“We’re talking Shakespearean tragedy here,” says teammate Sammie Martens, evaluating Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation’s latest carnival of crime. Well, yes and no.
It begins quietly, with the discovery of a Jane Doe beaten to death and dumped along a mountain trail. And it continues quietly for a while, with the identification of the victim as working girl Teri Parker, the news that she was pregnant, and the confession of Mick Durocher, caught on surveillance cameras driving the four-wheeler that dumped the corpse near the peak of Bromley Mountain, that he killed the girl as well. But Joe and his teammates (Trace, 2017, etc.) aren’t satisfied with Mick’s confession, which begins with the implausible premise that this sad sack had had an extended relationship with a beautiful young woman and then gets so many details of the crime itself wrong. As they continue to hunt Teri’s killer, a plague of new crimes breaks out, many of them acts of sabotage against GreenField, an independent, but still corporate, grocer (think Whole Foods) under the control of founder Robert Beaupré and his dysfunctional family. Somebody dubbed J.R. has declared open season on GreenField’s physical plant, including its fleet of delivery trucks. As if those weren’t troubles enough, there’s a literal plague as well. The improbable appearance of the Ebola virus at Upper Valley Surgical Services, where senior nurse Victoria Garlanda has recently recruited Sue Spinney, the wife of Joe’s VBI buddy Lester Spinney, leaves Victoria herself gravely ill even though she never came into direct contact with the afflicted patient. No wonder Joe grouses, “I just keep going in circles on this damned case.” Or cases.
As so often before, Mayor traverses the Green Mountain State from end to end piling on complications and subplots that fans won’t expect to see any more neatly tied together than the collected works of William Shakespeare.