Saturday, December 23, 2017

Joe Gunther and the VBI Must Unravel the Mystery Surrounding a Forty-Year-Old Skeleton

This is another solid entry in Archer Mayor's series featuring Joe Gunther, the head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. Twenty-seven books into the series, the formula and the cast of characters are very well set, but the formula remains strong and the characters are still uniformly interesting, even though by now, long-time readers of the series know these people almost as well as members of their own families.

As the story opens, a Vermont nuclear power plant is being decommissioned forty years after its construction in the mid-1970s. Workers are jackhammering the concrete floor of a warehouse that was part of the complex when they discover a skeleton encased in the concrete. It's readily apparent that the victim was murdered and the job of investigating the death naturally falls to the VBI. 

Gunther and his team are able to identify the body fairly quickly as that of Hank Mitchell, one of the principal figures in a roofing company that was working on the nuclear site. There were problems in Mitchell's marriage, and his family and friends had long assumed that he had simply abandoned his old life and moved on to greener pastures. They are shocked to discover that he has been dead all this time.

Gunther and the other investigators begin digging back into Mitchell's life in an effort to discover who might have wanted him dead, but then this old, cold case heats up dramatically when someone who had been close to Mitchell is murdered days after the discovery of the skeleton. It quickly becomes apparent that the discovery of Mitchell's body has set off a chain reaction of events and has brought back to the surface secrets that many people thought had been buried with Mitchell forty years earlier. The only question now is whether Joe Gunther can contain the fallout and get to the bottom of this long-simmering mystery.

I've long been a fan of this series and enjoyed this entry a lot. I assume that it will appeal to lots of others who have been following the series, but I would strongly advise anyone interested and new to the series to start at the beginning with Open Season. Part of the joy of following this series is watching the evolution of the characters, and beginning with this book would be the wrong move in that respect.

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