January 19, 2012

BOOKS: Tag Man, Archer Mayor (2011)

22nd in Mayor's series of police procedurals about Joe Gunther and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation.

The finer homes of Brattleboro are being burglarized. The burglar isn't particularly menacing, as burglars go; he does no property damage, and there's nothing stolen except a few bites of the priciest food in the fridge. His signature is the Post-It note he leaves on his victims' bedside tables: "Tag! You're It," for which the local press has dubbed him the Tag Man.

Relatively harmless the Tag Man may be, but still, burglary is burglary, and the members of the Brattleboro Police Department would like to track him down. And when he stumbles into evidence of the more serious crimes committed by some of the wealthy folks he visits, the police may be the least of the Tag Man's problems.

Gunther and his colleagues are marvelous characters; the ongoing stories of their lives will have more resonance for those who've followed the series from the beginning, but Mayor skillfully lays in the background details so that the novice can follow those parts of the story. The crime story is, as usual, top-notch, and the multiple strands of the story are carefully woven together for a terrific climax. Mayor continues to be one of our best (and most underrated) writers of police thrillers.

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