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Murder in the Queen's Armes (1985)

por Aaron Elkins

Séries: Gideon Oliver (3)

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381750,391 (3.68)16
The Skeleton Detective puzzles over the theft of an ancient bit of bone--and a student's murder--in this novel by the Edgar Award-winning author of Switcheroo. Anthropology professor Gideon Oliver would prefer to keep his mind on his beautiful new bride Julie during their English honeymoon, but one intrusive question will not stop nagging at him: Who would want to steal a thirty‑thousand‑year‑old parieto‑occipital calvarial fragment? Yet someone has lifted this chunk of prehistoric human skull from a musty museum in Dorchester. Then, thirty miles away, an archaeology student is murdered, increasing tension and suspicion at a dig that had already seethed with suspicion, rivalry, and mistrust. Could there be a connection between a hot bone and a cold‑blooded murder? Gideon is called on by the police to apply the unique skills for which the media have named him "the Skeleton Detective," and he reluctantly agrees. Before he is done, his sleuthing will lead him to another murder and will--in the most literal and terrifying manner imaginable--sic the dogs on him, putting Gideon himself, and Julie as well, in mortal danger . . . Murder in the Queen's Armes is a suspenseful, fun-filled whodunit by the author of the Alix London and Chris Norgren series--a celebrated master who "thoroughly understands the art of the murder mystery" (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Murder in the Queen's Armes is the 3rd book in the Gideon Oliver Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.  … (mais)
Adicionado recentemente porMAR67, chibitika, keepps, jessica256, l3353samuel, leslie.98
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I don't know why but I delight in mysteries that involve archeology so Elkins series is a great fit for me. This book was also a good "palate cleanser" for me after several days immersed in upsetting TV news. ( )
  leslie.98 | Jan 10, 2021 |
I am a fan of mysteries where the detective has some kind of scientific or technical specialty; Aaron Elkins’ creation, physical anthropologist Gideon Oliver, has therefore always appealed to me. I picked up Murder in the Queen’s Armes thinking it was a new book; it turned out, however, to be one of Elkins’ early works reissued with a new cover. It’s not bad, but clearly not as good as the more recent stories. There’s an error in historical background so egregious that I was sure it would somehow figure in the story:


“It was two hours before they arrived for dinner at the Judge Jeffreys on High Street, an ancient inn with a grim past, having been the lodging of Baron George Jeffreys, the presiding judge at the Bloody Assize of 1685, when seventy-four of Cromwell’s royalist opponents had been executed.”


(The error being that the Bloody Assize was after the Monmouth Rebellion; Cromwell had been dead for years).


And a number of punches are telegraphed: when an archeologist is identified as a left-handed former minor league baseball pitcher who rides a chopper, you can bet the poor guy’s going to end up dead so Dr. Oliver can identify the body based on characteristic bone wear; and when Dr. Oliver and his wife encounter an immense half staghound/half mastiff, you can also bet that the creature will end up pursuing them across the Devonshire moors.


