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Skull Duggery (Gideon Oliver, #16)
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Skull Duggery (Gideon Oliver #16)

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  421 ratings  ·  54 reviews
No one solves crimes like Skeleton Detective Gideon Oliver.

Gideon and his wife are on vacation in Mexico when a local police chief requests his assistance on a case. A mummified corpse was discovered in the desert and the coroner believed the victim was shot. But Gideon's examination reveals the victim was stabbed with a Phillips-head screwdriver. Then Gideon is asked to
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Berkley Hardcover (first published August 29th 2009)
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Poorly written and full of cliches, painfully predictable plot, paper thin characters, pretentious 'local color'--The first couple chapters were so awful I almost gave up, but I had to see if I could figure out why this guy has had so many books published. I've finished the book and still have no idea.
When the Olivers head down to Mexico on vacation, trouble and mystery come along as well. Visiting the family hacienda at which Julie worked in her teen years, Gideon and Julie agree to take things easy and enjoy the company of family. However, when a mummified body turns up, the authorities seek the assistance of The Skeleton Detective to shed some light on the mystery. Lo and behold, it’s murder and Gideon is more than eager to help crack open the case. One body leads to two and a full-on myst ...more
Actually a 3.5 and perhaps more. I missed my stop on BART because I was so engrosssed in this book. Some of the plot was predictable, but it moved swiftly. Elkins is adept with the English language (and some Spanish as well). A delight to learn new, fun words - like flump (n. the sound or action of a heavy fall; v. fall or sit down heavily). Since I had read Curses and characters from curses popped up here, it was satisfying. Finally, and most shockingly, I learned a new legal fact: Mexico has a ...more
This book reminded me of just how much I like Elkins' Gideon Oliver series. I haven't read any for a few years and was delighted to find this new one. I especially enjoy the sense of place that Elkins brings to his books (Oaxaco, Mexico in this one)--not to mention his wry humor and interesting forensics and anthropology. In this mystery Gideon, on vacation at a family-owned hacienda/dude ranch, is asked to examine some mummified remains that turn out to be only a few months old. That investigat ...more
Aaron Elkins is one of my all time favorite authors. Nothing complicated with his work, just plain, well plotted murder mysteries which leave you feeling good about having taken the time to read his book(s).

Another benefit to reading Elkins is that he consistently moves around the world with his books and gives the reader an excellent basic feel for wherever the story takes place (in this case Gibralter).

IOn the end, these are all easy reads which you should use to temper your brain after a more
This was a fluff read. The idea for this plot was rather inventive but I think the author spent too much time on description - of people, of places, of procedure, and not enough time on the mystery. The book felt rather two-dimensional and wooden.
I haven't read this series in a long time. I loved this one. The setting in Oaxaca was interesting and the "mystery" was entertaining. Great bedtime reading!
2.5 stars. Interesting read. I like forensics and archeology stuff, but as far as a "mystery" wasnt very suspenseful and no real surprises.
This is an outtake from a blog post discussing Gideon Oliver 15-17 over at The Irresponsible Reader.
This one gets a bonus 1/2 star for the mentions by both Gideon and Julie that if he's around, a skeleton (at least a skull) will appear to keep him busy (and would probably deserve the bonus without those mentions). I also appreciated the "just another day in the office" aspect of the attempt on Gideon's life. At this point, he should really take out a bigger life insurance policy any time he leav
Although this is #16 in the Gideon Oliver series, it is only the second book of this series I have read. I started with "Dying on the Vine", set in a part of Italy I love, which I really enjoyed, and picked up this book based on its Mexican setting. One thing I really love about Aaron Elkins' books is his exquisite detailing of local cuisine - his writing make me hungry! Was he a food critic at one point? I'll have to investigate. "Skull Duggery" is no exception here, with the superb local cuisi ...more
I have a fondness for Gideon Oliver that much resembles my enjoyment of tv shows such as Numb3rs and Criminal Minds. They're quasi-based in 'real-life' applications of science-y things, even when you put them all together it doesn't really work.

But that's okay, because I really do like the characters, and the stories are engaging, and the ends are enough of a surprise that I don't mind how well/poorly they may have been set up.

One thing: there is a point were Gideon and his wife are at the hote
Teresa in Ohio
Gideon is on vacation with his wife Julie at the family Hacienda in Mexico. He plans on playing tourist, and being care free for the week. With in a day of arrival he is called on by local police to investigate remains, which the orginial dr wasn't very detailed on the cause of death. He is also asked to check out verifcation of a mummy. So instead of a relaxing vacation, the bone doctor is on duty again. This is a forensic series, that seems to be forgotten among Cornwell Reichs and others. Gid ...more
I found this to be a fairly light and engaging mystery. I liked the setting (Oaxaca, Mexico) because it's one that I'm not familiar with but would like to learn more about. And the protagonist, Gideon Oliver, is an unusual mystery solver as mystery solvers go. He's a professor of physical anthropology and because of his expertise in bones, he often finds himself assisting police in their investigations. While I tend to enjoy descriptive novels, this one was a little too much sometimes. Chapter 6 ...more
Sandy Weir
This time Gideon and Julie are in Oaxaca, Mexico where they are visiting relatives. We are introduced to an extended family cast of characters and the reality of some politics in Mexico before we really get into the crime and solution. I enjoyed guessing the solution to the mystery but would not classify it as easy! A good winter read..
I'm just never disappointed when I read Elkins' Gideon Oliver mysteries. He writes smartly - excellent vocabulary, good background info on the locale(s) and a nicely woven plot. EVERY time.

