Bucolic Brattleboro, Vermont, is the setting for Archer Mayor's latest, Surrogate Thief. A present-day domestic violence case escalates into a shooting with unexpected ramifications: shells from the gun match bullets used in a murder some 30 years ago. The crime was never solved, in part because the investigating officer, Joe Gunther, was also dealing with the terminal illness of his beloved wife. Now Gunther works for the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, with a larger budget and sophisticated tools at his disposal, not to mention a burning desire for closure of the case that has nagged at the edges of his mind for the better part of his professional career. Strictly speaking, the new case is not in Gunther's jurisdiction, and the old case has long since been shelved; nonetheless, like the proverbial dog with a bone, Gunther determines to establish the connection between the two. Mayor displays an insider's knowledge of forensics, having been a faculty member at the Seminar on Forensic Sciences, as well as assistant medical examiner for the state of Vermont. His characters are well fleshed-out and multifaceted, and his narrative is thoughtful and refined. Did I mention that Mayor is also prolific? If my count is correct, Surrogate Thief is the 14th Joe Gunther novel in about as many years. Read one, and you'll want to devour the entire series.

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