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About Aaron Elkins
I'm a former anthropologist who has been writing mysteries and thrillers since 1982, having won an Edgar for Old Bones, as well as a subsequent Agatha (with my wife Charlotte), and a Nero Wolfe Award. My major continuing series features forensic anthropologist-detective Gideon Oliver, "the Skeleton Detective."
Lately, I've seen myself referred to as "the father of the modern forensic mystery," and, by gosh, I think I am! Before "Fellowship of Fear," the first Gideon Oliver, published in 1982, you'd have to go back 70 years and more to Austin Freeman and his Dr. Thorndyke series. Between the two good doctors (Thorndyke and Oliver), there was only Jack Klugman's "Quincy," so far as I know, and he was a TV character.
The Gideon Oliver books have been (roughly) translated into a major ABC-TV series and have been selections of the Book-of-the-Month Club, the Literary Guild, and the Readers Digest Condensed Mystery Series. My work has been published in a dozen languages. Charlotte and I live on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, our marriage having survived (more or less intact) our collaboration on novels and short stories.
Although I've been a full-time writer for some time now, I also remain active in real-life forensics by serving as the forensic anthropologist on the Olympic Peninsula Cold Case Task Force.
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When anthropology professor Gideon Oliver is offered a teaching fellowship at US military bases in Germany, Sicily, Spain, and Holland, he wastes no time accepting. Stimulating courses to teach, a decent stipend, all expenses paid, plenty of interesting European travel . . . What’s not to like?
It does not take him long to find out. On his first night, he is forced to fend off two desperate, black‑clad men who have invaded his Heidelberg hotel room with intent to kill. And then there are a few trivial details that the recruiting agency forgot to mention—such as the fact that the two previous holders of the fellowship both met with mysterious ends.
From there, it is all downhill. Gideon finds himself the target in an unfamiliar game for which no one has bothered to give him the rules. What he does have is his own considerable intellect and his remarkable forensic skills. He will need them, for he is playing for some fairly high stakes: the security of Western Europe.
Fellowship of Fear is the 1st book in the Gideon Oliver Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
Mild‑mannered and law‑abiding, Chris Norgren, curator of Renaissance and Baroque art at the Seattle Art Museum, is an unlikely undercover investigator, but when a priceless Rubens portrait is discovered in a shipment of “authentic reproductions” in a local warehouse, Chris is pressed into service to find out how it got there. The quest leads him to the medieval city of Bologna, one of his favorite places, but all too soon what might have been a welcome Italian interlude turns into a bizarre journey into shady art world doings and murderous secrets . . .
It takes a real artist to solve a crime this big—in a brilliant, engrossing mystery by Edgar Award winner Aaron Elkins…
Art curator Val Caruso is not a happy camper. His promotion has just been nixed, his divorce has become final, and he’s dug himself into a nice little rut for his fortieth birthday. The uplift? A trip to Milan to help Holocaust survivor Sol Bezzecca recover a pair of cherished sketches by Renoir. They’d once been given to Sol’s family by the then-unknown artist, looted by the Italian Fascist militia, and now after decades in hiding have turned up for auction. It’s Val’s job to get them back.
Unfortunately, his Italian adventure takes a dangerous turn when he becomes trapped in an intricate web that reaches back to World War II—and is still very sticky with art thieves, forgers, and somebody who wants Val out of the picture permanently. When the lost Renoirs are stolen yet again, Val is more determined than ever to hunt them down. The reward for reuniting an old man with his rightful past? Priceless.
But doing it is going to be murder.
Chris Norgren, museum curator and Renaissance art expert, heads to Berlin to assist in mounting a sensational exhibit: The Plundered Past—twenty priceless Old Masters looted by the Nazis, thought for decades to be lost forever, and only recently rediscovered.
But things quickly get out of hand when Chris’s patrician, fastidious boss, after sensing a forgery in the lot, turns up dead the very next day—on the steps of a dismal Frankfurt brothel, of all places. Now, Chris faces a daunting task: finding a counterfeit artwork among the masterpieces—and an all-too-real killer whose sights are now set on him.
A Deceptive Clarity is the first in the Chris Norgren Mysteries by the multiple award–winning creator of the Gideon Oliver “Skeleton Detective” novels—a celebrated master who “thoroughly understands the art of the murder mystery” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
An ancient skeleton tossed in a garbage dump is the first conundrum to rattle Gideon Oliver when he arrives in Egypt. There to appear in a documentary film, he expects an undemanding week of movie star treatment and a luxurious cruise up the Nile with his wife, Julie. But when Gideon discovers a tantalizing secret in the discarded bones—and violence claims a famous Egyptologist’s life—he is thrust into a spotlight of a different kind. Plying his calipers as the world’s foremost forensic anthropologist, Gideon’s investigation of the goings‑on leads him through the back alleys and bazaars of Cairo and deep into the millennia‑old tombs of the Valley of the Kings.
As the puzzle is painstakingly pieced together, Gideon will find that the identifying traits of a cunning killer are the same now as they were in the time of the pyramids: greed without guilt, lies without conscience . . . and murder without remorse.
Dead Men’s Hearts is the 8th book in the Gideon Oliver Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
Alix London, the art restorer and FBI consultant renowned as the Art Whisperer, can spot a counterfeit masterpiece before the paint even dries. What she can’t see is why an elite European art dealer would offer her big money for a little mirror that’s no more than a homemade gift from her beloved uncle Tiny. Not that Alix would part with it at any price. But when the mirror is abruptly stolen from her home, she realizes that someone sees more in the looking glass than mere sentimental value.
