Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Archer Mayor, THE PRICE OF MALICE: A must-have Joe Gunther Police Procedural

The twentieth Joe Gunther crime novel slipped quietly into the spotlight yesterday, as Minotaur Books released THE PRICE OF MALICE a few days before its scheduled "October" debut. Hurrah! This is the one we've been waiting for -- not just because it's number 20 in the series, not just because once you get acquainted with Joe and his team you've got to get the next book, and not just because it's a good swift read. Here's the best part: THE PRICE OF MALICE builds on number 19, THE CATCH, and spins intensity and sense out of the situations that Archer Mayor set up in that Maine-oriented story.

It will come as no surprise to Gunther fans that Joe is having trouble with his intimate relationship again, as THE PRICE OF MALICE opens. His mellow and promising times with barkeeper Lyn Silva sailed onto nasty rocks during THE CATCH, as Joe's drug and murder investigations led him to exhuming part of Lyn's family history. Discouraged and distanced, Lyn's left Brattleboro without telling Joe. It makes a tough platform for this Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI) chief -- how can you trust yourself and your judgment, when the people you most care about keep walking out of your life?

The opening chapter steps inside another relationship, one that's kept Joe and his readers intrigued: the offbeat but pretty successful domestic partnership of foul-mouthed and stubborn Willy Kunkle and hard-working Sammie Martens, the lone woman on Joe's team. You can see what ties them together when the mention of "homicide" in a middle-of-the-night phone call cheers them both and sends them scrambling for their clothes. And the discovery that the victim is a suspected child predator makes them more satisfied, as it suits their sense of justice. The trouble is, they're also determined to catch the murderer, even if he or she had a darned good reason for turning to crime.

When Joe's efforts to steer his team are repeatedly interrupted by a lingering drugs and border manipulation and his girlfriend starts taking risks that involve him, the VBI chief lets down his team by being in all the wrong places at the moments when their complex hunt turns dangerous. Archer Mayor spins the scenes sharply and intensely, and keeps both Joe and the action on the run.

If you like THE CATCH, you'll love what this sequel does with what you absorbed from that one -- and if you weren't sure you wanted to adapt to Joe Gunther pursuing criminals off the coast of Maine, THE PRICE OF MALICE will convince you that the wider pattern adds up to quite a tale.

Check for author events; Mayor will be racing around for this one!

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