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Trace: A Joe Gunther Novel    by Archer Mayor order for
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Joe Gunther spends most of his time offstage in Archer Mayor's latest (the twenty-eighth in the series!) Trace. Joe's mother needs support, and his brother Leo has already taken on the lion's share of her care. So Joe accompanies her to a distant, well regarded hospital, leaving Sammie Martens in charge of his team, which of course includes the father of her child, the ever prickly Willy Kunkle.

It all begins with young Jayla fleeing an abusive, controlling relationship with older, well connected Jared in Albany. She ends up in Burlington, rooming with medical examiner Beverly Hillstrom's daughter Rachel, whom series fans got to know and like in Proof Positive. Beverley remains Joe's serious romantic interest. Unknowingly, Jayla takes something with her that Jared wants back, and he has the means to find her.

In Joe's absence, his investigators take on three different cases. Sammie digs into a murder, and gets sage advice from Beverley along the way. Steady Lester Spinney re-opens a two years cold case, in which it was believed that a motorist and state trooper shot each other. New evidence implies otherwise. And Willy, who enjoys offbeat cases, gets the oddest one of the trio - three teeth found on a railroad track, along with a burned mil-spec battery, the kind used in drones.

Reading Trace is a bit like taking in three inter-linked short stories, each interesting in its own right. Add to that the enjoyment of Vermont scenery and the pleasure found in spending time with these well-liked characters, and this police procedural is another winner for Archer Mayor.

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