AARON ELKINS – Make No Bones. Gideon Oliver #7. Mysterious Press, hardcover, 1991; paperback, 1994.

   The seven books about forensic anthropologist Dr. Gideon Oliver make up one of the more agreeable of the wave of “specialist” mystery series that have proliferated over th elast several years. While I — and I’m sure Elkins — regret the disfigurement that television visited upon his creation, the books themselves have retained their charms and readability.

   Here Oliver, his wife Julie, and FBI friend John Lau are attending a forensic anthropologists’ conference in Bed Oregon, at the Museum of Natural History there. The bones of a famous anthropologist — as well-hated personally as was respected professionally, and who was killed in an accident at a conference there ten years earlier — are to be installed in a permanent display in the museum.

   First the bones are stolen,. then a ten year.old body is discovered in a shallow grave, and then another `murder occurs. Are all these things. connected? Can the “bone doctor” help piece together the puzzle using his forensic skills? Of course, you silly thing.

   Elkins’ books make no pretense to being great literature, or anything else other than well-crafted light entertainment. If you 1onging for brooding atmosphere, seat-gripping suspense, or intricate psychological portraits of tortured souls, you’re on the wrong pew; often, the books have almost a “cozy” feel. The neighborhood you’re in features good unadorned writing, reasonable plots, characters you cab enjoy, and more often than not a very good sense of place. Oliver’s base is in the Pacific Northwest. Elkins lives there, loves it, and does well by it in his stories.

   Unless your taste in mysteries is limited to the dark and grim, I think you’ll like these. Recommended.

— Reprinted from Fireman, Fireman, Save My Books #4, November 1992.

Bibliographic Notes:   Make No Bones was an Agatha Award Best Novel nominee for 1991. There are now 18 books in this series, with the most recent, Switcheroo, having a 2016 publication date. A complete list can be found here, along with all of Elkins’ other books, including three other series and three standalones.