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Make No Bones

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

MAKE NO BONES is the sixth offering featuring Aaron Elkin’s unassuming yet highly astute amateur detective, Gideon Oliver. On this outing, anthropologist Gideon brings his park ranger wife, Julie, and FBI agent friend, John Lau, with him to the Fifth Biennial Conference of the Western Association of Forensic Anthropologists (WAFA), held at the Whitebark Lodge in Bend, Oregon.

The day after the conference opens, it is discovered that the charred remains of anthropologist Albert Evan Jasper, on display at the local museum of natural history, have gone missing. What is interesting about this is that Jasper was a teacher of the seven founding members of WAFA, who had met at Whitebark Lodge ten years earlier to honor their mentor. Jasper was killed in a bus crash on his way home from that first conference. He had stipulated in his will that his remains be used in furtherance of the study of anthropology; as a result, they were on display at the museum.

Jasper was an arrogant man and had embarrassed a number of his students. Could one of the founding members be responsible for the disappearance of his remains? As Gideon, not a founding member, searches for the answer, he unearths a body, encounters more murder, and uncovers ten-year-old secrets.

Using forensic anthropological jargon with enough explanation to inform the reader, Elkins spins an intriguing mystery interlaced with humor and memorable characters.