Archer Mayor is an American author best known for his detective novels featuring Joe Gunther, a Vermont-based police detective. Born on September 29, 1950, Mayor has produced multiple books in the series, which are notable for their meticulous detail and authentic portrayal of police procedures. This authenticity stems from the Mayor’s diverse background: he has worked as a firefighter, EMT, and, notably, a death investigator for Vermont’s Chief Medical Examiner.
His novels focus not just on crime but also on the broader societal and personal factors that might lead individuals to commit unlawful acts.
Mayor’s contribution to literature isn’t confined to the printed word. He has conducted writing workshops, actively participates in community events, and is involved in promoting reading, particularly among the youth.
Archer Mayor Books in Order
Joe Gunther Series
- Open Season (1988)
- Borderlines (1990)
- Scent of Evil (1992)
- The Skeleton’s Knee (1993)
- Fruits of the Poisonous Tree (1994)
- The Dark Root (1995)
- The Ragman’s Memory (1996)
- Bellows Falls (1997)
- The Disposable Man (1998)
- Occam’s Razor (1999)
- The Marble Mask (2000)
- Tucker Peak (2001)
- The Sniper’s Wife (2002)
- Gatekeeper (2003)
- The Surrogate Thief (2004)
- St. Albans Fire (2005)
- The Second Mouse (2006)
- Chat (2007)
- The Catch (2008)
- The Price of Malice (2009)
- Red Herring (2010)
- Tag Man (2011)
- Paradise City (2012)
- Three Can Keep a Secret (2013)
- Proof Positive (2014)
- The Company She Kept (2015)
- Presumption of Guilt (2016)
- Trace (2017)
- Bury the Lead (2018)
- Crosscut: A Joe Gunther Short Story (2019)
- Bomber’s Moon (2019)
- The Orphan’s Guilt (2020)
- Marked Man (2021)
- Fall Guy (2022)
Other Books from the Joe Gunther Series
- “In the Woods” by Tana French – A gripping crime novel set in Ireland, featuring a complex detective and a haunting murder mystery.
- “The Dry” by Jane Harper – A suspenseful thriller set in a drought-stricken Australian town, where a federal agent investigates a shocking crime.
- “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith – A charming and heartwarming series set in Botswana, following the adventures of a female detective solving cases with wit and compassion.
See also: Women’s Murder Club Series in Order.
Most Recommended Books
- Fruits of the Poisonous Tree (Joe Gunther Series, #5) (4.06 Goodreads score)
- The Skeleton’s Knee (Joe Gunther Series, #4) (3.98 Goodreads score)
- Scent of Evil (Joe Gunther Series, #3) (3.93 Goodreads score)
- Bellows Falls (Joe Gunther Series, #8) (3.92 Goodreads score)
- Borderlines (Joe Gunther Series, #2) (3.88 Goodreads score)
Archer Mayor received the New England Booksellers Association book award for fiction in 2004. He has also received the Robert B Parker Award and the Vermont Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts.
In the book "Open Season" Lt. Joe Gunther, a police officer in Brattleboro, Vermont, faces a troubling situation. In a community where murders are rare, there is suddenly a rise in killings. Innocent people are being murdered and others are being framed, all seemingly connected to a mysterious person wearing a ski mask. Clues suggest that a murder trial from three years ago may be at the center of these events, but many in the police department want to keep the case closed. Lt. Gunther, a man of integrity, knows he must follow the case to its end, no matter where it leads.
In "Borderlines" Lt. Joe Gunther is investigating a small case of embezzlement in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. As he delves deeper into the investigation, a house fire reveals itself to be arson and murder. Gunther becomes entangled in a complex web of tension between the townspeople, state police, parents, and a secretive group. With each murder, the truth becomes more elusive, even from Gunther's childhood friends. In order to put an end to the killings, Gunther must uncover the whole truth.
Scent of Evil
"Scent of Evil" follows Lt. Joe Gunther as he investigates the murder of a young stockbroker. As the investigation unfolds, Gunther becomes suspicious of a policeman who may have been involved in the crime. However, he soon realizes that he is running out of time to prevent another murder, as the perpetrator always seems to be one step ahead. With the town selectmen growing increasingly impatient, Gunther must navigate the sweltering August heat and find the killer before it's too late.
