Dying on the Vine (Gideon Oliver Series #17)

( 8 )

Overview

Edgar® Award–winning author Aaron Elkins’s creation—forensics professor Gideon Oliver—has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “a likable, down-to-earth, cerebral sleuth.” Now, the celebrated Skeleton Detective is visiting friends at a vineyard in Tuscany when murder leaves a bitter aftertaste…

It was the unwavering custom of Pietro Cubbiddu, patriarch of Tuscany’s Villa Antica wine empire, to take a solitary month-long sabbatical at the end of the early grape harvest, leaving ...

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Dying on the Vine (Gideon Oliver Series #17)

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Overview

Edgar® Award–winning author Aaron Elkins’s creation—forensics professor Gideon Oliver—has been hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “a likable, down-to-earth, cerebral sleuth.” Now, the celebrated Skeleton Detective is visiting friends at a vineyard in Tuscany when murder leaves a bitter aftertaste…

It was the unwavering custom of Pietro Cubbiddu, patriarch of Tuscany’s Villa Antica wine empire, to take a solitary month-long sabbatical at the end of the early grape harvest, leaving the winery in the trusted hands of his three sons. His wife, Nola, would drive him to an isolated mountain cabin in the Apennines and return for him a month later, bringing him back to his family and business.

So it went for almost a decade—until the year came when neither of them returned. Months later, a hiker in the Apennines stumbles on their skeletal remains. The carabinieri investigate and release their findings: they are dealing with a murder-suicide. The evidence makes it clear that Pietro Cubbiddu shot and killed his wife and then himself. The likely motive: his discovery that Nola had been having an affair.

Not long afterwards, Gideon Oliver and his wife, Julie, are in Tuscany visiting their friends, the Cubbiddu offspring. The renowned Skeleton Detective is asked to reexamine the bones. When he does, he reluctantly concludes that the carabinieri, competent though they may be, have gotten almost everything wrong. Whatever it was that happened in the mountains, a murder-suicide it was not.

Soon Gideon finds himself in a morass of family antipathies, conflicts, and mistrust, to say nothing of the local carabinieri’s resentment. And when yet another Cubbiddu relation meets an unlikely end, it becomes bone-chillingly clear that the killer is far from finished…

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Edgar-winner Elkins’s cleverly plotted 18th Gideon Oliver mystery (after 2009’s Skull Duggery) takes the man “known throughout the world of forensic science as the Skeleton Detective” to Tuscany, where he looks into the apparent murder-suicide of Pietro Cubbiddu, the strong-willed patriarch of the famous Cubbiddu wine-making family, and Pietro’s wife, Nola. After examining the remains, Gideon concludes that it’s an unusual double homicide instead. The family and its confidantes had motive and opportunity for killing the couple—but why push the bodies off a cliff, then shoot them after they’re already dead? The later murder of an estranged half-brother of the three grown Cubbiddu sons creates both clues and confusion. A convincing resolution more than offsets the painstaking discussions of the manner of death that initially slow the pace. Evocations of Tuscany and a lively cast of supporting characters, notably feisty police lieutenant Rocco Gardella, balance the cerebral investigation with charm. Agent: Lisa Erback Vance, Aaron M. Priest Literary. (Dec.)
Library Journal
After a three-year hiatus, "Skeleton Detective" Gideon Oliver heads to Tuscany in his 17th entry (after Skull Duggery). The vineyards hold dark secrets for his friends.
Kirkus Reviews
Yet another lecture/vacation junket, this time in Tuscany's wine region, turns into a murder investigation for forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver and his unexpectedly helpful wife, Julie. Eleven months after he disappeared during his routine monthly retreat to a cabin in the hills, Sardinian-born vintner Pietro Cubbiddu's skeletonized remains are discovered at the bottom of a steep cliff by a passing hiker, along with those of Nola, his wife of 25 years, who'd vanished soon after. Elderly police pathologist Dr. Melio Bosco pronounces the case a murder-suicide: Pietro shot Nola to death then sent her over the edge and followed both steps himself. Luckily, Gideon Oliver happens to be on hand to give a forensic seminar and visit Julie's old friend Linda Rutledge, whose husband, Luca, is one of Pietro's three sons and successors. In short order, Gideon determines that nearly everything about Dr. Bosco's reconstruction of the deaths is wrong. That turns out to be an important finding since a good deal depends on who died first and how, especially since Cesare, a son of Nola's first marriage, is suing his stepbrothers--Luca, Nico and Franco, the eldest son who's now running the winery--for financial and emotional losses. Nor can anyone be quite certain whether Pietro, on returning from the sabbatical he never completed, was going to accept a German brewer's offer of €5.5 million for the family company, which certainly would have strained family ties. A lot less tension for all hands than the unusually suspenseful The Worst Thing (2011). It's nice to see Gideon back in southern climes enjoying the good life, even if he's never cared for osso buco.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780425247884
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/4/2012
  • Series: Gideon Oliver Series , #17
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 711,598
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Aaron Elkins

