November 30, 2010

BOOKS: Red Herring, Archer Mayor (2010)

21st in the series about Vermont policeman Joe Gunther.

Joe heads the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, which gets called in to work on cases that are bigger or more complicated than the state's local police departments can handle. This time around, we have a series of deaths, none of which appear (at first) to be straightforward murder -- a hanging, a rape, a DUI. The victims don't appear to be connected, but there's a strange common element to the three cases; a large drop of blood (not the victim's) is found at each otherwise clean crime scene, suggesting that these crimes have been staged, and that a serial killer is at work.

Mayor does a little bit of plot tap-dancing to allow his detectives access to more high-tech forensic investigative tools than they would normally have, giving this volume something of a CSI: Vermont flavor, but there's still plenty of the routine police work that his cops traditionally specialize in, and the forensics doesn't overwhelm the story.

I've always enjoyed this series, and Red Herring is a particularly entertaining installment. The killer and motive are interesting; the mix of routine interviews and modern tools works well; and Mayor throws in a plot twist at the end that will surely have interesting ramifications in the next volume.

No comments: