A Gideon Oliver Mystery by Aaron Elkins
Review: Gideon Oliver, his wife Julie, and John Lau, a close friend, are wrapping up a visit in Malaga when they meet up with Rafe Carlisle, a wealthy landowner from the island of Jersey, who tells them a most interesting tale, in Switcharoo, the eighteenth mystery in this series by Aaron Elkins.
In the mid-1960s, Rafe's father, Roderick Carlisle, the owner of a dairy farm on the island, was accused of murdering his business partner, neighbor, and cousin George Skinner. At the same time, Roderick Carlisle and Bertrand Peltier, a trusted employee, disappeared with over £1 million in company money. The police at the time believed the crimes were related and suspected Carlisle of the murder. Five years later, while excavating on the Carlisle property, two sets of bones were recovered, presumably those of Carlisle and Peltier. But the condition of the bones was so degraded that the identity of them could not be confirmed at the time. With so many unanswered questions from the past, Rafe then asks Gideon, Might he be interested in taking a look at them? Indeed he would!
Switcharoo makes for a mostly entertaining, relaxing read but it is far from a whodunit-style mystery and, given the premise of Gideon Oliver being the "Skeleton Detective", he really doesn't do much skeletal detecting. There is a contemporary murder, of course, which Gideon helps solve, albeit not so much from old bones, but, in a slightly unexpected twist, from bones nonetheless. As has become typical with the later books in this series, there is a lot of discussion about food, the local scenery, the history of wherever Gideon happens to be, and more, none of which have anything to do with the story but make for a colorful backdrop to it. Too, the introduction, which is set in the early 1940s, goes on for nearly a sixth of the book, and the details of which are repeated (albeit in a much more abbreviated fashion) twice later. As a consequence, what's left over, the mystery element, if you will, is much more appropriate for a short story or novella than the basis for a full-length novel. Overall, a pleasant entry in this long-running series, but not a terribly memorable one.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided an eARC of Switcheroo for this review.
Review Copyright © 2016 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Berkley Prime Crime (Hardcover), September 2009
ISBN-13: 9780425227978; ISBN-10: 0425227979
Location(s) referenced in Switcheroo: The Channel Island of Jersey
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Switcheroo by Aaron Elkins — A Gideon Oliver Mystery
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: February 2016
List Price: $15.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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