Red Herring (Joe Gunther Series #21)

Red Herring (Joe Gunther Series #21)

by Archer Mayor


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VBI (Vermont Bureau of Investigation) head Joe Gunther and his team are called in to investigate a series of violent deaths that appear unrelated until telltale clues reveal a linkage between them and that all of the deaths are, in fact, murders. However, apart from a single drop of unexplained blood left at each crime scene, there are no obvious connections between the victims or the cases. The police are faced with more questions than answers including what do the mysterious deposits of blood mean, coming as they do from three additional unknown people. In their search for the elusive truth, the VBI must plumb the depths of every suspect's past, every victim's most intimate details, and examine each piece of evidence down to the smallest detail—an examination which includes a trip to the Brookhaven National Lab on Long Island and an exploration of cutting edge forensic technology.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312609290
Publisher: St. Martin''s Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/30/2011
Series: Joe Gunther Series , #21
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 207,363
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

ARCHER MAYOR is a death investigator, a sheriff's deputy, and a volunteer firefighter and EMT in addition to being a novelist. He lives in Newfane, Vermont.

Read an Excerpt


Doreen Ferenc slipped her nightgown over her head and let it fall the length of her body and gently settle onto her shoulders. This was the reward of every day, this threshold moment, when, as though dropping a heavy burden, she exchanged her regular clothing, complete with belts, buttons, zippers, and elastic, for the sensual, almost weightless comfort of a simple shift of light cotton.

Not that the day had been more onerous than usual. Her mom had been in good spirits, minimally judgmental of the nursing-home staff. They'd served Indian pudding for lunch, a perennial favorite. Her mother had once been an expert at the dessert, and it had led them both down a path of happy memories while they'd worked on the quilt for Doreen's new nephew. Doreen's brother, Mark, had recently married a much younger woman in Nevada, where they lived, and she'd just delivered their first child.

Doreen and Mark weren't particularly close, as siblings went, but they got along, and their mom loved them both. She preferred Mark, as Doreen well knew, but only because he was in a position to present her with a grandchild. Doreen had never found marriage appealing, and by and large didn't like kids, which, thank God, she was now safely beyond having anyway. The quilt had become a salutary talisman of good tidings to which Doreen could contribute guilt-free.

She left the bedroom in her bare feet and dropped her clothes into the laundry hamper in the darkened bathroom, pausing a moment to admire the unexpected snow falling from the night sky onto the enormous skylight she'd spent too much money having installed. The house was an almost tacky prefab ranch—virtually a trailer with pretensions—but she knew in her heart that it was also the house she'd most likely die in, so why not splurge a little, like on the skylight and the heat she poured on to make the whole house as toasty as in mid- July? She loved winters in Vermont, including flukily premature ones like this year's. She'd known them her whole life, and had, at various times, enjoyed skiing, snowball fights, and even shoveling the driveway. But no longer. Now she just wanted to watch the weather from the comfort of an evenly heated, boring modern house that was fussed over by a handyman complete with a snowplow— assuming he'd attached the plow to his pickup by now. She had started working full-time at seventeen, decades earlier, and now she was going to enjoy all the fruits of a slightly early retirement.

Entertaining such thoughts, she pursued the next step in her nightly routine, and entered the small kitchen. There, she dished out a single scoop of vanilla ice cream, splashed an appreciable quantity of brandy over its rounded top, and retired to the living- room couch, which was strategically angled so she could watch TV from a reclining position.

It was snowing—heavily, too—and only October. People hadn't switched to snow tires, sand deliveries were still being made to town road crews, and cars were going to be decorating ditches all over the state by morning. But Doreen didn't have to care about any of it. She was as snug as the proverbial bug.

Settled at last, she hit the remote, dialed in her favorite channel, and heard the doorbell ring.

“Damn,” she murmured, glancing at the digital clock on the set. It was just before ten p.m. “Who on earth?”

She placed her bowl on the coffee table, struggled up from her place of comfort, and sighed heavily as she crossed the room to the tiny mudroom and the front door beyond it.

Enclosing herself in the mudroom to preserve the heat, she slipped on an overcoat from the row of nearby pegs, hit the outside light, and called out, “Who is it?” She could see the outline of a man standing before the frosted glass of the door.

A weak voice answered, “You don't know me, ma'am. My name's Lyle Robinson. I've just wrecked my car about a half mile up. I was wondering if I could use your phone.”

So much for keeping immune from the woes of poor weather. She then heard him cough and bend over as he clutched his chest.

“Are you all right?”

“I think so, ma'am. I wasn't wearing my seat belt, like a damn fool … Sorry. Don't mean to offend. I think I just bruised my chest, is all.”

She hesitated.

“Ma'am?” he said next. “Not that it'll matter, but I'm a cousin of Jim and Clara Robinson. They used to live just outside Saxtons River. I don't know if you know them.”

“I do,” she blurted out. “So, you're related to Sherry?”

“Yes, ma'am, although what she's doing way out west is beyond any of us.”

Doreen threw open the door.

She was only aware of two things after that: the bare blade of an enormous knife, held just two inches before her eyes, and, behind it, a man disguised by a hooded sweatshirt worn backward, two holes cut in the fabric for his eyes. She now understood why his voice had sounded weak.

“Okay, Dory,” he said. “Drop the coat and step back inside. You and I are gonna get acquainted.”

Excerpted from Red Herring by Archer Mayor.

Copyright © 2010 by Archer Mayor.

Published in 2010 by St. Martin's Press

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Red Herring (Joe Gunther Series #21) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
PR61 More than 1 year ago
Don't even think of taking a peek to the back of Red Herring. You'll be cheating yourself if you don't read every page in order. Not only is this Archer Mayor at his best, this is absolutely the best of the hundreds of mystery novels I have read in recent years. There is more than one shocking end to this story. The last page has a surprise unrelated to the events surrounding the crimes. It is, however, related to people Mayor fans know very well. Just after you find the dramatic climax to the tale, Mayor lays this one on you.
VERYFRESH More than 1 year ago
This was a great read. As the title suggests, there is indeed a red herring in this mystery. I liked the fact that you are kept guessing the whole way through this book. Good job Mr. Mayor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fantastic read. I am a big fan of the Joe Gunther series. They are excellently written and the cast of characters are brilliant. Archer Mayor has written the perfect crime novel. It is suspenseful and the end has a twist that really made me feel for Joe's character for a couple of days. The ending was as courageous as any that I have read. Mayor's best novel to date. I do disagree that this one could be read first. I truly believe that you should read at least three of the previous Joe Gunther novels before reading this one to truly appreciate Joe's emotions in the last chapter of this outstanding novel.
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KenCady More than 1 year ago
Red Herring has few surprises as a serial-killer investigation, although the new work they can do with blood evidence is amazing, if it is yet true. But that's one of the novel's faults- too many science lectures. Whether it contains too much political stuff may depend on your leanings. But, for me, it was a mostly unsatisfying novel, with a significant part that should frighten women away from future Joe Gunther novels. Should.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
FictionFan150 More than 1 year ago
It's a shame that more people are not acquainted with Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther series. Mayor is every bit the equal of my other favorite mystery author Michael Connelly, except Joe Gunther despiter many adversities in his personal life is not the brooding character that Harry Bosch is in the Connelly books. This particular book is one of the best in the series, which is interestingly set in Vermont rather than the big city and in the course of the series Mayor introduces readers to manty recurring characters we learn to know and care about. The criminal procedural aspects of the series are also very detailed and informative. I highly recommernd this book to first time Mayor readers. If you are a mystery fan, you will not regret reading this book and more importantly I think you will be eager to read the other 20 volumes in the series.