Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Book and Audio Review: Old Bones by Aaron Elkins

Old Bones

Aaron Elkins
Narrator: Joel Richards
Series: The Gideon Oliver Mysteries (Book 4)
Publication: Open Road Media Mystery & Thriller (April 1, 2014)
Length: 218 p.; 8 hours and 29 minutes

Description: "With the roar of thunder and the speed of a galloping horse comes the tide to Mont St. Michel,” goes the old nursery song. So when the aged patriarch of the du Rocher family falls victim to the perilous tide, even the old man’s family accepts the verdict of accidental drowning.

But too quickly, this “accident” is followed by a bizarre discovery in the ancient du Rocher chateau: a human skeleton, wrapped in butcher paper, beneath the old stone flooring. Professor Gideon Oliver, lecturing on forensic anthropology at nearby St. Malo, is asked to examine the bones. He quickly demonstrates why he is known as the “Skeleton Detective,” providing the police with forensic details that lead them to conclude that these are the remains of a Nazi officer believed to have been murdered in the area during the Occupation. Or are they? Gideon himself has his doubts. Then, when another of the current du Rochers dies—this time via cyanide poisoning—his doubts solidify into a single certainty: Someone wants old secrets to stay buried . . . and is perfectly willing to eradicate the meddlesome American to make that happen.

My Thoughts: Gideon Oliver is lecturing on forensic anthropology at a law enforcement convention in France when he is called in by one of the participants to look at some bones recently found in the cellar of the Du Rocher home. Gideon has been there before since he's acquainted with one of the Du Rocher relatives who is also a college professor in California.

Gideon finds himself in the middle of a mystery and a family squabble for the inheritance of the recently deceased Du Rocher who found himself caught by the tides at Mont St. Michel. Events and divisions hark back to the Occupation and questions about loyalty. 

History suggests that the bones belong to a German officer murdered by members of the Resistance including some Du Rochers. But Gideon isn't convinced. He has quite a different theory. More questions arise when another member of the family - a much hated one - is murdered by drinking wine laced with cyanide.

This story was written in 1987 but felt even older to me. I think it was that the plot centered on events that happened during World War II and that many of the current family were involved in those events. Also the family rivalry and sniping at one another felt old-fashioned to me. This is the fourth in the series of eighteen books and the first that I have read which means that this was my introduction to Gideon. I found him to be an interesting character and would like to read more books in the series to learn more about him.

I chose the audiobook version since it was an Audible Daily Deal and sounded interesting. I enjoyed Joel Richard's narration. The pacing was excellent and the characters were vocally distinct. 

Favorite Quote:
"Well, my Uncle Beau Will'm," Ben said, slipping into an East Texas drawl, "that is, my Uncle Beau as was married to my mother's sister Essie, he said ain't no problem at all keepin' peace in the family, just so long's you don't ever make the mistake of tryin' to get 'em all together."
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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