Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Three Can Keep a Secret - Archer Mayor

First line: "Leo Gunther gingerly closed the squeaky door of his beloved and battered Ford Mustang and glanced up at the low-hanging sky."

Three Can Keep a Secret is Archer Mayor's 24th book in the Joe Gunther series, but this was my first experience with the Vermont law man. This time out Hurricane Irene is tearing through Vermont, leaving Joe and his VBI team with a odd array of cases. The most prominent of the cases is a woman missing from the mental institution. She's been hospitalized for years but in the aftermath of the hurricane, she simply walked out of the building. The woman calls herself "The Governor" and after investigating her, Joe discovers that she was indeed governor--for a day.

Meanwhile the team is also investigating a coffin that was unearthed and only contained rocks as well as a former politician found dead in a retirement home. The death is initially ruled natural causes because of the man's age, but Joe has reservations and wants an autopsy to confirm the ruling.

Tom Taylorson narrates the novel for Blackstone Audio. This is Taylorson's first time with the series and those accustomed to William Dufris may find the switch a bit difficult. However, as a first timer to the series, I found that Taylorson keyed into Gunther's character well. He maintains a tone reflective of Gunther's age and gender. Gunther is a complex character but displays little of what's inside him for the world to see.

The tone is, likewise, reflective of the genre. This is a mystery and the pace is not that of a high-octane thriller. The storm has passed and there's no ticking time clock.

Taylorson was also attuned to the humor and emotion in the characters. A sly smile on a character came out in his narration as much as a heated argument would.

Taylorson does have a tendency to emphasize hard consonants like "t" and "p," which is a distraction for me. If it's a character trait, that's one thing, but having those sounds so pronounced when the average person doesn't enunciate them to that degree pulls me out of the story and causes me to focus on the narration.

Mayor does an impressive job of weaving the environment, the politics and the characters' histories into the plot. He has an interesting crew on this Vermont Bureau of Investigations team and the audiobook of Three Can Keep a Secret was an entertaining listen.

Three Can Keep a Secret is available on unabridged audio--about 9 1/2 hours (ISBN: 978-1482955415)--from Blackstone Audio. It is also available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-1250026132) from Minotaur Books.


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