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Chat    by Archer Mayor order for
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Grand Central, 2007 (2007)

Read an Excerpt

* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

It's today's world in the small state of Vermont. Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation suspects that the wrecked car in which his mother and brother were riding was sabotaged, rather than skidding on an icy patch. At the same time, corpses are appearing with questionable causes of death. While Joe investigates, with the help of his team, he manages to fit in a new person who might become an important part of his life.

Scattered throughout the book are pages filled with text messaging from chat rooms. Young girls, playing a dangerous game, answer messages from someone they don't know. There's a lesson here for parents to monitor their kids' computer time. But Chat is more than a warning. It is a well-written story by an accomplished author who has many excellent books to his credit.

It's a tight plot. Suspense reigns. Characters are finely drawn, including one or two you'd like to give a quick boot in the seat of the pants. Could the accident that almost killed what remains of Joe's family be connected in any way to the dead men? What part did the local bad boy play in any of this? Why did the bad boy's brother commit suicide? There are many unanswered questions.

The backdrop of the state of Vermont is a beguiling one. I've driven through that state (my granddaughter went to college there) and Archer Mayor's words carried me there again. A fond journey. But more than that, I could easily envision his descriptions of Vermont's roads and mountains. The small town where Joe lives - with its news grapevine traveling faster than any modern communication - could be Anytown, USA.

Men dead of suspicious circumstances, instant messaging, an almost deadly car wreck, and a man with a drive for revenge. What more could one ask? Chat is a fine read.

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