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Book Review | The Price of Malice

Book Review | The Price of Malice
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Price of MaliceRead an excerpt: The Price of Malice

When Archer Mayor published his first murder mystery about Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, Vermont, police force, I wondered how long he could keep it up. There aren’t many murders in Vermont. I figured he’d have to start killing people in other states to keep Joe busy, and the books might lose their rooted charm. He did, and they did, sometimes. But The Price of Malice (St. Martin’s/Minotaur, $24.99), Mayor’s 20th, is firmly embedded in Brattleboro, with all its endearing quirks.

What I’ve always liked about Joe Gunther is his ordinariness. Now with the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, he’s getting old, and his personal life is messy, which creates interesting professional tensions in this yarn.

Joe spends a lot of time in Maine pulling his new girlfriend out of a jam, and when he does, the narrative sags a bit. The cops he works with there don’t have the personality of his usual prickly crew. But when he’s in Bratt, every sensory impression feels right, even if it’s the stink of a body found in a low-rent apartment with no air conditioning. That’s why The Price of Malice is Mayor’s best in a long time.

Tim Clark


Tim Clark


Tim Clark has been writing for Yankee Magazine and The Old Farmer's Almanac since 1975. Subjects of his many Yankee profiles have included filmmaker Ken Burns, historian Barbara Tuchman, pediatrician and political activist Dr. Benjamin Spock, and World War II General James Gavin. Tim left his job as Managing Editor in 1999 to teach English at ConVal High School in Peterborough, N.H. for 13 years, but since retiring from that demanding and rewarding profession in 2012, he has continued to contribute articles and book reviews. Tim lives in Dublin, N.H., two miles from the offices of Yankee Publishing, and serves as Town Moderator, a post previously occupied by Rob Sagendorph, the founder of Yankee Magazine.

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