Title: Trace (Joe Gunther Series #28) by Archer Mayor
Genre: Currently #95 on Amazon Author Rank for Kindle eBooks, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedurals
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: To be released September 26, 2017
Source: Minotaur Books (St. Martin’s Press) and NetGalley
Title and Cover: Trace – Cover reflects a piece of the plot
Oh man–not again?! Here I am reading #28 of the Joe Gunther series, Trace. When I accepted the book didn’t realize there were 27 others in the same series out there. But, no problem! It is very likely that the protagonist, Joe Gunther, has been very well fleshed out in prior units. In this novel, we get just a snippet of Joe, and even that much makes him a person of empathetic character. You can tell he’s a good man.
This entry showcases his three close team investigators of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI). Sammie Martens looks into the murder of a young woman recently of Albany, New York. Lester Spinney hooks into a three-year-old cold case, one involving one of their own, a state trooper in what looked to be a traffic stop. Willy Kunkle’s case starts with three teeth brought in from a railroad track (note the book cover), where an additional piece of equipment is discovered burned. The burned device meant for military installation suggests sabotage.
While Joe Gunther heads off to Missouri to take care of his seriously ill mother, his investigators head in opposite directions of Vermont to solve their individual cases. He coordinates with his brother Leo, who is most often the caretaker, but he and Joe work out this instance and Leo also becomes a sympathetic character of some depth.
Fortunately, the three cases are so different from each other that there is no problem following the progression of each one. As the investigations deepen, the three support protagonists are fleshed out. Each has their back stories, familial situations, and drive for their jobs–digging until another piece of their individual puzzles begin to form a picture.
The author has no problem separating each character’s manner of dialogue, which, in view of the specific individual, seems very natural. His descriptions of Vermont give a soft glimpse into a lesser-known state and provide scenes easily visualized.
Mr. Mayor is a forensic specialist, a death investigator for the office of Vermont’s Chief Medical Examiner. His meticulous details add depth to the investigations and explain tidbits of interest. His characters are real people, with problems of their own, but selflessly dedicated to solving their individual case files. For me, Willy was the most perplexing, but his family situation? Perfect! He can be a bull terrier, however, and once he latches on, he’ll likely solve the riddle–it’s a question of how (there’s always one, huh?)–and that might warrant looking the other way, just briefly.
Sammie Martins, working the murder of the young woman, exhibits feminine compassion to the family while carefully following procedures and collecting respect from connecting agencies.
Lester Spinney digs at his cold case when he discovers fingerprints that do not jive. What initially looked a slam-dunk case–shootout between traffic stop and cop, isn’t so transparent after all.
Mr. Mayor pulls all cases together in a satisfying climax of triumph, bringing Joe back for a congratulatory celebration with the three.
I was offered this ebook download from Minotaur Books/St. Martins Press and NetGalley for a read and review and greatly appreciated the opportunity. I can heartily recommend this book and more, the series, as a thoughtful, intelligent mystery thriller, police procedural.
Rosepoint Publishing: Four point five of Five Stars
The Author: Archer Mayor, author of the Vermont-based series with protagonist Lt. Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, Vermont PD, has been described by the Chicago Tribune as “the best police procedurals being written in America.” Trace, being released September 26, 2017 is the 28th in the Joe Gunther series begun in 1988. Mayor was recently honored with the 2016 Robert B. Parker Award. Prior to writing fiction, he wrote history books.
“Archer Mayor is a death investigator for Vermont’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a detective for the Windham County Sheriff’s Office…and he travels the Northeast giving speeches and conducting workshops. He has 25 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter/EMT.” In addition, Mayor has been employed “as a scholarly editor, a researcher for TIME-LIFE Books, a political advance-man, a theater photographer, a newspaper writer/editor, a lab technician for Paris-Match Magazine in Paris, France, and a medical illustrator.” ©2017 Virginia Williams