cover image The Disposable Man

The Disposable Man

Archer Mayor. Mysterious Press, $21.5 (294pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-685-1

Mayor writes so well about his native Vermont and the highs and lows of police work that even an outlandish plot straight from an old James Bond story doesn't spoil the pleasures of his latest (after Bellows Falls, 1997; The Ragman's Memory, 1996) Joe Gunther mystery. ""Vermont at night has always made me think of the eighteenth century, when its few inhabitants surrendered the darkened fields and forests to the mysterious elements that helped fuel Indian folklore on one side, and settlers' fears on the other,"" Brattleboro's chief of detectives thinks as he drives home one evening. Later, of the state's bleak Northeast Kingdom, Gunther muses, ""Poorer, colder, and less inhabited than the rest of Vermont, it remained the most stalwart reminder of the ice age's grinding havoc."" Moments like these, plus poignant visits to a couple of under-touristed memorials (to law-enforcement officers and Korean War veterans) ground the flight of a story that begins with the discovery of the body of a garrotted old Russian and ends with a shoot-out between rival Russian gangs--orchestrated by the CIA--involving some space-age technology. Mayor has linked Gunther's Vermont with the rest of the world's problems before; this story is a farther stretch but no less pleasurable for the reach. (Nov.)