The Price of Malice
Archer Mayor
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Buy *The Price of Malice: A Joe Gunther Novel* by Archer Mayor online

The Price of Malice: A Joe Gunther Novel
Archer Mayor
St. Martin's Press
336 pages
September 2010
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Mayor writes a fast-moving thriller featuring Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation and his crack team of officers: Kunkle, Martens, Spinney and Klesczewski. The story begins with an exceptionally bloody crime scene, a man stabbed multiple times, his features nearly indistinguishable after a savage beating.

Converging on the murder scene - not the victimís apartment but someone elseís - the detectives face a complicated investigation and a series of suspects who have long relationships with the law. The Brattleboro victim, Wayne Castine, is far from a model citizen, with a bevy of enemies and a reputation for preying on the helpless.

Mayor makes his chops from the first chapter, with a plot that moves consistently forward and characters that contrast law enforcement with criminal activity. There is a real sense of cop-shop camaraderie sustained throughout the novel, a behind-the-scenes look into the workings of the agency and the kind of support needed for successful detective work and friendships that are forged in violence and lawlessness. For all their eccentricities, Guntherís team is solid.

Gunther is fortunate, because when quite another situation requires his attention, he can trust his officers to follow through while he monitors them from a distance. Gunther finds his relationship with Lyn Silva threatened when information surfaces about her father and brother, believed to have died in a fishing accident.

Suddenly Lyn is questioning everything she believed as a daughter; she is determined to get answers. In doing so, she finds herself in considerable danger. Gunther panics when he drives to join her and finds Lyn has vanished without a trace. Torn between his responsibilities in Vermont and pursuit of Lynís kidnapper in Maine, Gunther is sorely tested, depending on inter-agency cooperation to resolve Lynís predicament and not let his detectives down.

Mayor handles Guntherís bifurcated mission with a dexterity honed of experience, clearly comfortable with police procedures and the many levels of discreet investigation - from the offices of wealthy movers and shakers to fishing villages, where snitches report every movement of criminals in their midst, a network that keeps petty crooks out of jail and the bureau informed of recent activities. The result is expected but never predictable, Lyn rescued from danger and Castineís murderer revealed in a morass of family dysfunction. All in all, a satisfying tale where human passions run afoul of law and order.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2009

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