this is the 194th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
Twenty Blue Devils by Aaron Elkins, Mysterious Press, 1997, paperback, mystery – Gideon Oliver
I’ve read several other of Elkin’s mysteries featuring Gideon Oliver, the “skeleton detective” and have enjoyed them all so I expected this one to be an easy and enjoyable read, and I wasn’t disappointed.
It’s about a family-owned coffee business in Tahiti, the company produces the very high-end Blue Devil coffee as well as the less expensive Breakfast Blend. There have been some accidents at the small plantation, twice injuring one of the family who is the plantation manager. When he is later found dead after an accident during a camping trip, FBI agent John Lai, also a member of the family, isn’t the only one who wonders if it is really an accident or possibly murder. Oliver is asked to take a look at the skeletal evidence and thus begins a series of events leading to some surprising discoveries.
Elkins writes well and the characters are a typical family mix. There’s some coffee information as well. A nice light mystery in an interesting locale.
I remember the TV show but have never read the books (which I understand are very different) – is there a recommended place to jump in?
I read a bunch of these years ago – not sure if this was one of them but I think it was – but somewhere along the line I stopped reading them and never went back.
Sergio, this is a series that, like so many, is best begun at the beginning, The first three are Fellowship of Fear (1982), The Dark Place (1983) and Murder in the Queen’s Armes (1985). I didn’t watch the TV show as I’d heard it wasn’t very good, but the books are quite enjoyable.
Jeff, I did the same thing, then picked up a couple more used and read those, this being one of them. I’m still about seven or so behind and if I spot them at Powell’s or somewhere I’ll pick them up. I liked the Chris Norgren novels too, about art, but there were only three of those.
I’ve read the entire series, Richard. I’m a big fan of Aaron Elkins. But I’d say that the first couple of books are not typical of the rest of the series. The first one has a James Bond vibe to it that is very misleading. The rest of the books are basically whodunits with great settings and engaging characters. Nothing mind-blowing, but there’s much to be said for a good, comfortable mystery with a bit of humor and a soupcon of intriguing science thrown in for good measure. I also highly recommend LOOT, a standalone art mystery which Elkins wrote a few years ago. It is one of my all time favorite books. And speaking of art mysteries, Elkins also wrote a terrific short-lived series featuring art historian Chris Norgren which are worth looking for.
Thanks, Yvette. I mentioned the Norgren series in a comment above, which begins with Glancing Light, I believe. I’ll have to try LOOT.
I have several Aaron Elkins books. I’ll have to give them a try–from the beginning.
Light fare, George, might even say beach reading. But well done, and I like Gideon Oliver.
I read a couple of these awhile ago, and enjoyed them. Somehow I didn’t feel the desire to do the series. I also enjoyed the TV versions, altho I agree they had a different feel.