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Joe Gunther is the hero of Archer Mayor's long-running mystery novel series set largely in Brattleboro, Vermont. When the series begins, Gunther has already worked as a police officer for 30 years and is an experienced police lieutenant, eventually working for the Vermont State Police. He is a Korean War veteran and a widower.
The Joe Gunther mystery series includes 27 books.
- Open Season (1988) begins with a series of intricate crimes in which innocent people are framed. Gunther is forced, to the consternation of his fellow officers, to open up a three-year-old closed case in which a black man was convicted of the rape and murder of a young white girl. Gradually, evidence mounts that the convicted man is innocent, and unknown forces will stop at nothing to find the real criminal. An online review
- Borderlines (1990) begins with Gunther taking a working vacation in Vermont's rural Northeast Kingdom. But the town he's visiting has been divided since a back-to-nature cult group known as The Order bought up half the real estate. A cultists' house is burned and the family inside killed, setting off the townfolk's resentment and leading to more murders. Worse, the police suspect that one of Gunther's oldest friends is one of the killers.
- In Scent Of Evil (1991), the murder of a stockbroker is the opening crime in a series of elaborate frame-ups. Gunther again faces a killer who is a clever manipulator, working anonymous mayhem to settle old grudges.
- The Skeleton's Knee (1992) opens with the death from natural causes of a hermit with a very suspicious case history. The police discover a skeleton on his property with an artificial knee dating back to the '60s. Gunther goes to Chicago hoping to find the man who implanted the knee and encounters a sordid past involving stolen mob money, double crosses and a ruthless killer.
- In Fruits Of the Poisonous Tree (1993) Gunther's lover Gail is raped, and after a painstaking search and a dangerous manhunt, the district attorney and the police think they have found their man. Gunther's instincts, however, tell him that their suspect may be the victim of a frame-up. Going against the tide of popular opinion, he follows his gut and opens the case back up in the middle of the trial.
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