Archer Mayor’s long-running series with Vermont Bureau of Investigator Joe Gunther continues with the 28th installment in Trace.

This one has Gunther off scene for much of the action. He’s invovled in taking his mother to a special Missouri clinic for a scary case of Lyme Disease. So it’s left to the members of his team to sort out the latest cases.

Willy Kunkel’s case starts when a child finds three teeth–just those bloodstained teeth–on a railroad track. The team member most likely to work outside the box finds Homeland Security involved in that one, after a device destined for a military installation is discovered. This is where his rule-bending will prove necessary.

Lester Spinney, the by-the-book investigator is asked to take on a cold case of a hero state trooper, a supposed traffic stop gone bad, which may not be all it seems when new evidence skews the original investigation. He will need all of his patience and determination to figure this one out.

And Sammie Martens, the reasonable one, will need all of her usual resourcefulness to solve the case of a dead woman, by all acounts an lovely young woman, who happens to be the roommate of the daughter of the medical examiner, said ME being Gunther’s girlfriend. What was she running from?

Gunther’s absence, while being felt, allows readers to get closer to the team while the suspense rises for each detective.

This Vermont countryside comes alive under Mayor’s talented pen, as do his team and even the moments of Gunther in his mother’s rehab. The whole book glistens with reality: of the setting, of the characters and their private lives, and of the way they interact together. There are forensic details, too, of interest, but the details that hold the story together involve Gunther’s team and how they are changed by the end of the book.

A great addition to a fine series.

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