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UNNATURAL SELECTION by Aaron Elkins

UNNATURAL SELECTION

By Aaron Elkins

Pub Date: June 6th, 2006
ISBN: 0-425-21005-7
Publisher: Berkley

While his park-ranger wife Julie is wined and dined at a consortium on England’s Isles of Scilly, forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver (Where There’s a Will, 2005, etc.) plans to tag along out of the limelight. As if.

A cloud hangs over this year’s Consortium of the Scillies. Shortly after eccentric millionaire Vasily Kozlov brought a diverse group of researchers together two years ago, cordially disliked Edgar Villarreal, who’d pulled out of the group and relinquished $50,000 in funding after he was attacked for his outspoken defense of grizzly bears who killed humans, was eaten by a bear himself in the wilds of Alaska. And he’s not the only one haunting the returning members. Pete Williams, the provocative environmental biographer, dropped out of sight shortly after a heated confrontation with Villarreal. Even old-seeming bones offer no relief. While he’s touring the local Isles of Scilly Museum, Gideon sees a tibia whose characteristics he tells director Madeleine Goodfellow he can establish. His examination soon leads to the discovery of a lot of other bones and an accusation of murder. Which of Julie’s fellow Fellows—holistic ecologist Victor Waldo, hunting advocate Donald Pinckney, garbageologist Liz Petra or Gideon’s old friend Rudy Walker, an anthropologist-turned-snowmobile advocate—is the killer?

Though the Skeleton Detective seems more interested in the quick than the dead, the neat mystery is spiced by a great scene of Gideon excusing himself from an autopsy because he can’t deal with soft tissue.