Aaron Elkins is the author of the Edgar® Award–winning Gideon Oliver Mysteries as well as his most recent novel, The Worst Thing.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 8 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    The Skeleton Detective mystery series continues with this novel,

    The Skeleton Detective mystery series continues with this novel, set in the wine country of Tuscany. And the reader is treated to not only a first-rate crime story, but a gastronomic feast.

    Professor Gideon Oliver, on sabbatical, while attending a seminar at Carabinieri headquarters in Florence, meets Lt. Rocco Gardella, where he learns that the deaths of someone he knew, the owner of the fourth largest vineyard in the area, and his wife, have been “solved,” determined to be a murder-suicide. In discussion, the Italian policeman suggests that his “cousin” is the owner of the funeral home where the remains of the woman are to be cremated the next day and offers Gideon the opportunity to view the bones. How could a forensic anthropologist refuse?

    And never again would things remain the same, as Gideon raises questions about the death just by examining the bones, stating that while she did fall from a cliff, she was still alive until she hit the rocks where her body was found. Then later, upon viewing the husband’s bones, he tells Rocco that, as opposed to the conclusion of the police investigation, the man had died before his wife, causing the murder inquiry to be reopened. And thereby hangs a tale.

    Sprinkled with descriptions of various restaurants in Florence, and of Italian cuisine, not to mention wine making, the reader really is in store for a well-written treat, not to mention a wealth of information about anthropology. At the same time, the author constructs a complex puzzle for the reader to solve (if he/she can).

    Recommended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 10, 2014

    Great series. Keeps you guessing

    Love the series. Interesting and Informative. Entertaining read. Check out entire series. Have entire series on nookcolor.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2013

    Excellent, as always

    I have a secret yen for Gideon (only Mr Darcy rates higher), and believe it is well past time he left the very banal Julie for me.

    Seriously, this is a wonderful, entertaining book, with all of the usual pleasures of the best of Elkins work - fascinating puzzle, interesting bone infornation, and a delightful tour of the locale (I do prefer his European jaunts to the third world ones, so I was quite happy with this tale).

    I did think the ending a little weak; surely the culprit would have attempted to disguise the missing computer by covering,the blank spaces in some way, and as slapdash as the local police were, that would have been enough to let the obvious conclusion stand.

    That is a small thing, however, and did not diminish my enjoyment of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2013

    Time to Retire FBI agent John Lau

    This is a great story with an excellent plot and a plausible surprise ending. The attention to detailing the Italian setting is amazing (enough so I want to visit there). However to get through the story you have to cope with Lau's corny, stupid comments. He adds no insights; he complains too much; he whines. Aaron Elkins, have the FBI gracefully transfer him to some place where he and Gideon do not cross paths again.

    Allan MacLaren

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2012

    Good Read

    I enjoy the scholarly Gideon Oliver. I find that I read too fast sometimes and miss a clue. This time I almost figured out the solution, but once again there was a surprise.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012

    Scarheart

    *he sucks on it hard, purring.- (Kk!)

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 12, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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