Nonetheless, it’s a pleasant read; just the thing for a moderate length airplane flight or a couple of hours outside on a sunny afternoon. ( )
  setnahkt | Dec 15, 2017 |
In some ways, this is the kind of mystery I normally like very much. The detective is an agreeable academic, to be precise a professor of physical anthropology, who is normally "the smartest man in the room" (as a devoted Holmes fan, I am not fond of bumbling detectives or those who struggle through repeated false theories like Asimov's Elijah Bailey) . In this novel he is enjoying a delightful honeymoon (I am not fond of detectives with tortured private lives) in rural (or at least small-town) Britain (which I love from my experience), though he himself is from the US northwest. On the other hand, on page 13 it had a flagrant historical error, describing Judge Jeffreys and "the Bloody Assize of 1685 when seventy-four of Cromwell's royalist opponents had been executed " Considering that Cromwell died in 1658 and King Charles II's Restoration was in 1660, followed by his brother James II's reign starting in 1685, this is an extremely obvious error. In fact , the victims in the Bloody Assize were supporters of the duke of Monmouth's Protestant rebellion against the Catholic James II --ideologically, Monmouth's revels were much closer to Cromwell than the royalist Jeffreys who condemned them. perhaps because I was sensitized by this error, I began to question more significant aspects of the story -- why would Oliver, who is an expert on prehistoric bones, notice obvious defensive injuries on a modern corpse sooner than a pathologist much more experienced with modern victims of violence, injuries that Oliver notes despite the shattered bones being covered with rotting flesh (to which the pathologist is accustomed and Oliver is not) ? (The explanation given, that pathologists neglect the long bones, seems unlikely). Why would an archaeologist noted for his meticulous excavation technique overlook obvious signs that a bone has been "planted" in his dig, signs that Oliver spots immediately? (The explanation, that the find confirms the archaeologist's pet theory, is possible, but goes counter to the plot-important stress on his insistence on meticulous technique elsewhere.) For that matter, why would that one bone still be in the ground weeks after it is discovered, when a the other finds are carefully removed and cataloged? No explanation is given, and this variation in practice is necessary for Oliver to spot the evidence of its being planted, though since he also recognizes it as a famous bone stolen from a museum, the evidence of planting is superfluous. . Why would a young man in about 1985 exhibit the psychological symptoms resulting from being forced to shift from left to right handedness, when this practice has been abandoned in western countries? I think this one is actually more debatable --by the time the book was republished in 2005, the practice of "correction" was outdated, but it might not have been in the 1960s when a young man of 1985 would have been growing up. Overall, I thought the book was enjoyable light reading, but carelessly contrived. I like a genuinely superior detective, not on whose "evidence" is pre-cooked for him to discover. ( )
  antiquary | Sep 30, 2017 |
Gideon Oliver is honeymooning in England with his wife Julie. he stops by the archaeological dig of a friend of his, Nate Marcus, and Nate asks Gideon to come back in two weeks to verify a big find. On his way out of the dig site Gideon is stopped by one of Nate's grad students who wants to meet Gideon that night to discuss something important. The student never shows up and when Gideon returns it turns out that the student was murdered. Gideon feels responsible and begins investigating the case. A good mystery that holds up well considering it was written in the 1980's. ( )
  RachelNF | Jan 15, 2016 |
Gideon Oliver is honeymooning in Dorset and pays a visit to an archaeological dig where one of the team has been missing for a few days. He senses that something isn't quite right at the time, and when a body shows up a few days later, Gideon is asked to provide an expert opinion on the bones of the victim since much of the body decomposed or was eaten by fish in the coastal waters. Soon Gideon's sense of something amiss is confirmed as fraud and other irregularities at the dig become evident. This is not the most solid mystery although the solution to it does make sense. The problems lie in manner in which the author wove the story to reach the conclusion. It is still a quite interesting read. ( )
  thornton37814 | May 10, 2013 |
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The Skeleton Detective puzzles over the theft of an ancient bit of bone--and a student's murder--in this novel by the Edgar Award-winning author of Switcheroo. Anthropology professor Gideon Oliver would prefer to keep his mind on his beautiful new bride Julie during their English honeymoon, but one intrusive question will not stop nagging at him: Who would want to steal a thirty‑thousand‑year‑old parieto‑occipital calvarial fragment? Yet someone has lifted this chunk of prehistoric human skull from a musty museum in Dorchester. Then, thirty miles away, an archaeology student is murdered, increasing tension and suspicion at a dig that had already seethed with suspicion, rivalry, and mistrust. Could there be a connection between a hot bone and a cold‑blooded murder? Gideon is called on by the police to apply the unique skills for which the media have named him "the Skeleton Detective," and he reluctantly agrees. Before he is done, his sleuthing will lead him to another murder and will--in the most literal and terrifying manner imaginable--sic the dogs on him, putting Gideon himself, and Julie as well, in mortal danger . . . Murder in the Queen's Armes is a suspenseful, fun-filled whodunit by the author of the Alix London and Chris Norgren series--a celebrated master who "thoroughly understands the art of the murder mystery" (The Philadelphia Inquirer). Murder in the Queen's Armes is the 3rd book in the Gideon Oliver Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.  

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