Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Archer Mayor and Joe Gunther: Books 3-5

Archer Mayor's later issue

First softcover
Archer Mayor reached a yearly rhythm with book 3 in the Joe Gunther investigations: SCENT OF EVIL (1992). I wish I had a copy here to show you the hardcover first edition art; it's hard to find now, and there is one due to arrive here later in the week. I'll post the two softcover versions, though: the first mass-market paperback (if you've visited the Latchis Hotel in Brattleboro, VT, you know where the idea for the artwork came from), and the lovely moody one Archer chose when he brought out the book again as his own publisher. In SCENT OF EVIL we met Detective Ron Klecszewski, who'll back Joe up in many more volumes to come; the book opens with a hand sticking out of a heap of dirt at a construction site.

The author's design choice
Book 4 is SKELETON'S KNEE (1993). The hardcover "firsts" of this one are even more scarce, so we're pleased to have one on the shelf, waiting for Archer Mayor's Oct. 15 visit here, to add an author signature. I remember the excitement of reading this when it first was published: The Vermont police investigator takes off for Chicago to learn about gangland killings, thanks to a set of leads developed by medical examiner Dr. Beverly Hillstrom and her team. (I also remember the day I learned that Hillstrom was based on Mayor's friendship and research with an actual Vermont ME, also a woman. More on that later.) Joe's investigating partner J. P. Tyler has a strong role in the story.

Hardcover first edition
First softcover

Hardcover, and first softcover
Archer Mayor's design choice
With book 5, FRUITS OF THE POISONOUS TREE (1994), the design route from the paperback covers migrates to the hardcovers. And this is the gripping volume in which Joe's girlfriend Gail Zigman is raped, putting their relationship into grave danger as well. Willy Kunkle and Sammie Martens assist in investigating, and Joe's brother Leo is at hand when Joe himself is attacked. Especially worth re-reading, as it forms the base for much that will take place in Joe's personal life in the later books.

NOTE: Kingdom Books is excited to welcome Archer Mayor again for an introduction to his newest Joe Gunther book, TAG MAN, on Saturday Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. (questions, discussion, signing -- yes!). We're admittedly eccentric in our business model: If you want a signed copy of TAG MAN, it's a good idea to reserve it ahead of time. And if you're looking for any of the earlier titles, please get in touch with us -- we may only have a single copy of some titles. Thanks!

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