Title: Presumption of Guilt by Archer MayorPublisher: Minotaur books 305 pp (Sept 2016) 

Genre: mystery, thriller, fiction, series, Joe Gunther. 4.5+ stars

Author: Archer Mayor is a bestselling author of the 27-book police procedural series featuring VPI detective Joe Gunther. After graduating from Yale he wrote historical non fiction. In addition to his writing, Mayor is a death investigator for Vermont’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and a longtime detective for the Windham County Sheriff’s Office. Mayor integrates his actual police experiences which adds depth, detail, and authenticity to his characters and provides rich multilayered plots. He won the New England Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Fiction–the first time a writer of crime literature was honored. He has also been cited for Excellence in the Arts by the State of Vermont. 

Story line: I have been a fan since the publication of his first novel, and yes, I have them all. In hardback. Living all over the world, each book gave me a fresh current look at home. There is always an excellent ensemble of characters, well loved with growth and scars. It helps to read these in order as each character has an extensive backstory. New faces and the next generation are intriguingly present here. I especially like the realistic, often witty dialogue, the relevant and timely well researched multilayered plots, with a lack of gratuitous sex or violence. Vermont is warmly depicted, Vermonters occasionally hilariously so. Every book is a solid, engaging page turner. I highlighted 50 quotes I wanted to share. It was a fast read, but also had an abrupt ending. I tried to turn the last page three times, expecting, wanting more. I loved Krunkle’s role and the return of TagMan. I’m glad some peace has found Joe.

Read on:

John Sandford Virgil Flowers series, Craig Johnson Walt Longmire series, Dick and Felix Francis, Kathy Reichs, Susan Hill


“Brattleboro? That’s a bar town, not a city. They should call it Dodge and have done with it. We’re going to Keene.”

You’re the flatlander. Bright lights’re like oxygen to you.”

And that meant not just “away,” as many Vermonters called the world beyond their borders.

“Can’t we rule it a suicide?” Willy asked now, looking down at the calcified finger with the ring, still trapped in place. Predictably, Lester laughed, Sam rolled her eyes, and Joe answered evenly, “Probably not, but I like the creative thinking.”

This is sounding like a modern Agatha Christie novel, although I doubt she would’ve used a nuclear reactor as a setting.”

Because to her, Dan Kravitz would forever be his own alter ego: not the menial everyman with an eerie ability to keep clean, but rather what the papers had coined “the Tag Man” a couple of years ago.

Didn’t they do that in a Columbo episode?”

In 1967 and ’68, homicides jumped from four a year to around twenty. The hippie counterculture, the Vietnam War protests, the interstate coming through, unemployment … The population jumped sixty thousand, because of urban flight, at the same time about twenty-five hundred farms went belly-up. This state was reeling, and I’m barely touching the surface.”

“The mere fact you just said so’ll make it happen, oh fearless leader,” Willy said resignedly. “That is the way it works.”

“You are a sweetheart. Never hesitate to call. If I’m in the middle of a gunfight or something, I’ll phone you right back.”

“It’s AA. It’s anonymous.” “It’s Vermont, stupid. There’re twelve people in the whole state. Everybody knows everybody else. Who else was there?

Received as an ARC ebook from Netgalley, as well as purchased hardcover.

Vermont Reading

I have been reveling in the Green Mountains of Vermont, in the glory of summer. And enjoying the a/c in the local libraries while we have heat wave after heat wave. At least my husband is home watering the plants!
So I thought it appropriate that I read some of the local authors, or work that was IN Vermont. Some interesting stuff from the last blog including:
Archer Mayor Price of Malice – this is the 19th?!! in a Vermont mystery series with Joe Gunther and his crew. I find them to accurately represent the state, although I try not to remember the murder, rape, drugs, mayhem that they deal with on a regular basis. This is such a beautiful state that I used to call home, would like to call home and am very glad to visit again! and often. Each mystery seems to get better, I do think they need to be read in order simply for the character development.
Rusty Dewees Scrawlins – I am a Dewees fan, always have been from the first moment I saw him in Judevine – a great Vermont play (wonderful book and poetry). He has been in a couple of other productions that I was lucky to see (Hydepark, Stowe and in Burlington) and I knew he was a friend of another friend of mine in Elmore. I had no idea all the other things that he has done in his life! This is a collection of his ‘essays’ / writings for a radio show that are simply stunning. Moving, intricate, funny, tragic, thoughtprovoking, sad, homespun while profound. A Vermont soul and a world human being. This was published a couple of years ago, but had not come across it. I need Vermont bookstores!
Images of America, Caledonia county VT – I love these historical books – mostly photographs of another era, any era that has photographs! I am not sure they have been done for all counties yet, but I found several that were great to flip through and absorb. Fascinating to compare with what i am seeing now, as I drive by, as I remember what it was like 30 years ago. Many changes, BUT, so much is the same. Thank heavens. Long may the mountains remain.

2010 Reading List

I am travelling for a period, and finally getting time to look through the diary, check the emails, look over the lists, sort out my paper life! As it happens, with the invention of the iphone and built in camera, I have used the camera to take snapshots of books I want to read. In the last week, in various bookstores (Vermont has 55 wonderful used bookstores, and LOTS of libraries which are having summer book sales – and yes I am shipping books home out of the luggage) I have photographed a number of books: the list looks like this:
Julie Orringer The Invisible bridge
Georgette Heyer Duplicate death
Where the wild things are
Tinkers Paul Harding
AMS Double Comfort Safari Club
J. Maarten Troost Lost on Planet China
Eva Rice The lost art of keeping secrets
John McPhee Giving good weight
Archer Mayor Price of Malice
Rusty Dewees Scrawlins
Images of America, Caledonia county VT
Marina Fiorato The Botticelli secret
Juliet Gael Romancing Miss Bronte
Tana French Faithful Place

Yes I have read a couple of these years ago, but revisiting is also fun, sometimes in a different format (dvd or audio). Sometimes it is the republication cover that attracts attention and reminds you what a wonderful book that was. Or reminds you of where you were when you read it.

That plus another list, means I have alot to catch up on! But I have actually read a few books lately, and listened to a couple more travelling the back roads of Vermont. I am typing this in the Stowe Public Library, where I was a patron 25 years ago. I read through their entire collection of books on tape (and it was cassette tape then!) during my commute to Burlington, or to Huntington (Camel’s Hump research site). This was where I learned to listen to children’s books on tapes and can still recite some of the wonderful lines by incredible voices (and people!). And here I listened to hours of poetry, especially Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, as well as radio programmes, that connected me again with my parents “the shadow knows!”. This is a wonderful library, and community, and state. Tomorrow I head to Montpelier for two of my favourite bookstores: Rivendell and Bear Pond Books. With a couple of PO mailing boxes in hand…. 😉