First Sentence: Tony Farnum waited until he saw Barry’s face in the driver’s-side mirror before motioning him to back up, looking over his shoulder to make sure the concrete mixer’s rear wheels didn’t hit the staked wooden form bordering the pour site.
The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant has been decommissioned and parts, including a large concrete slab, are being dismantled. Works comes to a halt when a skeleton from 40 years ago is found within the concrete. First they need to identify him, then Joe Gunther and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation team need to find his killer. Are we talking the Mafia and money laundering, or something more personal?
Mayor’s dialogue is always real—“How’d we get the call?” he asked. “Through the state police. …” Joe nodded. “Okay. Given how that plant’s been a publicity shit-magnet since before it was plugged in, you better call the state’s attorney while I let our esteemed director know at HQ.”
Introducing us to the investigative team is essentially done in one, very effective and efficient paragraph. However, we not only know the investigators, but get to know their families and partners as well. There is even a romance aspect. Although it is an adult, sexual relationship, it’s behind closed doors so no one’s sensibilities are disturbed.
It is also not very often a police procedural includes a likable, very well spoken, crook. Plus, we’re given insight into the operation of different sheriff’s departments.
The plot is very much a police procedural; a matter of brainstorming followed by chasing down leads with the occasional injection of suspense and excitement. It’s an investigation with a lot of possibilities and twists.
“Presumption of Guilt” isn’t a single-man, hot-shot cop story, but a really solid police procedural with an excellent ensemble of characters, and a very good, solid plot that leaves you guessing all the way to the end.
PRESUMPTION OF GUILT: A JOE GUNTHER NOVEL (Pol Proc-Joe Gunther-Vermont-Contemp) – VG+
Mayor, Archer – 27th in series
Minotaur Books – Sept 2016