Top positive review
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Good story with outstanding character development!
on October 12, 2006
Archer Mayor's Second Mouse starts not with a bang, but a whimper. But in this case, that's a good thing.
When a local woman is found dead in her home, a converted Vermont schoolhouse, the local authorities aren't even sure a crime has been committed. Called in because he's recently split with his longtime girlfriend--and one of the local cops wants to play matchmaker with the victim's best friend--Joe Gunther doesn't hit it off the with the friend, but the case intrigues him. Though there are no signs of foul play, Gunther can't help but feel that there's something not right about this death, no matter how natural the causes might seem.
Alongside the story of the mysterious death, Mayor also takes the reader into the sometimes bleak, often disturbing world of a trio of misfits whose story is gradually revealed to have more impact on what took place in that converted schoolhouse than first meets the eye. With endearing and refreshingly unusual secondary characters and a satisfying level of complexity, this finely crafted character study is a thoughtful and meticulously plotted look into the sometimes conflicting roles that friendship can play in the lives of both those who enforce the law, and those who break it.
There is a quiet melancholy to Mayor's prose that is at once hopeful and tragic. One feels the futility of these interwoven lives he portrays, but underlying the bleakness, there is comfort in knowing that good can survive even when faced with evil.
In the tradition of the best British police procedurals by John Harvey and Peter Robinson, Mayor's characters are not always right, and certainly not always likeable, but they are never dull. Joe Gunther is the rare police procedural hero who doesn't dominate the story, though with a quiet efficiency it is Gunther who keeps the story on track and who ultimately is the one who links all the divergent threads of the story together leading the reader toward the inevitable crescendo of a conclusion.
Armchair Interview says: Good story with outstanding character development.