My review of Aaron Elkins’ novel 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.

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.

4 Stars

There were parts of this book that I dearly loved. The ethnography was great. The descriptions of the area made me want to go visit. I really like Gideon, though I find him a little too stuck on formal education credentialing at times, and I like the introduction of Julie. The pacing was good, the story moved right along.

But there were also parts of this book that I found completely frustrating and made me want to strangle the characters at times. For one, I was pretty sure of the weapon from the opening pages. And the fact that the anthropologist in the story didn’t think of it, but instead attributed the force to ‘super human strength’ had me wanting to pull my hair out (assuming I wasn’t bald already). Or the fact that immediately after being brained by a stone ax and knocked unconscious, Julie and Gideon starting tracking the little old man who found Gideon, even though Gideon was kind of thinking that it wasn’t the old guy who did it. Why not look around for the tracks of the person who DID whack you on the noggin? The whole sequence with the Big Foot hunters could have been completely left out as well.

One of the things that stood out to me, struck me as rather funny at the time, was how in 1982 there were people driving around with firearms in a National Park. In 1983 congress pretty much outlawed all civilian firearms in National Parks, which lasted until 2009.

The eBook was formatted well with only a couple of minor spelling errors noticed.