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The Second Mouse: A Joe Gunther Mystery    by Archer Mayor order for
Second Mouse
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Mysterious Press, 2006 (2006)

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* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

A quote from my old friend Mr. Anonymous heralds the beginning of The Second Mouse: 'The early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.' Isn't that great? I love it.

And it fits the plot of this well-written mystery. Joe Gunther, an investigator for the state of Vermont, becomes enmeshed in the seemingly natural death of a woman a person grieving the demise of her live-in boyfriend. With the patience of the second mouse, Gunther waits and watches, ruminates, and delves into the backgrounds of anyone connected to the woman.

This tightly written mystery will have you guessing right up until the surprising ending. Or will you guess? The characters are finely honed and are typical, I would imagine, of any group of people who must work closely together a few hotheads, some leaning on sarcasm to get through their day, those who observe quietly, and others who never stop talking. We see a microcosm of humanity thrust together by their jobs and making it work.

The inside of the mechanics that control police work the part the public never sees becomes fascinating, making the reader feel he/she is behind the scenes of a play, watching what the audience never spies. Archer Mayor is no newcomer to the literary world, having written sixteen previous novels. He uses words as one familiar with their power. The Second Mouse is a good read.

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