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Presumption of Guilt: A Joe Gunther Novel    by Archer Mayor Amazon.com order for
Presumption of Guilt
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Readers know what they will find when they open a Joe Gunther novel by Archer Mayor - a thoroughly rational and enjoyable police procedural run by sensible and likable investigators with the beautiful backdrop of the state of Vermont. Which explains why the series is so popular. Presumption of Guilt (following The Company She Kept) is its twenty-seventh episode.

As always, sharing the limelight with Joe are prickly, one-armed Willy Kunkle and his more balanced, tough partner, Sammie Martens. They both go off the reservation this time around, something unusual for Sammie - perhaps Willy's style is infectious. Joe is still very contentedly involved with medical examiner Beverly Hillstrom. And this time we see more of VBI investigator Lester Spinney and his family, a welcome development.

In 1970, a fire interrupts concrete pouring at a nuclear plant project in Vernon, Vermont. Fast forward forty years when the plant is being decommissioned and another construction worker notices a gold ring on a human hand in the wreckage of the concrete slab he's taking apart. Enter Joe Gunther and his VBI team to dig into a pretty cold case.

Their first challenge is to identify Concrete Man. His family is surprised by the revelation of his murder, having assumed that Hank had deserted them when he disappeared. Trouble escalates after the body is found. Lester Spinney's son David (a sheriff's deputy) is kidnapped and threatened - a warning to the VBI? People who knew Hank start to die. And mobsters get in on the action, trying to keep past money laundering under wraps.

Dan Kravitz, burglar extraordinaire (and past informant to Willy) breaks into rich people's homes, simply to observe what's there. He's mentoring his daughter Sally when Willy asks him to check out a suspect's home, which puts both of them in danger. Mayor ties all these plot threads together for a surprising conclusion. Definitely recommended!

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