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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Last First Time by Andy Scheer

I'm a third of the way through a novel I yearn--and dread--to read.

I recently saw on Aaron Elkins's website that Dying on the Vine will be the final book in his Gideon Oliver series. I started reading them soon after he launched the career of the “skeleton detective” with Fellowship of Fear—back in 1982.

Long before Bones or the Bug Man, Elkins was using his background as a physical anthropologist to craft classic mysteries—with clues in the bones themselves pointing to the victim's identity and the cause of death.

After seventeen novels, Elkins has announced Oliver's retirement. He's had a good career. I hope Elkins will continue to craft freestanding novels--or add to his other series. I know I'll re-read Dying on the Vine, just as I've re-read all the previous tales.

But I'll never have another chance to accompany one of Oliver's stories for the first time—unsure whether I've found a clue or been distracted by a red herring. As much as I'll enjoy a return trip, I'll never again experience the same anticipation.

I'm loving Dying on the Vine, set in and around a vineyard in Tuscany. But I'm already missing Dr. Oliver, his wife, Julie, and how Elkins conveys the flavor of exotic places with detailed descriptions of food and drink.

I know even successful series have to end. Jack Aubrey, Travis McGee, and Stuart Brannon have all taken their last ride. And Kinsey Millhone is approaching the end of the alphabet.

But I think it's better not to know, before reading, if a book is the end of the line.

3 comments:

Adam Blumer said...

Wonderful! A new-to me mystery author to check out. Thanks for the recommendation. I'm always looking for tips to find the really good fish in such a massive ocean. Please post about your other favorite books. This is so helpful.

Linda Glaz said...

This author sounds great. Why haven't I heard of him before? Kinsey Milhone started getting same old about halfway through the alphabet and I stopped reading. Same thing with (sorry, guys, but lots of us gals love-ed her) Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum. She got too predictable and some of us got tired of her never developing as a PI, just got dumber and dumber. But the first half of the ride was wonderful! Can't wait to read one of these. They sound great!

Aaron Elkins said...

Hello, Andy
Just came across your warm and welcome comments on Gideon Oliver. Thank you so much. Having Gideon compared to the splendid Jack Aubrey is a giant feather in his cap, and I very genuinely appreciate your taking the time and trouble to blog about him.
All best,
Aaron Elkins