Joe Gunther, the Brattleboro, Vt. detective who is the focus of Archer Mayor’s long running mystery series, moves to the sidelines in Tag Man (Minotaur: Sept. 27, 2011 release), while the criminal he seeks takes center stage. But Dan Kravitz, known to the police only as “Tag Man,” is a very unusual villain.
Dan breaks into the homes of the very rich while their owners sleep. He searches through their possessions, eats in their kitchens and leaves them a Post-it note saying “Tag!” to reveal his presence. To the reclusive, obsessive Dan, this is all just a game – a means of allowing him to feel in control of his world.
Dan’s expeditions are harmless, but the people whose homes he invades are not. On one such journey Dan discovers albums filled with photographs of women who appear to have been murdered. Since he can’t report his discovery to the police without revealing his identity, he decides to search for Paul Hauser, the owner of the albums, himself.
Dan’s investigation is complicated by his earlier break-in at the home of Lloyd Jordon, a man with mob ties. Jordan has hired hit man Leo Metelica to murder Dan. But when Leo threatens the life of Dan’s teenage daughter Sally, an enraged Dan kills Leo instead.
Tag Man, Archer Mayor’s 22nd Joe Gunther story, is a multi-layered novel in which the police procedural format becomes a vehicle for a study of relationships. Chief among these is the rapport between Dan and Sally. Despite his own personal difficulties, Dan has raised a bright and well-adjusted daughter, one whose love for him knows no limits. Motivated by her own curiosity and a desire to protect her father, Sally joins in Dan’s search for a killer with surprising eagerness.
Willy Kunkle and Sammie Martens, detectives working for Joe Gunther in the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, face changes in their own relationship after the recent birth of their daughter, Emma. Willy is a former Army sniper whose eccentricities have led to his reputation as the department’s “loose cannon.” Sammie’s own childhood was marked by neglect and confusion.
Joe Gunter himself is attempting to adjust to the recent death of Lyn Silva, the woman he loved, and to decide how much his job has contributed to his loss. In Tag Man Joe reevaluates his life as a police officer, ultimately accepting that “it is good work; it helps people in need; it puts people in jail who need to be there, and it is good for your soul.”
Writer Archer Mayor has been personally involved in police work, too. He is both a deputy sheriff and an investigator for Vermont’s State’s Attorney’s office. Mayor and the Brattleboro, Vt. setting of his Joe Gunther series were recently profiled in National Public Radio’s Crime in the City series.
FTC disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided by MOB-PR.