The newly minted Vermont Bureau of Investigation, with Special Agent Joe Gunther second in command, gets the perfect starter case. It's strange, its major, and it's something none of the other, more mundane law enforcement agencies are dying to claim. A dead man found high in the mountains over Stowe turns out to have been murdered, um, quite some time ago. Clad in clothes stylish 50 years back, the mummified victim, an ice-pick puncture wound in its heart, was once Jean Deschamps, according to his 1947 Canadian driver's license. And thereby hangs a saga, replete with unexpected twists involving chicanery, betrayals, homicides, and police on both sides of the border. Investigation makes it clear in a hurry that Deschamps was no mere ski-happy tourist. Powerful, ruthless, brilliant in his own way, he was a significant, if shadowy, figure in the annals of postwar gangsters. So what was he doing by his lonesome in the Stowe mountains? And why, if he was so important, was there something less than a hue and cry raised about his disappearance? Good questions, all of them, for Joe and his tyro task force to address while dealing as well with the kind of political infighting that makes Joe’s newly bureaucratic beat so tough, and his dilemmas so interesting.
Warmhearted, streetwise Joe, the quintessential good cop, continues to be the strength of this estimable series (Occam's Razor, 1999, etc.), whose latest entry is, as usual, colorful, readable, and just a bit overcomplicated.