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Open Season (Joe Gunther #1)
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Open Season (Joe Gunther #1)

3.74 of 5 stars 3.74  ·  rating details  ·  1,835 ratings  ·  179 reviews
It was the shot that shook the town of Brattleboro, Vermont. Jamie Phillips had dropped in on Thelma Reitz, only to have that staid old lady blow his head off with a shotgun. Jamie's atomized neck was enough to make even the most hardened cop wince. — Obviously a setup, thinks Detective Joe Gunther, but the crime soon takes on even more shocking dimensions. First, Gunther ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published December 1st 1994 by Mysterious Press (first published 1988)
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Darrell Delamaide
Archer Mayor's police procedural featuring Joe Gunther has a lot going for it, so it took me a while to figure out why it was taking me so long to read it.

Here's what it has: A good, original plot, with some odd twists and turns; a wonderful sense of place in Brattleboro, Vermont; a sympathetic, well-drawn protagonist who narrates in first person with a distinctive voice; a great climax that really does, finally, keep you turning the pages.

After some reflection, I could put my finger on a couple
Rhonda Irving
I don't know if a new series to collect is good or bad as my 'wish list' is already two miles long, but I enjoyed Open Season so much that the entire series is a 'must have' instead of just a wish.

I loved this book. It was very well written and fast moving. The scenes were so beautifully drawn, I felt I could see the landscapes, the buildings, highways, vehicles, all of it. The characters were well developed and believable, though not all were likeable. Mr. Mayer has the ability to draw his char
Sharon Michael
This was a free download and my first book by this author. I found the plot well crafted, the progression reasonable and the small town politics all too believable.

I would like to have had more connection with the characters. While they weren't stock characters, I found myself wanting to actually like them better than I did.

While this is not a series I will buy to read/keep and re-read, my local library does have several by this author and I liked this book well enough to look for more there.
Kirsty Darbyshire

[I read this for a mailing list discussion and these comments are taken from that discussion; which means that they are out of context and contain spoilers.]

[on the timing]

I only got hold of the book from the library a couple of days ago - just when I thought I was going to have to miss out on the discussion entirely - so I'm only 50 odd pages into it so far which is a bit soon to start answering questions. I just wanted to say that the age thing had me confused too, even setting my mental clo

I don't know if a new series to collect is good or bad as my 'wish list' is already two miles long, but I enjoyed Open Season so much that the entire series is a 'must have' instead of just a wish.

I loved this book. It was very well written and fast moving. The scenes were so beautifully drawn, I felt I could see the landscapes, the buildings, highways, vehicles, all of it. The characters were well developed and believable, though not all were likeable. Mr. Mayer has the ability to draw his char
Very satisfying opener to a series featuring Detective Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro Police. An elderly woman shooting a man over a fake dognapping results in Gunther uncovering that they both were members of a jury that convicted a black janitor of a woman�s murder three years ago. A series of dirty tricks by a ski-masked man framing other members of the jury leads him to look both for the correct murderer and the persistent and increasingly dangerous suspect with a grudge. The pressure on goo ...more
When a series of elaborate frame-ups plague the Vermont town of Brattleboro, police lieutenant Joe Gunther is forced to open up a long-closed case, much to the consternation of his fellow officers. Walking a tightrope between his superiors, the press, and the brilliant, twisted genius behind the crimes, Gunther investigates the three-year-old rape-murder case, but every new development just increases the mystery --- and the danger, as he is harassed, followed, and attacked.

This is a superb myste
Open Season is a mystery/armchair thriller featuring a middle aged & widowed detective, Joe Gunther. The story is told in the first person, which definitely makes for a boring and slow read. The author focused so much on telling Joe's life story (and the life stories of everyone he knows,) that the actual plot was an afterthought. Even then, the mystery plot was so twisted and bizarre that I could not force myself to keep reading.

I should of known after reading the author's note at the begi

I found this to be one of the best police procedurals I've read in a very long time. Joe Gunther is middle aged and a widower in a small Vermont city. He is a Police Lieutenant there and somewhat ready to move into more administrative areas of policing. There are a series of crimes, all committed by a man in black with a ski mask on, that lead him to a cold case murder where a black man has already been convicted. The more he learns, the more he questions everything about the first murder. He n
Open Season is a fast-paced, intriguing story of a man who accidentally stumbles upon a potentially devastating secret.

