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The Orphan's Guilt: A Joe Gunther Novel    by Archer Mayor order for
Orphan's Guilt
by Archer Mayor
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2020 (2020)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

The Orphan's Guilt follows Bomber's Moon as the thirty-first in Archer Mayor's ever popular Vermont police procedural series. It features Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI) associates, especially one-armed Willy Kunkle; his partner, Sammie Martens; and Joe's romantic interest, medical examiner Beverly Hillstrom. The author has recently added to stage center Beverly's journalist daughter Rachel Reiling and PI Sally Kravitz.

This episode begins with a cordial traffic stop that morphs into a cold case homicide investigation. John Rust is arrested for drunk driving, but goes missing soon afterwards. His lawyer hires Sally Kravitz to look into the recent death of Johnís younger brother Peter, whom John had cared for assiduously all his short, afflicted life. It is suspected that Peter's severe disability was the result of damage when he was an infant. The family was involved in a variety of criminal activities.

It takes careful, thorough investigation, not only by VBI detectives, but also by Sally and Rachel (who scents a big story) to get to the bottom of what happened so many years before, as violence erupts in the present day. Is John Rust a killer or has he also been killed? Where did the money come from that allowed him to support his brother as well as he did? Police, PI and journalist all zero in on a killer at the same time - and almost come to grief in so doing.

I'm a long-time fan of this very rational and well developed series. As much as the mysteries themselves, I appreciate insightful observations like Sally's of a senior's residence which was 'neither an imitation country club, where the residents seemed hell-bent on ignoring that they'd left the fast lane behind and treated all staffers like idiot domestics, nor a storage facility for penniless oldsters whose care was seen as a monstrous inconvenience to those responsible for keeping them alive.'

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