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Where There's a Will (Gideon Oliver Series #12)

Where There's a Will (Gideon Oliver Series #12)

4.7 4
by Aaron Elkins

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Alex Torkelsson has just gotten word: after going missing ten years ago, Alex's late uncle Magnus's plane has been found south of Hawaii's Big Island. So too have Magnus's few skeletal remains, now handed over to the only man who can fit together the pieces of this mystery. But what forensic detective Gideon Oliver discovers could shake the Torkelsson family


Alex Torkelsson has just gotten word: after going missing ten years ago, Alex's late uncle Magnus's plane has been found south of Hawaii's Big Island. So too have Magnus's few skeletal remains, now handed over to the only man who can fit together the pieces of this mystery. But what forensic detective Gideon Oliver discovers could shake the Torkelsson family tree.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Bones fascinate forensics professor Gideon Oliver. Even on vacation in Hawaii, he can't resist them. Gideon is dining with the wealthy, eccentric Torkelsson clan at the Hoalaha Cattle Ranch when the family receives some life-altering news. On a tragic night ten years before, Magnus Torkelsson vanished along with his small plane, while his brother Torkel was brutally murdered, his body burned beyond recognition. Now the wreckage of Magnus's plane has been found, along with human remains. Given his extensive experience in the area, Gideon is invited to accompany the crew to the site of the crash to try to fit the last piece into this grim family puzzle.

The surviving Torkelssons benefited greatly from Magnus's will when the old man was declared legally dead. Still, they seem pleased by the prospect of some real closure. Most of the remains are those of a young female pilot; but others -- bones from a skeletal foot with two toes missing -- raise more questions than they answer. Those missing toes prove that it was Torkel -- not Magnus -- who went down with the plane, challenging the previous identification of the burned corpse. Suddenly, Magnus's will is called into question; without definitive proof of his death, his heirs stand to lose their generous inheritances. Then the family matriarch meets an untimely end, and Gideon has a third mystery on his hands.

Edgar Award–winning author Aaron Elkins scores another winner, as his famous "Skeleton Detective" embarks on adventure in Aloha-land. Sue Stone
Marilyn Stasio
Although the twisted story is locked up in family history, Elkins's wide-angle view of the spectacular adds a stunning perspective.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
In Edgar-winner Elkins's solid 12th whodunit to feature forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver (after 2004's acclaimed Good Blood), Oliver's Hawaiian vacation turns into a busman's holiday, as he and close friend John Lau, an FBI agent who's also enjoying some downtime, get involved in a decade-old mystery surrounding the deaths of two elderly Swedish brothers who owned a huge cattle ranch. One night in 1994, hit men acting for an unknown client murdered Torkel Torkelsson, then attempted to conceal the corpse with an act of arson; that same night, Magnus Torklesson and a pilot took off in a small plane, never to be heard from again. Now divers have discovered the wreckage of the long-lost plane in a lagoon, with some skeletal remains. Soon learning that none of the original police investigation's conclusions may be valid, Oliver and Lau find themselves intrigued and frustrated by the lies and evasions pitched rapidly at them by the Torkelssons' heirs, all of whom have different motives for obscuring the truth. Oliver's deductions will remind classic mystery readers of archetypal scientific sleuth Dr. Thorndyke, and his three-dimensional personality and humor will continue to attract first-timers. Agent, Lisa Vance at the Aaron Priest Agency. (Apr. 5) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Some ten-year-old remains turn forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver's Hawaiian trip into a busman's holiday. Magnus Torkelsson's surviving sister Dagmar and his four nieces and nephews all agree on what happened on the Hoalaha Cattle Ranch back in 1994. Hours after somebody-two somebodies, from the ballistic evidence-shot Magnus's brother Torkel to death and burned down the house around him, Magnus took off for parts unknown and was never seen again. Now a fortuitous invitation from Magnus's nephew Axel means that Gideon and his FBI buddy John Lau, Axel's old college friend, are on hand when Magnus's airplane turns up with his remains and those of Claudia Albert, a pilot with a past. Gideon (Good Blood, 2003, etc.) can't imagine a better way to repay the family for their hospitality than examining the bones that have spent a decade in a warm lagoon. But the conclusions that he draws from a single skeletal foot spell trouble for rancher Axel; his brother Felix, a Honolulu land-use lawyer; his sister Inge, who runs a dude ranch on her share of the Hoalaha estate, and his sister Hedwig, who's turned her spread into a holistic wellness center. Gideon is too content with the sun to spend much time with the suspects, and the plot is a little too determined to prove wrong absolutely everything you assume about Magnus's disappearance. But it all adds up to a diverting, mildly mystifying vacation.

