Presumption of Guilt: A Joe Gunther Novel (Minotaur Books, $16.99, 304 pages)
Presumption of Guilt is Familiar, Solid
When you have a good thing going, why change? Archie Mayor’s Presumption of Guilt is the 27th in the Joe Gunther series that began in 1988, and its familiarity is pleasing. Gunther is an agent with the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI). His brazen and unorthodox ways get results, and the reader easily and immediately accesses the setting and characters while the plot unfolds.
Mayor’s background as a medical examiner allows for insider commentary when bodies turn up, which some will no doubt find interesting. His chapters are somewhat longer than most suspense novels, which is due in part to the fact that much of the story is told in dialogue. In this addition to the Gunther catalog, Gunther’s daughter joins him and considers following in his footsteps with the VBI.
In Presumption, the body of Hank Mitchell is found in a slab of concrete on the property of a recently decommissioned nuclear power plant. Initially, there is no obvious motive for this 40-year-old cold case. But during the investigation a police officer is attacked, gagged and left on the side of the road. A suspect in the old Mitchell case is soon found murdered.
Several people take it upon themselves to solve the initial murder and the related case, and no one seems to be above suspicion. Joe, of course, gets to the bottom of things but not before taking a bullet, and not without several unanticipated turns. These turns keep the reader fully engaged until the very last page.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Presumption of Guilt is now available in a trade paperback version.
Dave Moyer is the author of Life and Life Only: A Novel of baseball, life and Bob Dylan. He is a public school superintendent in Illinois.