Okay, mystery lovers, I have a book here that I want you to know about… especially if you like mysteries that are set in New England. It’s “Marked Man: A Joe Gunther Novel” by Archer Mayor. I am juuust about to finish it. As often happens toward the end of books that I’m really loving, I’m putting off the final few pages because I don’t want it to end.
Now, I know this is a blog focused on cozies so I'd better warn you, this book is not a cozy. I'd probably call it a "police procedural" because the main character heads up a team of officials who investigate homicides. That said, on the scale of gritty-gory to totally cozy, this one falls somewhere in the middle. I'm a softy when it comes to violence; I really can't handle much of it. In this book, most of the graphic stuff happens off the page.
Here’s what I loved about this book...
Marked Man is set in the town of Brattleboro, in southern Vermont. This is a real town, and since Archer Mayor lives near there the details are incredible. I have been to Brattleboro many times and reading this book makes me feel like I am right there, hiking up Main Street, visiting the food co-op, or poking around the larger-than-expected (for a relatively small town) library.
There is something so cool about reading a book that is set in a place you’ve visited, or even lived for a while, isn’t there? I imagine people who live in cities get to experience it quite a lot. There are tons of books set in London, NYC, Houston, or other cities. But for those of us who have spent a lot of time in smaller towns it’s harder to find stories set in the places we know well. Maybe it’s because it’s so rare that it feels special to me now as I’m reading this book set in a town I’ve been in and through so many times:)
In my own writing, I’ve created a fictional town in southern Vermont as the setting of my Midlife Medicine series. Because of this I hear from readers who have also lived in Vermont or other states in New England, or have visited. They say that the way I describe the back roads or the foliage reminds them of what they saw and experienced. I sometimes hear that it’s nice to “travel” to Vermont through my writing. If you enjoy “traveling” to this area through books, you might like to pick up Marked Man!
Another thing I’m loving about this book is that it takes place during the winter months. There’s even a scene where the Vermont Bureau of Investigations (VBI) officer conducts an interview with a suspect on a sledding hill... once in a while pausing the questions to race sleds with the suspect's kid. That was great.
Mayor describes the different kinds of wintery weather so precisely that I can’t help but feel it right along with the characters as I’m reading. Take this sentence, for example:
“Turning up his collar, he stepped out into the parking lot and into one of those beautiful, silent, windless New England snowfalls of Bing Crosby fame, where the fat white flakes, flashing by the nearby streetlamps, seemed poured from an enormous box of old-fashioned laundry soap, high above.”Archer Mayor, Marked Man
If you’ve ever lived in New England, I’m guessing you can imagine this scene vividly, just as I did when I read it!
From the very start, the plot of this book has held me captive. There’s so much going on. Multiple investigators, each with a backstory and particular way of working, question the many suspects. Several murders happen (I don’t want to give too much away in case you do pick up the book), along with other crimes. The events happen in quick succession, bam-bam-bam, one right after another. That has really kept me flipping the pages. The plot is so complex that a few times so far I've had to refer to the charts and diagrams presented. That makes me feel like I'm part of the team, solving the crime along with the investigators. Fun!
Even though I write cozies I can really get into police procedurals, psych thrillers, and traditional detective stories once in a while. While the book I'm reading now is a grittier than cozies, it's not so gritty as to make me want to hide under the covers or check the cupboards for burglars before I go to bed. In other words, it's not freaking me out like some of the more hard-core mysteries do! If I can handle it, I think some of you cozy readers might like this mystery, too.
Again, it's "Marked Man: A Joe Gunther Novel" by Archer Mayor. If you find yourself in a library or browsing the kindle store or a local book shop for your next read, you might want to consider this one! Especially if you're like me and you LOVE a good snowy scene set in New England.
Hey, I'd love to hear from you. What are you reading this week? Leave a comment below to share about the book you're enjoying.
Amorette Anderson writes warm-hearted cozy mysteries that star witchy characters. She lives in Colorado with her husband and furbabies, pups Marley and Teddy. When she’s not writing or reading she’s dreaming up ways to make life a little more magical.