Product Details

Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
Gideon Oliver Series , #12
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.69(h) x 0.75(d)

Meet the Author

Aaron Elkins is the author of the Edgar Award-winning Gideon Oliver mysteries.

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Where There's a Will (Gideon Oliver Series #12) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An entertaining read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Overall this is a great forensic science book. This is the first book i have read by Aaron Elkins. I liked how descirptive the beginning was of the characters and the setting, it was very useful for my project. I liked how the investigator, Gideon, used what he had to recreate what he needed to solve the murder of Magnus Torkelsson. I was also surprised to find out that there was not one, but two murders. I would recomend this book to those who enjoy forensic science and are interested in anthropology. I hope i have caught you attention and attracted you to this book without giving away too much.
AnnBKeller More than 1 year ago
Bloodied and half alive, Magnus Torkelsson flees the lush island of Hawaii in a small plane. Unfortunately, he and his young pilot overshoot their remote island refuge and go down somewhere in the vast Pacific Ocean. Seven years pass and Magnus is at last declared legally dead. His huge holdings are divided among his family, making them very wealthy and all is apparently as it should be. Then somebody locates the small plane. Gideon Oliver, a forensic detective, kindly offers his services to the Torkelsson family, but he uncovers more questions than answers. They locate the body of the pilot and Uncle Magnus¿ boot in the plane, with his skeletal foot still lodged inside. Where is the rest of him? A horrible family tragedy comes to light, the apparent murder of Magnus¿ brother, Torkel. As a result of an accident, Torkel only had three toes on one foot and had easily been identified among the charred remains of a barn. When why did the skeletal foot recovered from the small plane hundreds of miles away also have just three toes? The nieces and nephews are becoming more and more nervous and every Torkelsson family meeting seems to generate another elaborate story, another set of lies to tell the police. Sergeant Fukida of the local police reopens the Torkelsson case and begins to interview those involved. Even Dagmar Torkelsson, Magnus¿ and Torkel¿s elderly sister, seems to have had enough and contemplates coming clean with the entire story. To keep her mouth shut, someone kills her. What horrible secret is so important that it is worth committing murder many times over? The questions and bodies are mounting. If Gideon doesn¿t watch out, he may very well become a part of the tragedy, too. I had never read one of Mr. Elkins¿ novels before, but I found his writing style delightful. His characters have grit. His descriptions are so realistic that I could almost feel the salty spray of the sea upon my cheeks and envision the lush, tropical island paradise stretched out before me. Mr. Elkins weaves a mean tale of intrigue and danger and I would pick up and read another one of his books in a second.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
In 1994, wealthy Magnus Torkelsson is fleeing for his life trying to reach remote Tarabao Island in the Hawaiian chain. However, the bad weather hinders visibility and soon the small plane runs out of gas. Magnus and his pilot Texas transplant Claudia crash into the sea.--- A decade later, divers in a lagoon 400 miles off the Big island of Hawaii find a plane with two skeletons inside. At the same time Magnus¿ family learn that his remains have been found, University of Washington at Port Angeles Physical Anthropology Professor Gideon Oliver has attended an anthropology forensics conference and is heading to the ranch of his best friend FBI Agent John Lau. John asks Gideon to look at the evidence, but soon the mainlander begins to unravel a family filled with lies and avarice in which not only was Magnus killed by at least one heir, but his sibling may have been a murder victim too.--- Aaron Elkins provides a fabulous 'A' quality level forensic investigative tale in which the author freshens up the actions of his champion Gideon by temporarily relocating him to Hawaii and not always the main islands. Fans not only see up front the Hawaiian archipelago, but also are engrossed in a mystery that at first does not seem like a homicide, but more an accident. Readers will enjoy this first rate who-done-it as the cast and the locale make for a fine tropical mystery.--- Harriet Klausner