Archer Mayor’s best selling series about Lt. Joe Gunther is set in a very different Vermont then is usually conjured up by tourist advertisements. This is the Vermont where houses are set far apart along such winding roads as Route 7; the Vermont where the local car repair shop and its reliability is more critical than the local government. People are few; families are valued and much depends on the weather.
One of Gunther’s biggest woes is the unreliability of cellphones in Vermont, something I experienced myself. He often comments on the effects of snow in softening the rocky landscape and then the less beautiful scenery in Bellows Falls and Brattleboro.
In “Chat” protagonist Gunther is faced with a possible tragedy in his own family with mysterious cause. At the same time, as the lead officer in the fictional Vermont Bureau of Investigation he is striving to solve the mystery of apparently unmarked and unidentified bodies turning up.
Mayor is known for the authenticity of details involving crime investigation and well drawn characters in his 22 book series and this the 18th is no exception.Details such as the fact that taser cartridges have ID numbers abound, not to mention details about tie-rods. Some of those details are a result of his varied career covering everything from writer to tour director to part-time EMT and police officer.
More than that, the details about the characters and their motivations are equally intriguing.Archer’s mother, confined to a wheelchair, is dealing with her own mortality as well as the possible loss of an adult son.Both sons are dealing with her end of life concerns. Gunther is in transit between relationships in this book making his personal life an additional issue.
A search for Archer Mayor’s website can produce a Joe Gunther bio on a drop down menu which I highly recommend for anyone jumping into the series midway. Equally interesting is Mayor’s autobiography found in the same website.
This was a perfect read with not one but three surprise endings. More of Joe Gunther is definitely on my reading list.