My review of Aaron Elkins story in the Gideon Oliver series, 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.

The steamy jungles weigh down on the band of eccentric anthropologists as one by one the curses continue to materialize. It takes Gideon’s special talents for deduction—along with the enigmatic insights of Mexico’s one and only Mayan Indian inspector of the state judicial police—to resolve an ancient riddle and a modern, murderous mystery.

5 stars

Awesome little story about murder at an archaeology dig in the Yucatan Peninsula. I really loved this one. I’m possibly biased having wanted to be an archaeologist at one time and studied anthropology for a time in college. I even got to see some Mayan ruins on a trip to Belize back in ’08. So yeah, I guess I’m a bit biased. Sue me.

I love the interactions between Gideon and Abe. And I liked the police inspector as well. Most of the characters weren’t very deep though. The ending was no great surprise. But the pacing was excellent, it moved right along and held my interest well. My biggest surprise was finding out that the Mayaland Hotel is a real place. I like to use internet mapping to get an idea of what the geography of the area in the story is, and lo-and-behold the Mayaland Hotel popped up right outside Chichen Itza!

The eBook was formatted well with only a couple of noticeable spelling/punctuation errors.

see also this post about my trip to Cahal Pech for photos of what Mayan ruins look like.