Edgar Award for Best Novel for Old Bones.
"Old Bones," the fourth Gideon Oliver mystery received the 1988 Edgar Award for 'Best Mystery Novel' and was also nominated for the 1988 Anthony Award in the same category. I don't much care for most of the books in this series, but "Old Bones" hit me hard in a weak point: fear of drowning. Aquaphobes beware! This book opens with a spooky scene on the immense, fog-shrouded tidal plain that is Mont St. Michel Bay. The tides in this bay can vary greatly, at roughly 14 meters (46 ft) between the high and low water marks. An old man is collecting shells well out into the bay, during what he thinks is ebb-tide, when he hears an unmistakable sound:
"'The tide?' he whispered, and again: 'The tide!'"
The old man's death is treated as an accident. He forgot to consult the local tide tables, got caught in the bay's notorious quick-sand, was overtaken by the on-rushing water, and drowned.
Then a second, skeletonized body is dug up in the basement of the chateau where the old man lived, and Gideon Oliver, Elkins' serial detective and 'bone doctor' is called in for a consultation.
This author's characterizations are not particularly complex, but he doesn’t cheat his readers of clues. They are also treated to lots of local color, and scads of interesting tidbits about the human skeleton. I enjoyed 'Old Bones' very much, but never found another book in this series that was quite its equal.
Unfortunately, I was not impressed. I guessed the ending rather quickly and I found the protagonist to be idiotic; he kept forgetting that someone was trying to kill him! I guess it was part of his absent-minded professor persona, but It's hard to relate to a character like that. I found myself more interested in the secondary characters and frequently bored by the hero.
The actual writing is good but there are some annoying issues with the formatting. The information on deducing the gender, nationality, age, etc., of a skeleton from just a few bones was very interesting, but not enough to make this a first-rate mystery. Too bad.
Most recent customer reviews
and the clever plot. One of the best mysteries I've ever read!