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The Marble Mask    by Archer Mayor order for
Marble Mask
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2000 (2000)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Joe Gunther is the operational head of the new Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI), 'Vermont's version of the Untouchables'. So far he's had nothing to do and the state police forces are less than enthusiastic about accepting VBI help. Suddenly the state governor announces that the VBI is handling a (very) cold case ... a 1940's frozen corpse discovered high on Mount Mansfield. Joe assembles a team including old cohorts Sammie Martens and the ever unpopular Willy Kunkle, whom Joe is still working to rehabilitate.

The corpse turns out to be a Québecois crime boss with close links to the Hell's Angels in Sherbrooke, Québec (this topic has been popular lately, also featured in Kathy Reichs' Deadly Décisions). Joe and team work with the Québec police headed by a mellow senior officer named Gilles Lacombe, and steadily uncover clues which point a little too easily to a patricide. Aside from Québec, much of the action takes place in Stowe, Vermont and the author ties in some intriguing history of the resort.

The Marble Mask is the 11th novel in this series and the first one that I have read. Joe Gunther is an eminently rational detective and a team player, working with colleagues who are much the same. Mayor sets an interesting puzzle for the reader and fills in its pieces one by one. My only disappointment was that the story is somewhat dispassionate, but if you like your heroes strong, silent and cerebral, try this tale.

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