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The Surrogate Thief    by Archer Mayor order for
Surrogate Thief
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Archer Mayor delivers his usual thorough police procedural in The Surrogate Thief, in which Joe Gunther re-opens a cold case in Brattleboro, Vermont. The VBI field force commander patiently and painstakingly assembles clues, while coping with painful memories and the current absence from his life of the love of said life, Gail, who is running for state senate. It's a story of 'watershed events' in people's lives and the choices they make.

The gun involved in a domestic disturbance shooting turns out to be the same weapon used when a grouchy old Brattleboro shopkeeper was beaten to death and robbed of his life savings over thirty years before. It was Gunther's case as a 'fresh-faced' patrolman, and he always felt that his preoccupation with his beloved wife's losing battle with breast cancer prevented him from giving it the attention it needed. As Joe steadily tracks down individuals involved in the cold case, a murderer shadows him and bodies pile up around the state and in Massachusetts. It's solid, careful police work and forensics that finally wins justice for the victims, and closure for a stressed Gunther.

Though I always enjoy spending time with Mayor's rational hero, I like his sidekicks even more and wish that tough Sammie Martens and crochety Willy Kunkle ('a boss's nightmare') had had a stronger role in this episode; we can only hope they'll be more center stage in the next one.

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