This particular story took place in the Oaxaca area of Mexico. Julie and Gideon readily agreed to help out Julie's cousin take care of the Hacienda Encantada while her cousin was away for a week. What could go wrong? Quite a lot. With a lot of twists and turns, good information (yes, thank goodness Gideon is
Ron Estrada
This was my first book by this author. I enjoyed it immensely. Anytime I can learn something new, it's a good read. The setting in Mexico made it all the more interesting. He didn't take us to some known location, but instead took us to a province that would be unknown to the average American and immersed us in the unique culture. If you're looking for a classic mystery style that presents you with a series of clues and invites you to solve the crime, this is a good one. I thought I had it figur ...more
Super fun! Read it in a single session again.
Elkins needs to make himself a timeline to refer too, sometimes Blaze's disappearance was over ten years ago (once refered to as ten years prior), others twenty years ago and nearly thirty years ago.

But that's my only criticism of the book, other than that it was highly enjoyable, fast paced and not overly twisty in the mystery. As usual it was educational without being pound you over the head and a delight to follow Gideon's thought as he examines various skeletons and bits of bone and teeth.
Another great series for us science geeks. I love learning all the different ways our bones reflect who we are and the lives we have lived, whether the Skeleton Detective is investigating an ancient mummy or a fresh corpse. The husband and wife team is sweet, and the exotic locales attractive. This one takes us to Oaxaca, Mexico for a week-long "vacation" but you know Gideon will find a skeleton in no time at all! Thanks, Mr. Elkins, for another great read!
Physical Anthropologist Gideon Oliver and his wife Julie go to Mexico to help out a couple of her relatives. Naturally, a body or two surface and the "Skeleton Detective" is happy to lend a hand. A quick and enjoyable read. I was a little worried that I saw everything coming, but there was a twist at the end that keeps me from calling it predictable. Aaron Elkins fans won't be disappointed with this one.
Ugh, Gideon came off like an American snob; too much Spanish in the text.

I wasn't able to read this, 100%, just to find out why a Chief of Police would think to ask a tourist -- in any capacity -- for his professional expertise . . . three times? And no one should believe this guy was "hired:" tourists DO NOT (prohibited by law) receive any remuneration for services rendered in Mexico.
Yet another of Elkin's delightful Gideon Oliver(professor of forensic anthropology)series. As usual, well plotted, straight forward and starring some skeletons who guide Gideon in solving the crime. Elkins always makes the science fascinating and fun. I'll admit that I haven't read the whole series but I have read a number of them and have never been disappointed.
This, this is the Aaron Elkins I missed in his previous book in the Gideon Oliver series, Uneasy Relations. The pacing is smoother, the writing crisper, and--as it used to be--the forays into anthropology and local cuisine (in this case, the foods of northern Oaxaca; now I want to go there) are as informative and gently humorous as ever.
Aaron Elkins is one of my favorite "fun" authors, especially his Gideon Oliver series about the "Skeleton Detective," a forensic anthropologist who is ALWAYS finding skeletons with curious pasts, wherever he goes. Well written, entertaining, and educational to boot. Each time a new book comes out, it feels like a visit from an old friend.
I love forensics and I liked this book. I think Gideon is slightly long winded but despite that the book moves swiftly and the characters are clearly defined and when it came to the solution of the crime I understood who was who and what they stood to lose or gain, I have never read Elkins before but I will again.
The skeleton detective in Mexico on vacation with his wife. He is asked by the local police to help find a bullet in the mummified body of an unidentified man. What he finds leads to the answers to the 30 year old disappearance of one of his wife's cousins. Keeps you guessing to the last.
Fun mystery, forensic anthropologist and wife visit her cousins' hacienda resort in Oaxaca and guess what; old bones, new bones, a skull used as a candle holder all add up to startling revelations! The background about Oaxaca is very well done, since I'm going next week, timely!
I'm not sure why I liked this book so much. I loved the characters; Gideon and his wife Julie are just so believable and likeable. The steps in figuring out the identity of the dead body and what it leads to just got me hooked. I'm going to read all of Aaron Elkins books.
There are a lot of these books featuring Gideon Oliver, an anthropology professor, who just happens to run into skeletons wherever he goes. This time he goes to Mexico and I enjoyed the descriptions of the state of Oaxaca. We visited there in 1979.
Cindy S
Another twisty "who done it" by Aaron Elkins. Gideon Oliver, the Skeleton Detective" is on the case again, this time during a vacation in Mexico. Three skeletons are found, all with a mystery around them. I didn't see the twist at the end coming.
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Gideon Oliver (1 - 10 of 17 books)
  • Fellowship of Fear (Gideon Oliver, #1)
  • The Dark Place (Gideon Oliver, #2)
  • Murder in the Queen's Armes (Gideon Oliver, #3)
  • Old Bones (Gideon Oliver, #4)
  • Curses! (Gideon Oliver, #5)
  • Icy Clutches (Gideon Oliver, #6)
  • Make No Bones (Gideon Oliver, #7)
  • Dead Men's Hearts (Gideon Oliver, #8)
  • Twenty Blue Devils (Gideon Oliver, #9)
  • Skeleton Dance (Gideon Oliver, #10)
Fellowship of Fear (Gideon Oliver, #1) Old Bones (Gideon Oliver, #4) A Dangerous Talent (Alix London, #1) The Dark Place (Gideon Oliver, #2) Curses! (Gideon Oliver, #5)

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