A Joe Gunther Novel #25
Minotaur Books, September 2014
A typical Joe Gunther novel has him and his team slogging along attempting to put a picture together to solve whatever crime they’re investigating. In this novel, the Vermont Bureau of Investigation team Joe heads is involved in looking deeply into the death of a semi-recluse, Ben Kendall, who served as a photographer in Vietnam. Joe is asked to look into the death, which does not appear to be suspicious, by his girlfriend, Beverly Hillstrom, the state’s medical examiner, who is a cousin to the dead man, who was a hoarder very much like the storied Collyer brothers who gained fame many decades earlier in New York City.
Almost as soon as Joe starts looking into the situation, Ben’s ex-wife is murdered in Philadelphia, where Ben originally came from. From that point, a full investigation proceeds, complicated by additional deaths and kidnappings and the fact that Beverly’s daughter is cataloguing and photographing Ben’s photos and junk and might be the next victim. The problem is that no one knows what Ben may have brought back from Vietnam or what the instigator of all the crimes is looking for.
Like the previous novels in the series, the police procedural descriptions are straightforward and logical, and the characters play their accustomed roles, especially Joe’s colleague, Willy. One quibble: The conclusion strikes a manufactured false note affecting the usual high quality of a novel in this series. ‘Tis a pity, because the Joe Gunther novels are as good a series as there is today.
Reviewed by Ted Feit, April 2015.