The Skeleton’s Knee
"The Skeleton's Knee" is a murder mystery that follows Lt. Joe Gunther as he investigates the death of a reclusive market gardener. The man's death, caused by a bullet wound from 20 years ago, presents a challenging case for Gunther. As he delves deeper into the investigation, he discovers that the victim, Abraham Fuller, was a mysterious and private individual who lived a solitary life. However, the presence of a bag of money and a buried body in Fuller's garden suggests that there may be more to his story than meets the eye. Gunther soon realizes that this is not a cold case, as someone is willing to go to great lengths, even commit murder, to protect long-buried secrets.
Fruits of the Poisonous Tree
"Fruits of the Poisonous Tree" follows detective Joe Gunther as he investigates the rape of Gail Zigman, his long-time companion. As Gunther delves into the case, he faces pressure from the media, local politicians, and victims' rights advocates. Despite all signs pointing to a clear suspect, Gunther questions the validity of the evidence. With his own personal relationships and reputation on the line, Gunther risks everything to uncover the truth and determine if the man in jail is truly guilty or if the evidence against him is tainted.
The Dark Root
In "The Dark Root" a violent break-in in Brattleboro's Asian community leaves everyone silent. Joe Gunther, determined to uncover the truth, uncovers a secret smuggling operation between Canada and the US. This hidden operation, involving drugs, illegal goods, and immigrants, has been operating unnoticed for years. However, as rival gangs clash, the dangerous operation is exposed, leading to deadly consequences. Gunther must work with the FBI, Border Patrol, and the Mounties to bring justice to this international crime.
The Ragman’s Memory
Joe Gunther is given a bird's nest made of human hair by a young girl. As Joe investigates the origin of the hair, he uncovers a mysterious death, a gruesome murder, and a sudden disappearance. These events appear to be connected to a complex network of corruption, blackmail, and industrial spying. Joe believes that a traumatized World War II veteran known as "The Ragman" may have crucial information, but he must convince him to speak before the killer strikes once more.
Joe Gunther is assigned to investigate harassment claims against a fellow officer in the neighboring town. Initially, the case appears straightforward, but as Gunther continues his investigation, he suspects that it may be a setup. He soon discovers connections to a drug distribution network that spans the entire state.
The Disposable Man
"The Disposable Man" is a crime novel set in Vermont. When a body is discovered in a local quarry, Joe Gunther suspects it may be a Russian mafia killing. However, things take a surprising turn when the CIA gets involved and Gunther finds himself caught in a dangerous game of manipulation and betrayal. As he navigates through the shadowy world of cold warriors, Gunther realizes that he is being used as a pawn by both sides. Will he be able to uncover the truth before it's too late?
In "Occam's Razor" a body is found on the train tracks, deliberately positioned to hide its identity. Joe Gunther, a detective, senses that something is off about the case. As he investigates, he uncovers a dangerous scheme involving toxic waste and state politics. With each new discovery, Gunther wonders how many secrets will be revealed if he applies Occam's razor to his investigation.
The Marble Mask
Joe Gunther is now the head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI), a task force responsible for major crimes across the state. In their first case, the VBI team travels to Stowe where they discover a 50-year-old corpse in a crevasse on Mt. Mansfield. As they investigate, they encounter interesting characters from previous books in the series, including one-armed Willy and Joe's colleague Sammie Martens. The frozen body turns out to be a former Canadian crime boss named Jean Deschamps, who disappeared after World War II. Joe and his team collaborate with the Mounties, the Sûreté, and local police in Sherbrooke to solve the case.
"Tucker Peak" follows Lt. Joe Gunther and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation as they investigate a series of condo burglaries at a ski resort. When the main suspect goes missing and his girlfriend is found dead, Joe and his team must navigate a web of drug dealing, environmental terrorism, and attempted murder. Going undercover, they delve into the exclusive world of a one-company town filled with wealthy residents and resort employees who may not be who they appear to be.
The Sniper’s Wife
In "The Sniper's Wife" Willy receives a distressing call from the NYPD informing him that his ex-wife, Mary, has been found dead in her apartment. Reluctantly leaving his peaceful life in Vermont, Willy returns to the city where he grew up, only to be confronted with the sight of Mary's lifeless body. The police believe she died from an overdose, but Willy has his doubts. Overwhelmed by grief and guilt, he delves into his past, particularly his time in Vietnam where he was known as the Sniper. As Willy uncovers more about his past actions, he must confront the consequences of his past and face the haunting nickname that still follows him.
Vermont detective Joe Gunther is determined to put an end to the drug problem in his state. In just one week, a young heroin addict is shot while attempting a robbery, a drug dealer is discovered hanging from a bridge, and the granddaughter of influential politicians dies from an overdose. Gunther is determined to stop the flow of drugs and bring justice to those responsible.
