Paradise City: A Joe Gunther Novel is the latest in the series billed as featuring Joe Gunther, but is more and more about his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. Their latest case begins at what is left of a multimillion dollar home on Tucker Peak. Thanks to moneyed interests, local politics, and other factors, the local commander of the Vermont State Police wants no part of the case and gladly gives the case to the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. That means Joe Gunther and his eccentric team of Sammie, Willy, and Lester have the case.
A case that also will eventually prove to have links across state lines and result in murder, stolen goods, and more. It gradually becomes clear that the stolen goods are being funneled to a sophisticated and clever fencing operation in Northampton, Massachusetts. The fencing setup is “Paradise City” for some and deadly for others. The result is a complicated case with a couple of surprises in a read that shifts back and forth in point of view via all the characters--good and bad.
As part of that shifting in point of view, a secondary storyline involves Willy, Sammie, and their new baby Emma. Simplifying greatly, Willy’s world is no longer the button down controlled world with everything in its place that it used to be. Love, a relationship, and a new baby change things and loner Willy is having a tough time dealing with it. In the hands of a less talented author, this storyline would easily have been very clichéd, but Archer Mayor makes it work and work very well.
Paradise City: A Joe Gunther Novel is a much more positive novel than the last one Tag Man. While Willy and Sammie have their own angst, Joe has moved on a little bit forward past the most recent personal crisis and accompanying depression. These days, while he still has the pain of loss, he is back in the world and life again. Family in terms of friends through work remains a key part of this complicated series and is a theme constantly at work here. So too is a complex mystery that throws in a few twists along the way to make this good read really interesting.
Paradise City: A Joe Gunther Novel
Minotaur Books (St. Martins Publishing Group)
Hardback (also available as e-book)
Material was supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.
Kevin R. Tipple ©2012
Author of the e-book short story collection Mind Slices available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords in a variety of formats. Contributor to the Carpathian Shadows, Volume II anthology available in print and e-book