Unnatural Selection
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Unnatural Selection (Gideon Oliver #13)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  517 ratings  ·  39 reviews
When Gideon Oliver's wife Julie attends a conservation forum on the emerald Isles of Scilly, Gideon tags along, expecting a holiday. To amuse himself, he explores the Neolithic sites there. But instead of ancient ruins, he finds evidence of a very recent murder.
Paperback, Large Print, 407 pages
Published February 1st 2008 by Wheeler Publishing (first published June 6th 2006)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Unnatural Selection, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Unnatural Selection

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 777)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
I've been slowly reading all of the Gideon Oliver mysteries in order by when they were first published. This is the 13th and one of the better ones. The series can be quite uneven and Elkins has a real thing about Nazis and WWII that I think intrudes too much into what are really very simple stories. This particular one, however, does not include any of those areas and is pretty straightforward and a very fast read.
I learned more about forensic anthropology by reading this book than I have watching 5 seasons of "Bones". The detective is a "skeleton doctor" and the setting was Cornwall in England.
So Gideon and Julie are off to the Scilly Isles in the UK for Julie to attend an ecology conference. While she's busy talking about ways to save the world, Gideon plans on some sightseeing, hanging out in a museum doing some volunteer work, enjoying life.

But, no surprise here, Gideon stumbles onto a bone that doesn't belong there. And we're off to the races with the Skeleton Detective.

Elkins doesn't come up with an excuse for Mr. and Mrs. Lau to come along to Julie's conference, but thankfully,...more
I really enjoyed the slower more thoughtful pace of this detective mystery.
When Dr. Oliver accompanies his wife, Julie, to a symposium in the English countryside, he expects to be able to soak up the vacation lifestyle and putter around some of the museums. Little does he know (though the reader will not be shocked to discover), while examining some skeletal remains in a small museum, he happens upon some bones that point to something more sinister than anthropologically interesting. As he teams up with the local constabulary to investigate, an attendee at the symposiu...more
My first Gideon Oliver Mystery and first time reading this author. Frankly, I was quite surprised how much I enjoyed the book.

The lead character, Gideon Oliver aka Skeleton Detective is a forensic anthropology professor. His wife Julie is a park ranger in Washington State's Olympic National Park.

Gideon accompanies his wife to the remote Isles of Scilly off the Cornwall coast. Julie is part of a consortium of ecological experts with very differing views and many heated debates. Gideon is simply...more
This is another mystery series I've enjoyed over the years. Gideon Oliver is a forensic anthropologist and his wife is a ranger at Olympic National Park. The characters and their lives have changed over the years, as we all do, and since I want to do things in order, I started the series at the beginning with book #1, which was published in the early 80's. So culture and technology have changed, too. As far as I'm concerned that just adds to the entertainment. I like the characters and the setti...more
Bones. Aaron Elkins makes the study of bones simply fascinating. I agree totally with one professional critic who states: "Elkins' plotting is devious, and the forensics information is thoroughly terrific." I also agree with another critic who says: " Will satisfy your craving for genteel entertainment." The Gideon Oliver series is a joy to read - smartly written, lots of dry humor, interesting facts and wonderfully developed characters and plots. And, you get to travel the world with Gideon Oli...more
Nov 09, 2008 Betty rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of mystery & forensics
This time Julie has been invited to a consortium on the Isle of Scilly off Cornwall, and Gideon is accompanying her. A mixed blend of people all together in an unusual Castle. Gideon wanders the grounds & eventually the inevitable bone that shouldn't be there turns up. It appears to be a death around the time of the previous consortium of two years previously, but shortly a fresh body appears. Gideon is involved up his elbows trying to find out what the consortium and the two bodies have in...more
Forensics professor and sometimes detective Gideon Oliver accompanies his wife to the Isles. While Julie is stuck indoors, Gideon intends to putter around the Neolithic sites scattered among the islands. But when bones are uncovered on a remote beach showing signs of homicide his vacation plans take an interesting turn.

I would rate this at 3.5 stars. It's tightly written, intelligent dialog - a good read that is wanting a bit in suspense.
With this type of mystery, you often see the amateur sleuth in an antagonistic relationship with some bumbling, incompetent police detective. The interesting twist in this book is that Gideon and the two police officers form an impromtu team and really work together.

