Joe Gunther Mystery, No 22
September 27, 2011 / ISBN: 0312681941
Police Procedure / Vermont / Contemporary
by L J Roberts
He sat in the center of the love seat, in the darkened bedroom,
settled against the soft pillows behind him.
set of Brattleboro, VT have experienced recent intrusions by someone
who circumvents their high-end security systems, raids their pantry
and fridge for fine food and leaves behind a Post-it which simply
says “TAG.” Not usually one to steal, the Tag Man was
so annoyed by the treatment by one victim toward his wife, Tag Man
did take some papers from the desk just to let the victim know Tag
Man had been there. At another house, he finds a hidden suitcase
containing graphic photos and clothes of, what appears to be, murder
victims. These discoveries leave the Tag Man is running for his
life from both the police and other villains.
By their 22nd
book, some authors start to lose the originality and sparkle to
which you were originally attracted. Definitely not true with Archer
Mayor. He knows how to take every element important to writing a
top-notch mystery and combines it into an original plot with fascinating
characters and excellent dialogue. But I’m getting ahead of
From the opening
sentence, Mayor creates, not just a strong sense of place, but the
mood of the scene. He also, throughout the story, knows how to convey
a sense of dread and suspense to the point where you find yourself
holding your breath waiting to see what will happen.
are very well drawn and real. New characters come to life, characters
we’ve met briefly in the past are seamlessly incorporated
again, and the central characters are introduced to new readers
with just enough of their history so that you know who they are
and where they are in their lives, even if this is the first book
by Mayor you’ve read. At the same time, the central characters
are not at all stagnant through the series, or even this book; they
grow, develop and change as a result of events in each plot.
They are people
you want to know.
The plot is
so well done even for all its slight quirkiness. It’s always
odd to find one self-cheering for one of the supposed villains,
but there are enough real villains to hiss at as well.
Mayor is one
of my favorite types of authors. In the approximately 300 pages,
he created a story I didn’t want to stop reading one I’d
started. “The Tag Man” is filled with great characters,
excellent dialogue, great suspense scenes, and a satisfying, if
somewhat unusual ending leading us to a future book but without
being a traditional cliffhanger.
It was wonderful
to see this book be the first of the series to reach the New York
Times Best Seller List. What I can’t understand is why not
all of his books have. Well done, Mr. Mayor.