When her uncle Tiny disappears mysteriously just after the mirror is stolen, the simple art theft becomes a personal and professional challenge Alix can’t ignore. With backup from her friends in the FBI, her game-for-anything pal Chris, and an aging-but-dogged Italian police detective, she delves into the puzzling case, only to find that there is much more to this theft than meets the eye. Once the Mafia shows up on the scene, Alix’s mission becomes a do-or-die race to find the one possible man with all the answers.
Les‑Eyzies‑de‑Tayac is known for three things: pâté de fois gras, truffles, and prehistoric remains. The little village, in fact, is the headquarters of the prestigious Institute de Préhistoire, which studies the abundant local fossils. But when a pet dog emerges from a nearby cave carrying parts of a human skeleton—by no means a fossilized one—Chief Inspector Lucien Anatole Joly puts in a call to his old friend, Gideon Oliver, the famed “Skeleton Detective.” Once Gideon arrives, murder piles on murder, puzzle on puzzle, and twist follows twist in a series of unexpected events that threaten to tear the once sober, dignified Institut apart. It takes a bizarre and startling forensic breakthrough by Gideon to bring to an end a trail of deception thirty‑five thousand years in the making.
Skeleton Dance is the 10th book in the Gideon Oliver Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
This should be the cushiest job Alix London’s ever had.
The second Alix London mystery finds the art restorer in a world brimming with idle luxury, spectacular locations, and deadly intrigue.
Surrounded by art and wealth and the sun-drenched Greek isles, she’s aboard a sumptuous mega-yacht with no responsibilities save the occasional lecture to the guests of her temporary employer, Panos Papadakis, one of the world's richest men. But there’s a catch: Papadakis has long been suspected of being at the center of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme and Alix is actually there as an undercover operative of FBI special agent Ted Ellesworth, a member of the Bureau’s Art Crime Team. They hope Alix can gather the inside information they need to finally put the cagey Papadakis away.
Alix’s exposure to the enormous wealth of high-end collectors and the shadier aspects of the art trade—the avarice, naked greed, and ingenious scams—somehow brings her closer to her charming, "reformed" rogue of a father, and helps crystalize in her own mind just where she fits into the mix.
Moguls, murders, a forged Manet, and the Albanian mafia all play a role and send this pleasure cruise into brutally dangerous waters.
Set on the Aegean—Homer's fabled "wine-dark sea"—with stops at enchanted islands where ancient legends still live, A Cruise to Die For delivers a witty blend of suspense and mystery, as well as an insider’s take on the contemporary art world and its eccentric characters. It’s all served up with the style and sophistication with which Charlotte and Aaron Elkins have rewarded mystery readers for the past 30 years.
When art conservator Alix London spots a forgery, she knows trouble will follow. So she’s understandably apprehensive when her connoisseur’s eye spots something off about a multimillion-dollar Jackson Pollock painting at Palm Springs’s Brethwaite Museum—her current employer.
Alix is already under fire, the object of a vicious online smear campaign. Now the Brethwaite’s despicable senior curator, obsessed with the “maximization of monetized eyeballs,” angrily refuses to decommission the celebrated Pollock piece. But it’s only when a hooded intruder attacks Alix in her hotel room that the real trouble begins. And when FBI Special Agent Ted Ellesworth—with whom Alix had inadvertently, but thoroughly, botched a budding relationship just a year prior—turns up to investigate the Pollock, Alix knows she’s about to have her hands full.
In her third mystery, Alix London must see through mirages in the desert to uncover the knotted history of the painting—and save herself in the process.
Anthropology professor Gideon Oliver would prefer to keep his mind on his beautiful new bride Julie during their English honeymoon, but one intrusive question will not stop nagging at him: Who would want to steal a thirty‑thousand‑year‑old parieto‑occipital calvarial fragment?
Yet someone has lifted this chunk of prehistoric human skull from a musty museum in Dorchester. Then, thirty miles away, an archaeology student is murdered, increasing tension and suspicion at a dig that had already seethed with suspicion, rivalry, and mistrust. Could there be a connection between a hot bone and a cold‑blooded murder? Gideon is called on by the police to apply the unique skills for which the media have named him “the Skeleton Detective,” and he reluctantly agrees. Before he is done, his sleuthing will lead him to another murder and will—in the most literal and terrifying manner imaginable—sic the dogs on him, putting Gideon himself, and Julie as well, in mortal danger . . .
Murder in the Queen’s Armes is a suspenseful, fun-filled whodunit by the author of the Alix London and Chris Norgren series—a celebrated master who “thoroughly understands the art of the murder mystery” (The Philadelphia Inquirer).
Murder in the Queen’s Armes is the 3rd book in the Gideon Oliver Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
Deep in the primeval rainforest of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, the skeletal remains of a murdered man are discovered. And a strange, unsettling tale begins to unfold, for forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver determines that the murder weapon was a primitive bone spear of a type not seen for the last ten thousand years. And whoever—or whatever—hurled it did so with seemingly superhuman force. Bigfoot “sightings” immediately crop up, but Gideon is not buying them.
But something is continuing to kill people, and Gideon, helped by forest ranger Julie Tendler and FBI special agent John Lau, plunges into the dark heart of an unexplored wilderness to uncover the bizarre, astonishing explanation.
Fans of authors Kathy Reichs and Tess Gerritsen and television shows like Bones will be fascinated by Aaron Elkins’s award-winning landmark forensic detective series.
The Dark Place is the 2nd book in the Gideon Oliver Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.