It's not quite a crime novel; there isn't enough information to start with to give the reader any potential suspects, and it's made pretty clear that Davis is more or less innocent and that Ski Mask isn't the key to unlocking it all. It seemed like a bit of a genre-mash. You've got the Thriller element in the threats against Joe, obviously the whole plot revolves around Crime a
Malcolm Thomson
I had my sister to thank for the suggestion that I might find the Joe Gunther series to my liking. She knows well that I am addicted to 'seriality', never happier than when I can binge-read one book after another. remaining in the company of 'novel-inhabiting persons' who over time become... if not friends... at the very least familiar acquaintances.

Mayor Archer introduces us to his protagonist in the depths of a Vermont winter. The agonizing cold and the white-out blizzards assume almost the ro
Ken Doggett
This was Archer Mayor's first novel, although he had written a couple of history texts before this, and for a first effort I found it outstanding. I had already read "Borderlines," the second novel in the Joe Gunther series, and liked it well enough to come back and see how it all started. For me it was a page turner from the first, kept me reading to the end, and although I found both the ending and the guy called "Ski-Mask" just a tad unrealistic, neither were really disappointing. Some review ...more
Nancy Windfelder
This is not really a review of one book but of the Joe Gunther series. I started to read Archer Mayer because he was a local Vermont author and my family has a home just south of Rutland. What a pleasure it was to discover a series of books that not only were set in my most favorite State, but were good mysteries with a great protagonist - Joe Gunther. Joe is a believable character and the interactions of law enforcement entities is accurately portrayed (feds vs staties vs muni's vs task forces) ...more
Jeff Dickison
The first in the Joe Gunther series and, of the ones I have read, the best. Well written, good plot, lots of action; what's to want for? Recommended!
Nancy H
I really enjoyed this mystery. It had good characters, good plot, and a good setting. I am eager to read more of Archer Mayor's books.
Interesting small town background with an interesting protagonist. The story starts strong, but the side characters lack interest and the superman avenger character is sort of a worn out literary cliché. I don't normally find this type of character believable and it really detracts from a police procedural because in my opinion, in order to be successful, a police procedural needs to be highly believable.

On the other hand, it was the writers first story and it was interesting enough to give the
A good, down to earth mystery with characters you like and an interesting location. I want to read more.
"Open Season" starts with a bang and doesn't let up until the entire mystery is complete. Lt. Joe Gunther is an aging detective in Brattleboro,VT. He is called out to a shooting in the middle of the night. When it comes out the the "killer" knows the victim, Gunther knows something odd is going on. When other crimes start happening involving a common group of people, coincidences can't be ignored. Gunther takes the track that all of the victims are victims because of their mutual past.

I really e
Joan Reeves
Compelling Premise Keeps You Guessing

I'm finally back in the office, with a humorous romance to finish writing and lots of recently-read books to review. (There's nothing like hospitals and doctor waiting rooms to give one time to read.) First up is Open Season, Joe Gunther Mystery #1, by Archer Mayor.

The first of Archer Mayor’s 23 Joe Gunther novels was originally published in 1988 by Putnam, and it is now available for Kindle. Set in that year when there were no computers, cell phones, or soc
Actually a 3-, maybe close to a 2. This is the first book in a popular series with good characters and plot development good enough that I gasped several times.

