Grand Central, Nov 2007, $24.95, 326 p.
Les Gunther and his mother are driving home after seeing a movie when all of a sudden the car isn’t operating the way it should; they crash leaving both of them badly injured. The next of kin Joe Gunther, a commander in the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, is notified and he passes a John Doe corpse case he is working on to his team while he returns home.
Before his brother lapses into a coma he says something was wrong with the car. When they discover what is wrong with the car, Joe is immediately suspicious because the vehicle was too new to have thrown a rod. When they find the cotton pin that held the rod in place they have probable cause to confiscate the computer at the Griffis Garage where the vehicle was serviced. The father E.T. and son Dan blame Joe for putting away the youngest brother Andy who was probably innocent and took the fall for Dan. If Dan was convicted of another crime he would have been put away for life under the state’s three strike rule. While in jail Andy was raped and when he gets out he committed suicide. Ironically there is nothing on the computer to implicate Dan with his crashing the vehicle but there are a series of chat logs connected to the case Joe was working on before his family emergency.
This regional mystery gives a vivid picture of the Vermont countryside and the colorful inhabitants who populate it. Joe’s love for his family is so real that readers expect to do what he can and more for them. The mystery is well plotted and has so many suspects besides the obvious avenging father and son team that readers will never guess who the killer is. Archie Mayor has written another great Vermont police procedural.