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Archive for the ‘The Company She Kept’ Category

TheCompanySheKeptDoug Nielsen and his wife Margie were returning from their winter vacation when they pulled into a scenic overlook in Vermont. However, it wasn’t quite the scenery they imagined when looking up they saw a lifeless body dangling from the metal meshing that was designed to keep the mountain rocks from falling onto the interstate.

Gilbert, Joe Gunther’s cat, was asleep on Joe’s chest, and Joe himself was deep in thought when the phone rang. The first words he heard were “Susan’s dead”, uttered by a stricken Gail Zigman, his former romantic partner and now governor of Vermont. The Susan in question is Susan Raffner, Vermont state senator and Gail’s political advisor, close friend and sidekick. When Joe, as a leader in the Vermont Bureau of Investigation gets a call from the Governor to head up the investigation, he has no choice but to comply regardless of what their past relationship might have been.

It’s old home week for us Joe Gunther fans as he gathers the normal VBI team of Sammie Martens, Willie Kunkle, Lester Spinney and chief medical examiner (and Joe’s current girl friend) Beverly Hillstrom, along with various other law enforcement officers. The problem is that, regardless of all the high tech equipment and analysis, the investigation (which is high profile) is dead in the tracks (pun intended) pretty soon. So Joe gets the idea of having the team plod through all the analysis, interviews and paper, with the exception of Willy Kunkle, a loner by nature, to whom he basically gives carte blanche…as long as he stays under the radar.

As all Joe Gunther mysteries, The Company She Kept has twists and turns. I did not guess the end…but I don’t typically. The characters have developed personalities over the years that readers can count on, and they don’t fail us in this endeavor. I like series in which the characters age and develop and you see that clearly in this book. Willie, always  the rebel and outsider, is softening with the birth of his daughter. Joe has moved on from his first wife’s untimely death from cancer and his break up with Gail. Gail has progressed from real estate agent to gadfly to a politically savvy governor.

There’s not a lot of action in The Company She Kept. It’s enough to satisfy but not overload. There’s not a lot of forensic analysis either. Mayor has produced a more rambling, move slowly type of story. But that’s OK. In an Archer Mayor book it’s the characters that carry the story, not necessarily to murder.

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