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…
When Gideon Oliver and his wife, Julie, are in Tuscany visiting the Cubbiddu family, the renowned Skeleton Detective is asked to reexamine the remains of a mysterious family tragedy. Pietro Cubbiddu, former patriarch of the Villa Antica wine empire, is thought to have killed his wife and then himself in the remote mountains of the Apennines. It does not take long for Gideon to deduce that, whatever happened, 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 authority’s resentment. And when yet another Cubbiddu relation meets an unlikely end, it becomes bone-chillingly clear that the killer is far from finished…
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.
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Marti is annoying and whiney. Not to mention a high-maintenance travel companion. John can do better!