My review of Aaron Elkin’s Old Bones


Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery novel of the year.

With the roar of thunder and the speed of a galloping horse comes the tide to Mont St. Michel goes the old nursery song. So 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. He quickly demonstrates why he is known as the “Skeleton Detective,” providing the police with forensic details that lead them to conclude that these are the remains of a Nazi officer believed to have been murdered in the area during the Occupation. Or are they? Gideon himself has his doubts. Then, when another of the current du Rochers dies—this time via cyanide poisoning—his doubts solidify into a single certainty: someone wants old secrets to stay buried . . . and is perfectly willing to eradicate the meddlesome American to make that happen.

4 Stars

Overall, a pretty good book, probably closer to 3.5 stars than 4. I actually liked it better the 2nd time I read it. It did start off kinda slow. The main character only had like 2 pages of activity in the first 20% of the book. The plot wasn’t all that surprising, I was able to figure out the main twists well before climax. The ultimately responsible murderer was a surprise, though not the reason why. The character development was decent and I really liked Gideon, John and Joly. The later scene at Mont St. Michel seemed a little forced, though it’s a place I would LOVE to visit.

The eBook was formatted reasonably well with no obvious spelling or grammatical errors, though the line spacing was a little odd at times.