The Surrogate Thief
Joe Gunther, a seasoned cop, has fought against various criminals in his career. However, a case from thirty years ago haunts him. When store owner Klaus Ober-feldt was robbed and killed, Gunther let the case go cold due to personal struggles. Now, the case resurfaces, forcing Gunther to confront his past and face a dangerous murderer who may strike again.
St. Albans Fire
Joe Gunther and his team from the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are facing multiple challenges. They are stretched thin, working on cases in different locations, including a rural area in Vermont and the slums of Newark, NJ. However, their limits are truly tested when a series of arson incidents escalate into a shocking string of murders in the peaceful Green Mountain State.
The Second Mouse
"The Second Mouse" is a story about a young woman named Amelia Peabody who inherits her father's wealth and determination. Excited about her love for Egyptology, she travels to Cairo with a companion who has a troubled past. However, Amelia soon discovers that danger lurks in the form of murder and a dangerous mummy.
In this suspenseful novel Joe Gunther is drawn into the world of Internet chat rooms as he investigates two cases. In a small town in Vermont, an unidentified body is found, leading Gunther and his team on a hunt for a murderer with no apparent connection to the victim. At the same time, Gunther's family faces a threat, forcing him to rely on his network of police officers to uncover the source of danger. As secrets unravel in this close-knit community, Gunther must confront dangerous criminals to protect his loved ones.
"The Catch" is a crime novel that follows Joe Gunther, a dedicated Vermont cop who is now the head of the VBI (Vermont Bureau of Investigation). When Joe receives the devastating news that a fellow officer has been shot and killed during a routine traffic stop, he is determined to bring the perpetrators to justice. The evidence suggests that the killers are a pair of drug runners from Boston who were stopped by the deputy sheriff on their way to Boston from Canada.
The Price of Malice
"The Price of Malice" is a murder mystery that follows the investigation into the brutal killing of Wayne Castine. Castine, a suspected child predator, was found dead in Brattleboro, where he was connected to a complex web of an extended family residing in a local trailer park. With multiple potential suspects within the clan, any member could have had the opportunity and motive to commit the murder. Meanwhile, Joe Gunther discovers unsettling information about his girlfriend's missing father and brother, suggesting they may have been victims of foul play.
In "Red Herring" Joe Gunther and his team from the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are called to investigate a series of violent deaths. At first, the deaths seem unrelated, but as they dig deeper, they discover a connection between them - they are all murders. The only clue left behind is a drop of unexplained blood at each crime scene. The police are left with many questions, including the meaning of the mysterious blood deposits and the identities of three additional unknown individuals. To uncover the truth, the VBI must delve into the suspects' pasts, the victims' personal lives, and analyze every piece of evidence, even utilizing advanced forensic technology at the Brookhaven National Lab.
In "Tag Man" a mysterious burglar is targeting wealthy individuals in Brattleboro, Vermont. The burglar leaves behind a Post-it note with the message "You're it," but doesn't steal anything significant. As the story gains media attention, the burglar, known as the Tag Man, realizes he has stumbled upon evidence of a series of murders. Joe Gunther and his VBI team must navigate conflicting evidence to uncover the truth, while the Tag Man fights for his life.
"Paradise City" follows detective Joe Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation as they investigate a series of burglaries across Vermont. Alongside this, the Boston police are investigating the murder of an elderly woman in Boston, which appears to be connected to the burglaries. The investigation leads them to Northampton, Massachusetts, where they believe someone powerful is buying the stolen items.
Three Can Keep a Secret
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the police force is overwhelmed, leaving Gunther to tackle a series of seemingly unrelated cases. A gravesite is discovered with a coffin filled with rocks instead of a body, an elderly politician dies under suspicious circumstances, and a former governor escapes from a mental facility. Gunther and his team must uncover the truth behind these events and unravel the secret that connects them all.
Proof Positive tells the story of Ben Kendall, a troubled man who returned from Vietnam with PTSD and hidden scars. After his death, it is discovered that he had brought back combat photos and negatives from Vietnam that someone is desperate to keep hidden. When his cousin Beverly Hillstrom alerts Joe Gunther and his team, they must race against time to protect Beverly's daughter Rachel, who unknowingly becomes involved in the dangerous situation.
