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St. Albans Fire: A Joe Gunther Mystery    by Archer Mayor order for
St. Albans Fire
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2005 (2005)
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

In a quiet, peaceful, farming area of St. Alban, Vermont, teenager Bobby Cutts braves the cold night to visit the family's dairy barn. Sometimes, when he can't sleep, the barn provides a safe haven for mulling over unhappy thoughts. Unfortunately, Bobby doesn't get to resolve his problem. He encounters a bigger one.

Fire explodes from every side, so that Bobby and a herd of sixty dairy cows perish in the blazing inferno. Investigators arrive to look into what they feel is an accidental blaze. Barn fires are extremely volatile and burn with ferocity. But when it becomes apparent that other fires (accidents?) have occurred, the investigators turn their skills to discovering a possible motive.

St. Alban's Fire is intriguing with an off-the-wall climax. The characters' motivations are deeply examined, with almost psychological profiles that enrich the reader's attempts to solve the mystery. For the record, I was almost there, but still missed it by a mile. Good writing, an excellent plot, and believable players make St. Alban's Fire not to be missed.

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