Monday, February 9, 2015

Another Very Good Addition to Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther Series

Reviewed by James L. Thane
Four out of five stars

The twenty-fourth entry in Archer Mayor's series featuring Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation is among the best books in the series.

When Hurricane Irene blows through Vermont, it does millions of dollars worth of damage and causes enormous headaches for virtually all of the series' familiar cast of characters. Gunther's former love interest, Gail Zigman, is now the state's governor and has to deal with the mess and the political fallout that results. Gunther and his team must deal with a number of more specific issues.

As an example, the Vermont State Hospital is flooded and an elderly mental patient who has been confined there for years manages to escape. The woman, Carolyn Barber, is known as "The Governor" because forty years earlier, she was indeed the state's governor for a day as the result of a PR stunt that didn't turn out so well. Gunther and his team go looking for the woman but are unable to find any trace of her, save for a slipper that she lost while making her escape.

Meanwhile, the torrential rains have torn through a cemetery, exposing several coffins, one of which breaks open. The deceased who had been laid to rest in the coffin years earlier, turns out to be a pile of rocks, leaving Gunther's team to figure out what in the hell ever happened to the guy who was supposed to be in the coffin.

As if those weren't problems enough, a former state politician suddenly turns up dead at his very expensive retirement/nursing home. The doctor on the scene attributes the death to natural causes, but when Gunther learns that the former pol was connected to the missing "Governor for a Day," the coincidence seems just too great and he orders an autopsy and a full investigation.

From that point, the story proceeds along two tracks as the acerbic Willy Kunkle investigates the case of the missing body, which will turn out to have important ramifications for Willy himself. Meanwhile, the rest of the team tackles the case of the missing "Governor" and the death of the former politician. All in all, it's an interesting and entertaining read. By this point, for those who have followed this series for years, any new entry is like renewing old friendships and here, as is almost always the case, Archer Mayor never disappoints.

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