The Company She Kept
A woman's body is found hanging from a net on the cliffs in Vermont. She was a state senator and a close friend of the governor. Joe Gunther and his team from the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are called in to help the police solve the murder before it becomes a media frenzy. As they dig deeper, they uncover a complex web of secrets and a possible hate crime. The investigation takes a twist when they realize that the murder scene was carefully staged.
Presumption of Guilt
In "Presumption of Guilt" a decades-old mystery resurfaces when a skeleton is discovered at a former nuclear energy site. Joe Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation take on the case, which has now been classified as murder. As they delve into the investigation, they uncover rumors and speculations surrounding the victim, Hank Mitchell, and his ties to New York City mafia money. The case takes a dangerous turn when one of the key figures is murdered and a young police officer is kidnapped. Gunther and his team must race against time to solve the case and bring justice to those involved.
Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI) is faced with three cases at once. While VBI head Joe Gunther takes time off to care for his sick mother, the individual investigators are left to handle the cases on their own. Sammie Martens is assigned a murder case involving a young woman who was targeted by a hitman. Lester Spinney takes on a famous cold case, questioning the true identity of the killer. Willy Kunkle's case involves a child's discovery of teeth on a railroad track, leading to a potential act of sabotage against military equipment.
Bury the Lead
Joe Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation investigate the murder of a young woman near a ski mountain. With a suspect and a confession in hand, the team begins to suspect that there is more to the case than meets the eye. Simultaneously, a local business is being targeted with acts of vandalism, and it is discovered that the confessed murderer was once employed by the company. As the team delves deeper into the cases, they uncover motives that may connect them, all while dealing with the sidelining of a key team member and a suspicious outbreak of Ebola at a hospital. Joe must unravel a tragic history and stop the killer before another victim falls prey to their murderous loathing.
Crosscut: A Joe Gunther Short Story
"Crosscut: A Joe Gunther Short Story" delves into the untold past of VBI Detective Sammie Martens. The story follows Sammie, who grew up in a chaotic household with a single mother. After leaving the Army, Sammie returns home only to be kicked out by her mother's boyfriend. When her mother is arrested for armed robbery, Sammie becomes convinced that her mother's boyfriend is involved and up to no good. Despite being warned by the police to stay away, Sammie takes matters into her own hands and begins her own investigation.
"Bomber's Moon" follows the story of two young women, an investigative reporter and a private investigator, who become unlikely allies in solving a series of murders. As they work together, they uncover a web of corruption and dark secrets at a prestigious prep school. While the police investigate the murders, the two women go undercover and meet with criminals to gather insider information. However, they soon realize that there is a malevolent force behind all the chaos, determined to protect its ancient and sinister origins.
The Orphan’s Guilt
John Rust is arrested for drunk driving. His lawyer hires private investigator Sally Kravitz to investigate the death of John's younger brother, which was believed to be caused by a childhood brain injury. As Sally delves into the case, she uncovers a dark history of greed, betrayal, and revenge that surrounded the Rust boys. Meanwhile, Joe Gunther and his team join the investigation, trying to unravel the truth.
The story revolves around the death of Nathan Lyon, a wealthy philanthropist. Initially believed to have died of natural causes, it is later discovered that Lyon was actually Nick Bianchi, with ties to the Mafia. As Lyon's family members start dying under suspicious circumstances, Joe Gunther and his team from the Vermont Bureau of Investigation work tirelessly to uncover the truth behind the murders. Gunther travels to Rhode Island to investigate the source of Lyon's money, while private investigator Sally Kravitz and reporter Rachel Reiling join forces to expose the web of deceit, greed, and obsession surrounding Lyon's life. With Lyon being a marked man, Gunther must identify the killer among many suspects and put an end to the killing spree.
When a stolen car filled with stolen items is discovered, Joe Gunther and his team from the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are called in. However, things take a dark turn when they find a body in the trunk, belonging to the burglar Don Kalfus. As they investigate, they uncover evidence of a long-unsolved child abduction case. Now, Gunther's team must navigate a complex and dangerous web of secrets and tragedy as they hunt down the psychopath responsible.
Snow Blind is a short story in the Joe Gunther mystery series. Set in Vermont during a typical snowstorm, the story follows a young man who finds himself caught up in a perplexing situation involving a crime.
Southern Timberman: The Legacy of William Buchanan
Southern Timberman: The Legacy of William Buchanan tells the story of William Buchanan and the companies he owned in Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. Buchanan was a self-made man who was known for his compassion towards his workers and his determination to make a profit. The book explores his rise to wealth and the conflicts within his family as they fought to preserve their fortune.