Wednesday, January 17

St. Alban's Fire by Archer Mayor

Review by Theodore Feit 

Having read the sequel, The Second Mouse, it seemed advisable to read the predecessor novel for sheer enjoyment.  Joe Gunther is an excellent protagonist, and the Vermont setting and descriptions in both novels are excellent.   Only this time, Joe is taken far afield from the snow and hills of New England to urban Newark.

 

A series of mysterious barn burnings, in one of which a young man is burned to death, followed by sales of the farms on which they were located sets the stage for this mystery.  Two other farm sales made after accidents may or may not be related.  The only clue seems to be a common modus operandi in two of the fires.  The investigation proceeds to find the arsonist, who may be based in Newark.   But who hired him and for what purpose?

 

The tale is painstakingly told and well-written.  Gunther and his love face danger from the killer.  The conclusion, while logical, is totally unexpected.   Reading the first novel lived up to the expectations raised by the second.

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