But then I had to start subtracting points. First, there is the matter of personal taste; it was a bit "grittier" than I had expected. When the first scene includes cruelty to animals, I would not normally continue except that a good friend thinks this is a wonderful series, and I trust her judgment (usually). And there was some rough se
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
This was the second book I read on Kindle Lending Library that I hadn't heard of before, but seemed popular as Amazon put it. I have learned my lesson. This was a really pedestrian mystery with a supervillain who is always popping right before or after the narrator. The scenes of negotiation between police and press, police and local government, police and other police departments, and policemen and policemen (no policewomen - the women are all secretaries, thank you very much) were tedious and ...more
This first in the Joe Gunther series started out strong with an interesting premise despite some fairly weak characterizations. By the middle of the book the story began to stall and it was downhill until the end. Normally I would have discarded the book but I was curious to see who the masked man was and how Gunther would solve the case. Vermont in the winter can be brutally cold but no amount of heat could have revived this novel.
joseph R. Hylton
so-so read

Borderlines by Archer Mayor was interesting but I put it down several times during my read because it didn't hold my attention like I would have preferred. The antagonist seemed a little too far fetched and the suspense too contrived like Mr. Mayor was reaching for it. For strict police drama enthusiasts this book would suit well but for this science fiction first reader it couldn't captivate my imagination.
The book was good enough to hold my interest and kept me entertained. The ending was a bit flat after so much character building for "Ski Mask".

The only real critic with the writing style is the use of first name and last name interchangeably. It was like a memory test and you gotta double your cognitive capacity to digest the plot and figure out who's who in the zoo.

I would give it 3.5. But feeling generous so I round it up.
c1988: FWFTB: detective, Vermont, shooting, co-jurors, trial. This was a nice surprise. A character driven police procedural with a great plot to boot. I really liked the main character of Joe Gunther and the locale and weather was described beautifully. There were some lovely sentences/thoughts eg. This one describing his relationship with Gail Zigman "We were a perfect match, both too old and too self-centered to change our ways."; about his own solitary life, "With a world weary sight - alway ...more
The first book in the Joe Gunther series and I will definitely be reading more of the series. Very believable characters who are well developed. I saw one review that said there were too many characters, but as this is a series I expect that we will see more of all of them. The relationship with the press is just as complex as it continues to be in real life. If you enjoy mystery series, you will like this one.
First time reading this series or author. Beginning started off slow to me (not sure that was because I was busy the first day I picked it up and my mind was preoccupied). Shortly into it however I was impressed with how all the characters tied together and was left guessing all the up to the last few chapters. I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
Cara Correll
This book was a thrilling cat and mouse tale. You never knew! It was very gripping and was a great read. This book was similar to mixing Castle, Mentalist, CSI, and Criminal Minds all together with a twist of Michael Connelly! I absolutely loved this book and am looking forward to reading the many others put out there by this author.
It's probably good that I read another in this series first because had I started with this one, I probably would have read no more by this author. At least not in this series.

I found this one to drag. I wasn't fond of any of the characters but I was sad to see one particular character die. I would not have been any sadder though had that character been Gunther himself.

Shallow characters. His relationship with Gail is one-dimensional. What woman in her right mind would be in a relationship with
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Over the years, Archer Mayor has been photographer, teacher, historian, scholarly editor, feature writer, travel writer, lab technician, political advance man, medical illustrator, newspaper writer, history researcher, publications consultant, constable, and EMT/firefighter. He is also half Argentine, speaks two languages, and has lived in several countries on two continents.

All of which makes mak
More about Archer Mayor...

Other Books in the Series

Joe Gunther (1 - 10 of 25 books)
  • Borderlines (Joe Gunther #2)
  • Scent of Evil (Joe Gunther #3)
  • The Skeleton's Knee (Joe Gunther #4)
  • Fruits of the Poisonous Tree (Joe Gunther #5)
  • The Dark Root  (Joe Gunther #6)
  • The Ragman's Memory (Joe Gunther #7)
  • Bellows Falls (Joe Gunther #8)
  • The Disposable Man (Joe Gunther #9)
  • Occam's Razor (Joe Gunther #10)
  • The Marble Mask (Joe Gunther #11)
Borderlines (Joe Gunther #2) The Skeleton's Knee (Joe Gunther #4) Scent of Evil (Joe Gunther #3) Tag Man (Joe Gunther #22) The Sniper's Wife (Joe Gunther #13)

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“A secretor is somebody whose blood type appears in his or her body fluids as well as in the blood itself—handy if all you’ve got is a sweaty shirt or, as in this case, semen. A nonsecretor’s blood type can only be ascertained through the blood.” 0 likes
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