The Second Mouse
Archer Mayor

Mysterious Press
Hardcover/304 pages
ISBN: 0892960728
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"…a deceptively simple jigsaw puzzle with seemingly unrelated pieces that fit beautifully together in the end."

Even evil men can be decent—but only just.

Agent Joe Gunther walks unannounced upon the scene of Michelle Fisher’s death. An attractive woman looking as if she had just fallen asleep across the bed while waiting for someone, Michelle’s death attracts Gunther’s attention. It could be suicide or death by natural causes. Michelle was an alcoholic who had lived and loved hard, but Gunther senses something darker… something like murder.

Gunther is Vermont’s top cop and head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, an elite squad of detectives. If he’s wrong, he has no business on the scene or looking into Michelle’s death, but if he’s right…

A trio of petty thieves whose leader is looking for a retirement score, a sleazy landlord, two absentee mothers making connections with wayward children, a no-nonsense medical examiner with a political monkey on her back, a grieving alcoholic friend, a missing cat, nuclear waste disposal, drugs and people watching neighbors somehow are all connected. And Gunther is determined to find out what that connection is.

Archer Mayor’s latest detective story starts with a quote: "…The second mouse gets the cheese." Joe Gunther is The Second Mouse on the scene but a first rate cop. He possesses an instinct for crime, making educated guesses based on decades-long experience in the field. He has a complex personality that makes him human and very likeable. The Second Mouse is a deceptively simple jigsaw puzzle with seemingly unrelated pieces that fit beautifully together in the end.

The characters are flawed and real and subtly layered. The background scenery of Vermont is very much a story character. At times it seems Mayor is forcing square pegs into round holes with his own undecipherable agenda. However, as the story takes shape and locks on a direction it moves over bumpy ground to a satisfying and honest conclusion. Mayor has a very real sense of place and characterization that makes The Second Mouse hard to put down, placing his fictional Vermont dead center in current local and national news.
Reviewer: J. M. Cornwell