Twenty Blue Devils (Gideon Oliver Series #9)

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Overview

The dead man is the manager of Tahiti's Paradise Coffee plantation, producer of the most expensive coffee bean in the world - the winey, luscious Blue Devil. His fall from a cliff is the latest accident in a string of mishaps, and although nothing tangible points to foul play, FBI agent John Lau has his suspicions. What he needs is evidence - and the best forensic expert in the business, his friend anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the Skeleton Detective. Gideon likes his java strong and his bones ancient, dry, and ...
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Twenty Blue Devils

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Overview

The dead man is the manager of Tahiti's Paradise Coffee plantation, producer of the most expensive coffee bean in the world - the winey, luscious Blue Devil. His fall from a cliff is the latest accident in a string of mishaps, and although nothing tangible points to foul play, FBI agent John Lau has his suspicions. What he needs is evidence - and the best forensic expert in the business, his friend anthropologist Gideon Oliver, the Skeleton Detective. Gideon likes his java strong and his bones ancient, dry, and dusty. But the body he must examine had lain in the tropical sun for a week before it was found, and then buried native-style, without a casket. If this case is not exactly Gideon's cup of...well, tea, it is not the state of the remains that bothers him. It's the real human ugliness he suspects he'll soon unearth. To make matters worse, Gideon finds trouble in paradise: a most unwelcoming local police commandant, a strange reluctance by the Blue Devil owners to uncover any wrong-doing, and the lack of an exhumation order. Sneaking into a graveyard with a shovel and flashlight isn't his idea of a professional analysis. And what he finds six feet under will prove the ultimate test of his skills: a subtle clue that points to foul play, and bones so puzzling that they have Gideon stumped...for a while. Now Gideon must cut to the heart of a crime to find the motive that may have percolated through a family for decades - and brewed a taste for murder.

The ninth entry in Elkins' Edgar Award-winning series digs up murder and treachery in Tahiti. Anthropologist/sleuth Gideon Oliver travels to Tahiti with FBI agent John Lau to exhume a body buried on a coffee plantation--only to be told when they arrive that there services are no longer needed. Sensing a secret too tantalizing to ignore, Gideon and John dig up the bones anyway. 304 pp. Print ads. Author publicity. 25,000 print.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly
Whimsical, intricately plotted...terribly clever.
NY Times Book Review
Gideon knows his bones -- and, in this case, his beans.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Gideon Oliver, the shrewd, witty and self-deprecating forensic anthropologist, is at the top of his form in his ninth appearance (after Dead Men's Hearts, 1994). This tale, populated with a memorable and well-defined cast, finds Gideon traveling to Tahiti with friend and FBI agent John Lau to investigate what might have been the murder of Brian Scott, manager of the thriving, family-owned Paradise Coffee Plantation and common-law husband of the owner's daughter Thrse. Amid rumors of Mafia retaliation for earlier, unfriendly testimony by plantation owner Nick Druett, Gideon runs into unexpected obstacles. Neither Nick nor Thrse wants Brian's body exhumed; Nick's good friend, the pompous head of the local gendarmerie, agrees. Gideon, perceptive as always, notices something extraordinary in the official photographs of Brian and, as the ensuing investigation progresses, the seemingly close-knit family begins to unravel. Thrse, who is docile and uncommunicative, her politically correct sister and other, more devious family members are all at odds over a lucrative offer to buy the plantation, a move Brian had opposed. Zipping along at a smooth and rapid clip, the story combines masterfully etched characters and suggestions of lingering aromas of frangipani and coconut palms with the consummate panache of its hero. Elkins rewards his readers with a riveting mystery even while altering forever the way they will view their trendy, upscale coffee. Mystery Guild featured alternate; author tour. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews
There must be trouble brewing at Nick Druett's Paradise Coffee Plantation. Nick's daughter Thérèse has sent back the lava samples she swiped from Hawaii, returning them in hopes of propitiating the volcano goddess Pele, who she can only hope has been responsible for the wave of infernal accidents (a worker maimed by new equipment, tons of coffee beans ruined by improper storage, two near-fatalities for Thérèse's unofficial husband Brian Scott) in her parents' Tahitian paradise. But Pele, or whoever, is undeterred. When a third accident leaves Brian dead, Thérèse's cousin, FBI agent John Lau, brings in forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver to examine Brian's corpse and see if he wasn't dispatched by a less divine agency. Nick, who'd originally requested an exhumation order, begins to waffle, and the police commandant won't let Oliver dig up the corpse. He must have read the Skeleton Detective's eight previous adventures (Dead Men's Hearts, 1994, etc.) and remembered what wizardry he can work on the most reluctant bones. But even he can't predict the spectacular deductions Oliver will base on an old head injury of Brian's and on his monster fibulas—or the hilarious home truths about the coffee business that'll follow.

Elkins has never gotten his due as a comic Patricia Cornwell. Maybe this tale, which beautifully balances tangy Tahitian backgrounds with a deft and brainy whodunit, will be the wake-up call.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446405263
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/28/1997
  • Series: Gideon Oliver Series, #9
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 4.22 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

Aaron Elkins
Aaron Elkins
Aaron Elkins is also the author of two stand-alone thrillers as well as three novels in a series written with his wife Charlotte, and three novels in another series that takes place in the art world.
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Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 21, 2012

    Entertaining

    The book was entertaining and I did learn something from reading it. I think I may be tiring of Gideon's character, though. He and Julie need to have a medium or minor falling out. They're relationship is a little saccharin. I do enjoy the author's descriptions of the settings.

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