cover image The Marble Mask

The Marble Mask

Archer Mayor. Mysterious Press, $23.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-89296-723-0

A new appointment for police detective Joe Gunther of Brattleboro as field commander of the newly formed Vermont Bureau of Investigation gives his 11th appearance (following Occam's Razor) broader scope in this fine procedural series. Designed to be ""a small, elite unit"" composed of the cream from Vermont's 68 separate law enforcement agencies, the VBI exists only on paper until the frozen body of a hiker is found on Mt. Mansfield. The ""hiker,"" Jean Deschamps of Sherbrooke, Quebec, turns out to be a very unusual homicide victim. His body appears to have been on ice--literally--since his murder in 1947. Gunther quickly assembles his first ad hoc team, which includes old colleagues Sammie Martens and Willy Kunkle, as well as newcomers Paul Spraiger and Tom Shanklin. And since Deschamps was Canadian, liaison with Canadian law enforcement is also necessary. Deschamps was head of a notorious crime family in Sherbrooke until his unexplained disappearance in 1947. His reappearance threatens to disrupt a fragile peace between that family, now headed by Deschamps's son, Marcel, and the Sherbrooke Hells Angels. Combining fieldwork (including a dangerous mountainside search) and dogged digging, the team delves into ancient rivalries and murders with roots going back to WWII, but threatening to erupt into fresh violence. This is a thoroughly entertaining police procedural--imaginatively conceived and executed with the polish Mayor has honed over the life of the series. (Oct.)