Friday, March 28, 2014

The Cephalopod Coffeehouse - March

During our two Snow Days earlier this month, I tore through this Vermont-based police procedural mystery.

I've been reading Archer Mayor's work since he first published "Open Season" in 1988.  I actually used to  bump into him or attended his signings so often, he would autograph copies of his books with very humorous, personalized inscriptions.

This is his 24th novel in the Joe Gunther series.  Gunther is a no nonsense, old school Vermonter who now heads the fictional Vermont Bureau of Investigation.  The novel takes place in the wake of Hurricane Irene, a storm that caused us some damage (though not as much as the May Flooding did to us that year).  The Hurricane exposes two decades old secrets in the state which wind their way throughout the novel.  I was very pleased that I was kept guessing until the very end.

I really loved this book.  Some of it might be my familiarity with the locales.  I also know many people with the same last names as many of the characters...even some atypical Vermont names....the Governor is named Zigman....I know a Zigman!  One of the detectives is named Spinney....I work with a woman whose maiden name is Spinney...I even knew a Kunkle at one point!

It's interesting to me to note how the longevity of the series has necessitated some changes.  Gunther's age and military history is more muted than it was when the series started 25 years ago.  There is less of a tying him down to specifics.  When I started reading the series, I always pictured Joe as my grandfather...then later I imagined him as Mayor, I sometimes picture myself as the hero....

I'm also really excited for the next chapter in the saga...

I also abandoned one book this month.

I really wanted to like this one but I just couldn't get into it.  It was too close to "The Series of Unfortunate Events", which I started out really liking but was ready for it to end by the 13th book, in terms of clever word play, characters, plot and narration.

I've read two good quotes about this book.  The first is from The Guardian: "A Series of Unfortunate Events started brilliantly, but dipped in quality over its 13 books; this time, sensibly, Handler has limited himself to only four."  However, I'm not interested in getting into any series right now!

The second comes from a GoodReads member: "Do any actual kids like Lemony Snicket books, or are they only read by hip parents who think that they are the kind of books they want their kids to like?"


  1. Ooooo. A mystery novel. That's what I'm needing in my TBR list. Thanks!!!

  2. Wow, a series that has run for 25 years, amazing. I'll look out for this as I do enjoy police thrillers. Thank you.

  3. My nephew grew quickly bored with a Snicket picture book, but his father was loving it!

  4. How cool that you've been reading the series all these years! I find it fascinating to read books that take place in or around where I live or grew up. Now I'm kind of interested in reading some of this series. And, I hear you on the Lemony Snicket thing. I don't understand the draw to those books.

  5. Very cool! I like that you have a kinda personal connection to the author, and have followed him for so long. Reading something set in familiar locations is always exciting to me, too. I'm only familiar with Vermont because I wrote a post about it last month, and fell in love with the state vicariously... but I'm always interested in finding a new author. (As if I don't read ENOUGH books, right?)

    Thanks for the recommendation.

  6. Hey, I know a Zigman, too!

    Our Girl read the Lemony Snicket book for a book project. I think she liked it, though she sometimes seems reluctant to speak disparagingly about things like books, as if she's worried she'll hurt their feelings.

  7. I'm pretty sure I know at least one teenager who told me to read Lemony Snicket. But maybe I'm hallucinating that. :D

    I haven't read any yet.

    Thanks for the Mayor recommendation. Sounds like a good writer!


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