Lot's of good detail on the bones in this one, too, so his credentials as the "skeleton detective" (Sorry, Gideon, I know you hate that moniker) come through loud and clear once again.
Forensics professor Gideon Oliver accompanies his wife to a consortium on conversation by weird thinkers. In a visit to a museum Oliver is looking at old bones but finds a human bone that is not very old. He and the local police use a cadaver dog and find additional bones on the beach. Then another participant in the consortium is murdered. Learn something about bones. Sometimes interesting but probably a light read.
My first Gideon Oliver mystery. Interesting enough that I would like to read more of these mysteries, though Gideon does come off as just a touch too academic, overly impressed with higher education, and snobbish. His wife sounds a lit more interesting. Decent overall plot, and I liked that if you actually paid attention to stuff in the beginning, you could have figured it out before the end.
Unnatural Selection is well paced and moves along easily. The characters are likeable and intriguing. As usual, there is a touch of humour that makes the characters even more realistic. The murder is a fairly straight forward crime of passion and not unnecessarily twist, even if the original conclusions prove to be incorrect.
I have been reading old favorites again. Any of the Gideon Oliver series fits that category. The forensic anthropology is always very well done and the characters are wonderfully done. This one features how to go from a piece of bone found on a beach to a murder in a couple of fell swoops.
Judith Kerr
This was a short mystery, but good. Knowing very little about forensic anthropology, I thought the info very enlightening and interesting. My grandson is planning to enter this field, so it was doubly important to me. The setting in UK near Penzance was also a plus feature.
May 26, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: A guest at The Waverly Inn
Elkins is just downright fun to read. There's not much violence, sex, or any of the other things we typically see today in the murder mystery genre. But he's extremely skilled at keeping your interest level high and his plot development always keeps you turning the page.
This book is about a young forensics professor and his wife, in the Isles of Scilly for a conference. The main characters are young, interesting, and amusing. I like amusing!

Murder, intrigue, who dun'it and very enjoyable, will look for more from this author.
It's a bit frustrating when you read something that takes a while to get going and then feels slapdash at the end, but Elkins clearly has a good grasp of the technical elements in this one. A series I can see myself dipping in and out of, but not slavishly.
Rebecca Coday
I received this book from a friend and then wondered where this writer has been all my life...you know what I mean? Really terrific forensic mystery writing, I can't wait to read more of Aaron Elkins, now that I've discovered him.
Mr. Brewer
Aaron Elkins adds these deft little touches to his prose and exposition that really flesh out his books. Very three dimensional for literature, and makes reading his books almost an actual experience. Imagery and subtext are awesome.
This novel is set at an academic conference held by a wealthy dilettant in England. The snobbery and comraderie of academia are evident in the plot. The extensive descriptions of the setting are particularly well done.
First time reading a Gideon Oliver book, and I much enjoyed it. Very quick read, the mystery itself was interesting enough, and it kept me entertained the entire way through.
I loved everything about this book, except that I figured it out; the murderer, the victim, the reason. Still a great character and interesting stuff.
A decent Gideon Oliver mystery. Lots of bones, lots of lectures on anthropology, a really well-executed red herring, and a pretty surprising conclusion.
Another good addition to the series. Love the way Gideon solves the crimes using little bits of bones and explains how his conclusions are reached.
Cute. I like the dog angle. And I learned something interesting about the consistency of the human brain (like jello)!
Can't remember all the details, but I enjoyed the writing and the characters and it was an engrossing story.
Not as good as some of his others, but it's been years since I've read him and I enjoyed it nonetheless.
The Skeleton Doctor goes to the Isles of Scilly. Now I think I want to go too; they sound lovely.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 25 26 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Chinese Alchemist (Lara McClintoch Archeological Mystery, #11)
  • Relics (Faye Longchamp, #2)
  • Bone Hunter (Em Hansen Mystery, #5)
  • The Shaman's Bones (Charlie Moon, #3)
  • Death of a Rug Lord (Den of Antiquity, #14)
  • Dear Miss Demeanor (Claire Malloy, #3)
  • A Killer Collection (A Collectible Mystery, #1)
  • The Thunder Keeper (Wind River Reservation, #7)
  • The Silver Ghost (Kelling & Bittersohn, #8)
  • Click Here For Murder (Turing Hopper, #2)
  • Scots on the Rocks (Bed-and-Breakfast Mysteries #23)
  • If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him... (Elizabeth MacPherson, #8)
  • A Knife to Remember (Jane Jeffry, #5)
  • Dead Write (Forensic Handwriting Mystery #3)
Aaron J. Elkins AKA Aaron Elkins (born Brooklyn July 24, 1935) is an American mystery writer. He is best known for his series of novels featuring forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver—the 'skeleton detective'. The fourth Oliver book, Old Bones, received the 1988 Edgar Award for Best Novel. As Oliver is a world-renowned authority, he travels around the world and each book is set in a different and...more
More about Aaron Elkins...
Fellowship of Fear (Gideon Oliver, #1) Old Bones (Gideon Oliver, #4) The Dark Place (Gideon Oliver, #2) Curses! (Gideon Oliver, #5) Murder in the Queen's Armes (Gideon Oliver, #3)

Share This Book