The skeleton detective!
What is the Gideon Oliver series about?
Launched in 1982, the Gideon Oliver series is a series of novels written by American mystery writer Aaron Elkins featuring a forensic anthropologist.
Also known as the ‘skeleton detective,’ Gideon Oliver is a University anthropology professor who is utilizing his knowledge of past cultures to solve crimes around the World.
How to read the Gideon Oliver Books in Order?
Every book in the Gideon Oliver series works as a standalone story, but the lives of the different characters evolve from one novel to the other.
- Fellowship of Fear – 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.
- The Dark Place – 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.
- Murder in the Queen’s Armes – 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?
- Old Bones – 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.
- Curses! – Mayan ruins in the Yucatán . . . a secret room in a tomb . . . age‑old skeletons. To anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the renowned Skeleton Detective, the invitation to join the archaeological excavation of Tlaloc promises two months of paradise on Earth. That is, until an ancient series of Mayan curses against desecrators of the site is unearthed. When the first one comes to pass (“The bloodsucking kinkajou will come freely among them”), it is taken by all as a practical joke. But by the time the fourth one is apparently consummated (“The one called Xecotcavach will pierce their skulls so that their brains spill onto the earth”), nerves have begun to fray and suspicions and discord are mounting.
- Icy Clutches – Gideon Oliver expects to be amicably bored when he takes on the role of “accompanying spouse” at a lodge in the magnificent wild country of Glacier Bay, Alaska, where his forest ranger wife, Julie, is attending a conference. But it turns out to be exactly his cup of tea. There is another group at the lodge: six scientists on a memorial journey to the site of a thirty‑year‑old glacial avalanche that killed three of their colleagues. Their leader is TV’s most popular science personality, the unctuous M. Audley Tremaine, who is the sole survivor of the fatal avalanche. But he does not survive long and is soon found hanged in his room.
- Make No Bones – There is not much left of the irascible Albert Evan Jasper, “dean of American forensic anthropologists,” after his demise in a fiery car crash. But in accord with his wishes, his remains-a few charred bits of bone-are installed in an Oregon museum to create a fascinating if macabre exhibit. All agree that it is a fitting end for a great forensic scientist-until what is left of him disappears in the midst of the biannual meeting of the august WAFA-the Western Association of Forensic Anthropologists-in nearby Bend, Oregon. Like his fellow attendees, Gideon Oliver is baffled.
- Dead Men’s Hearts – 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.
- Twenty Blue Devils – The dead man is the manager of Tahiti’s Paradise Coffee Plantation, producer of the most expensive coffee bean in the world, the winey, luscious Blue Devil. Nothing tangible points to foul play behind his fall from a cliff, but FBI agent John Lau, a relative of the coffee‑growing family, has his suspicions. What he needs is evidence, and who better to provide it than his friend, anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the Skeleton Detective?
- Skeleton Dance – 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.”
- Good Blood – While enjoying their holiday on an idyllic Italian island, anthropologist Gideon Oliver and his wife find themselves caught up in a case of kidnapping and murder when the local padrone’s only child, Achille, is abducted, bones are discovered, and Gideon becomes caught up in the investigation into the crimes.
- Where There’s a Will – Alex Torkelsson has just gotten word: his late uncle Magnus’s plane has been found south of Hawaii’s Big Island after ten long years. So too have Magnus’s few skeletal remains, now handed over to the only man who can fit together the pieces of this mystery… What forensic detective Gideon Oliver discovers could shake the Torkelsson family tree to its very roots. But this time his work is yielding more questions about the past than answers.
- Unnatural Selection – Heading for the Isles of Scilly, off the Cornwall coast, with his wife, who has been invited to attend a consortium hosted by Russian expatriate Vasily Kozlov, forensics professor Gideon Oliver is delighted to spend the time puttering around local Neolithic sites, until he stumbles upon a much newer bone that could be tied to a brand-new murder.
- Little Tiny Teeth – Sailing the Amazon with a group of botanists, ‘Skeleton Detective’ Gideon Oliver is on his dream vacation. But it turns nightmarish when fierce head-hunters narrowly miss killing the group leader, then a deranged passenger kills a botanist and flees. Long-past enmities and resentments-and new ones as well-might explain things. And when a fresh skeleton turns up in the river, Gideon is sure that, in this jungle full of predators, humans may be the deadliest of all.
- Uneasy Relations – Buried ceremoniously, high in a cave on the Rock of Gibraltar, lies the skeleton of a human woman, clutching the skeleton of a part-human, part-Neanderthal child. Fascinated, Professor Oliver jumps at the chance to visit the site. But two deaths, possibly murders, have rocked Gibraltar. As Oliver tries to piece things together, he’s about to fall for some deadly tricks. After all, unlike the Gibraltar Boy, he’s only human.
- Skull Duggery – Gideon is happy to be in Mexico with his wife-until he’s asked to examine the mummified corpse of a drifter thought to be shot to death. Gideon’s findings reveal that the cause of death is far more bizarre. Then he’s asked to examine the skeleton of a murder victim found a year earlier-only to discover another coroner error. The Skeleton Detective knows that two “mistakenly” identified bodies are never a coincidence.
- Dying on the Vine – When Gideon Oliver and his wife, Julie, are in Tuscany visiting the Cubbiddu family, the renowned Skeleton Detective is asked to reexamine the remains of a mysterious family tragedy. Pietro Cubbiddu, former patriarch of the Villa Antica wine empire, is thought to have killed his wife and then himself in the remote mountains of the Apennines. It does not take long for Gideon to deduce that, whatever happened, a murder-suicide it was not.
- Switcheroo – A cold case dating from the 1960s draws forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver to the Channel Islands decades later to shine a light on the mysterious connection between two men who died there on the same night. Swapped as young boys by their fathers during the Nazi occupation, wealthy Roddy Carlisle and middle-class George Skinner had some readjusting to do after the war ended-but their lives remained linked through work, trouble with the law, and finally, it would seem, through murder.