When the frozen body of a murder victim--a smuggler from Quebec and the patriarch of a powerful crime syndicate--turns up on a Vermont mountain, Lieutenant Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation uncovers links to a priceless mask sculpted by Michelangelo that mysteriously vanished during the World War II Italian campaign. 20,000 first printing.
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Joe Gunther, a Brattleboro, Vermont, cop, is the head of the new Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI), a joint task force charged with statewide responsibility for major crimes. In The Marble Mask, the VBI's first case takes the force north to Stowe, where a 50-year-old corpse has turned up in a crevasse on Mt. Mansfield. Some of the more interesting minor characters in author Archer Mayor's long-running series about the amiable elder sleuth make return appearances here as Joe's teammates--like one-armed Willy, a former wife-beater who's now playing footsie with Sammie Martens, one of Joe's favorite colleagues. When the frozen stiff turns out to be a (formerly) big-time Canadian crime boss named Jean Deschamps, who disappeared after World War II, Joe and his gang cross the border to work with the Mounties, the Sûreté, and the local cops in Sherbrooke, where Deschamps's son Marcel is involved in a turf war with the Hell's Angels and a rival gang of thugs. Old secrets and intrigues come to light while an intricate plan to frame a dying man for a crime half a century old forms an interesting puzzle that's not fully revealed until the last couple of pages.
Mayor excels at painting a picture of a time and place that's as authentic as maple syrup, and in Joe he's created a Cooperesque character who's almost as enigmatic as the mist-shrouded mountains of his beloved state. Skiers who've schussed down Stowe's fabled slopes will enjoy Mayor's recreation of the town in its bygone era as well as the description of its renaissance as a major tourist attraction today. Joe doesn't change much from book to book, but that's fine with Mayor's fans. He's a good cop, a quiet hero, a reliable guy, and his 11th appearance in this tightly woven mystery is cause for cheer. --Jane AdamsAbout the Author:
Archer Mayor is the author of the highly acclaimed Vermont-based series featuring detective Joe Gunther, which the Chicago Tribune describes as “the best police procedurals being written in America.” He is a past winner of the New England Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Fiction―the first time a writer of crime literature has been so honored. In 2011, Mayor’s 22nd Joe Gunther novel, TAG MAN, earned a place on The New York Times bestseller list for hardback fiction.
Before turning his hand to fiction, Mayor wrote history books, the most notable of which, Southern Timberman: The Legacy of William Buchanan, concerned the lumber and oil business in Louisiana from the 1870s to the 1970s. This book was published in 1988 and very well received; it was republished as a trade paperback in 2009.
Archer Mayor is a death investigator for Vermont’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a detective for the Windham County Sheriff’s Office, the publisher of his own backlist, a travel writer for AAA, and he travels the Northeast giving speeches and conducting workshops. He has 25 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. Mayor was brought up in the US, Canada and France and had been employed as a scholarly editor, a researcher for TIME-LIFE Books, a political advance-man, a theater photographer, a newspaper writer/editor, a lab technician for Paris-Match Magazine in Paris, France, and a medical illustrator. In addition to writing novels and occasional articles, Mayor gives talks and workshops all around the country, including the Bread Loaf Young Writers conference in Middlebury, Vermont, and the Colby College seminar on forensic sciences in Waterville, Maine.
Mayor’s critically-acclaimed series of police novels feature Lt. Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, Vermont, police department. The books, which have been appearing about once a year since 1988, have been published in five languages (if you count British), and routinely gather high praise from such sources as The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Yorker, and others, often appearing on their “ten best” yearly lists.
Whereas many writers base their books only on interviews and scholarly research, Mayor’s novels are based on actual experience in the field. The result adds a depth, detail and veracity to his characters and their tribulations that has led The New York Times to call him “the boss man on procedures”.
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