AARON ELKINS – Old Scores. Chris Norgren #3. Scribner’s, hardcover, 1993. Fawcett Gold Medal, paperback, 1994.


   One thing about Elkins, he picks widely varying specialties for his series characters. Though he’s best known for his “bone doctor” series about Gideon Oliver, the Norgren books seem to be picking up speed. Chris Norgren is curator at the Seattle Art Museum, and who’d have thought the world of acquisitions would be so hazardous?

   A famous French collector wants to give the museum a Rembrandt — great, hein? Well, maybe. There are a couple of catches: the painting has no provenance, and no scientific tests will be allowed.

   Chris’s director wants him to go to France and make an accept/reject decision. Chris wants to reject it out of hand, but goes anyway, at the cost of some discombobulation to his already shaky love life.

   Things are even weirder than expected in France, the situation turns nasty, and murder is done. Well, hell, what did you expect?

   I don’t believe for a minute that any museum would even consider accepting a master painting without provenance and/or testing, but what do I know about museums? Aside from that, this is the kind of entertaining tale I’ve come to expect from Elkins.

   I like Norgren as a character, and find the artistic background interesting and edifying. Elkins tells a good story, and creates a good set of supporting characters. His stories fall somewhere between cozy and hard-edged, and while I don’t think anyone would call them memorable, they provide an entertaining read.

— Reprinted from Ah, Sweet Mysteries #7, May 1993.


Editorial Comments:   In spite of Barry’s feeling that Elkins’ Chris Norgren series was catching on, this was the third and last of his recorded adventures.

       The Chris Norgren series —

1. A Deceptive Clarity (1987)
2. A Glancing Light (1991)
3. Old Scores (1993)

   As of this month’s publication of The Worst Thing, there are seventeen Gideon Oliver books. Aaron Elkins’ wife Charlotte has been his co-author with five books in their Lee Ofsted series. The latter is a lady professional golfer; her first appearance was in A Wicked Slice (1989).