cover image St. Albans Fire: A Joe Gunther Mystery

St. Albans Fire: A Joe Gunther Mystery

Archer Mayor, . . Mysterious, $24.95 (310pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-816-9

Deaths and barn burnings north of Burlington, Vt., that result in farm sales to two local real estate agents lead Joe Gunther into a convoluted case in Mayor's entertaining 16th novel to feature the Vermont Bureau of Investigation cop (after 2004's The Surrogate Thief ). Are the crimes personal or financial, coincidental or planned? Gunther and his obstreperous sidekick, Willy Kunkle, travel to Newark, N.J., in search of answers and an arsonist. When the Jersey police are first helpful then dismissive, the pair decide to investigate on their own, turning up some surprising evidence in Newark's underworld. Mayor delves deeper than ever before into his characters' psychology, especially the women: tough Newark cop Lil Farber; Peggy DeAngelis, the arsonist's naïve girlfriend; and two dispirited farm wives, beautiful Linda Cutts and her vicious mother, Marie. He also subtly portrays the shifting relationship between Gunther and his lover, Gail Zigman. Though the discoveries in Newark fall into place almost too easily, Mayor serves up another highly satisfying mystery. Agent, Molly Friedrich at the Aaron Priest Agency. (Oct.)