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Gatekeeper: A Joe Gunther Mystery    by Archer Mayor order for
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2003 (2003)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

After Willy Kunkle's wild and wooly adventures in The Sniper's Wife (which I enjoyed very much), Archer Mayor brings us a dose of reality in Gatekeeper, consistent in style with the earlier books in his series, and once more starring Joe Gunther.

Drug related deaths bring pressure from the Governor for the Vermont Bureau of Investigation to take a lead role (Gunther prefers to support local law enforcement groups) in fighting the recent escalation of drug peddling in Vermont. Friends and family of VBI members are also affected. Laurie Davis, niece of Joe's significant other Gail Zigman, is shot while attempting a robbery to feed her drug habit. Driven by guilt, Gail looks into Laurie's life and, in the process, bad memories of her past rape surface. That and her niece's situation affect her 'like a tectonic shift', worrying Joe.

Detective Lester Spinney questions his parenting skills after discovering his teen son's involvement with a dangerous crowd. When the impulsive Sammie Marten jumps into an undercover role, re-inventing her Tucker Peak shady ski instructor persona of Greta Novak, Willy is not a happy camper but keeps an eye on her. Sammie (whose code name is 'Gatekeeper') enjoys living on the edge and is very good at it, but even she begins to wonder about 'the subtle corrosiveness of believing you could take on two separate personalities.'

Archer Mayor gives us another eminently rational procedural in Gatekeeper. He avoids an easy, trite ending and instead conveys what is probably the reality of police work, a very limited success that Gunther calls 'Mouse fart in a high wind.' It's a good read, which any Joe Gunther fan will enjoy, but I hope the author will also write more in the action-packed style of The Sniper's Wife.

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