The Marble Mask) is the best yet, filled with his usual strong characters,"/>

TUCKER PEAK: A Joe Gunther Mystery

Archer Mayor, Author . Mysterious $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-89296-724-7

The 12th book in Mayor's series featuring Vermont cop Joe Gunther (after 2000's The Marble Mask) is the best yet, filled with his usual strong characters, evocative settings, well-researched backgrounds and polished writing. Now the agent-in-charge in Brattleboro for the newly formed (and fictitious) Vermont Bureau of Investigation, Gunther looks into a string of condo burglaries at Tucker Peak, a local ski resort. In tracing a stolen watch to Marty Gagnon, an elusive small-time thief, Gunther's detectives discover someone else is looking for Gagnon, too, threatening and killing his friends. To find the connection between Gagnon and troubled Tucker Peak, Gunther and VBI detective Sammie Martens go undercover. The owners are seeking investors for upgrading and expansion, while an environmental group, Tucker Protection League, is protesting their operations (and suspected of sabotaging ski equipment). Gunther and his "inside man," ski instructor Richie Lane, find themselves in danger because of something or someone they saw, as hints of financial mishandling within TPL surface. The book's beauty lies in how smoothly Mayor incorporates these disparate elements into a coherent and suspenseful plot, with some of the strands winding back around each other. And the longtime relationship between Gunther and his lover, Gail Zigman—and the unlikely affair between Sammie and her misanthropic colleague, Willie Kunkle—reach firmer ground. Often labeled a "regional" writer, Mayor, with his intelligent plots, wit, relaxed style and understanding of human relationships, deserves wider recognition. (Nov. 12)

Forecast:Print advertising in major media, an author tour to New York and Washington, D.C., and New England publicity could help make this Mayor's breakout book.

Reviewed on: 10/15/2001
Release date: 11/01/2001
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