The Dark Place (Gideon Oliver Mystery, #2)

The Dark PlaceThe Dark Place
by Aaron Elkins
Rating: ★★★★
isbn: 0802755658
Series: Gideon Oliver #2
Publication Date: January 1, 1983
Pages: 200
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Publisher: Walker Publications

Deep in the primeval rainforest of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula, the skeletal remains of a murdered man are discovered. And a strange, unsettling tale begins to unfold, for forensic anthropologist Gideon Oliver determines that the murder weapon was a primitive bone spear of a type not seen for the last ten thousand years. And whoever—or whatever—hurled it did so with seemingly superhuman force. Bigfoot “sightings” immediately crop up, but Gideon is not buying them.

But something is continuing to kill people, and Gideon, helped by forest ranger Julie Tendler and FBI special agent John Lau, plunges into the dark heart of an unexplored wilderness to uncover the bizarre, astonishing explanation.


I’ve only read one other Gideon Oliver book, and it’s a much later entry in the series (Skullduggery), which I enjoyed.  I wanted to start at the beginning but after a lot of research, everyone who has ever read the first book says it’s not worth reading it, so I’m jumping in at #2.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I didn’t really read it with any particular HB square in mind.  This was a really good story, and not at all the kind of story I expected.  What starts off with 3 disappearances in the rainforest of Washington State leads to dead bodies, an unknown Amerind burial ground, and, for the first 60 pages, Bigfoot is a contender!  So much fun!

The reality, as the story progresses, is much, much more interesting than Bigfoot (no offence meant), and this mystery becomes the most anthropological anthropology-mystery I’ve ever read.  It’s short – 200 pages – but concise and fast paced.  Little is wasted on descriptive filler, although I’d have liked for the sex scenes not to have made the final edits.  I’m fine with sex scenes in general, but in a cozy, written by a man, well, for some reason it just sort of squicked me out.  But they really were the only unnecessary scenes and were pretty PG, for all I’m complaining about them.

Without giving anything away, it was just a really solid, well-written, mystery, with great characters and an even better setting.

I read this for Halloween Bingo 2022 and beyond the obvious Genre: Mystery square it also fits Amateur Sleuth, Cozy Mystery, Dem Bones, In the Dark, Dark Woods, Monsters, and The Barrens.

I’m going to use it for Monsters because, Bigfoot!  🙂

3 thoughts on “The Dark Place (Gideon Oliver Mystery, #2)”

  1. As I recall, the sex scenes die off pretty quickly (maybe one or two more books). Am with you, there’s something…ick…about the ones Elkins writes.

    (I actually like book 1 better than this one, but that might just be me. )

    1. Really? I have book 1 (for the completist in me) but you’re the only one that has indicated you’ve liked it. I was told it was more of a spy/thriller than a mystery?

      1. yeah, I guess that’s a good way to describe it–but as it’s Dr. Oliver, it’s an amateur-dragged-into-a-spy thriller. But he does get to do his forensic-anthropology thing. (My first encounter with the book was in the late 80s, I might have had a different opinion of it had I come along later)

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