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Open Season (Joe Gunther #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,570 Ratings  ·  225 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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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
Wow! What an incredible first novel. I'd never tried this author. I decided to try it because Three Can Keep a Secret (Joe Gunther #24) was nominated for the 2014 Nero Award. Am I glad I did!

This had a great plot and some incredible action! It was intelligent and had some appealing characters. I really enjoyed it and can't wait to move on to Book #2.
Mar 29, 2016 Thomas rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-rural-crime
This murder mystery starts out with a bang. An old lady kills an intruder with a shotgun, in Brattleboro, Vermont. This type of crime is rare in Brattleboro and then Detective Joe Gunther finds out that it was a setup. More strange crimes happen and they all have one thing in common: All of the victims served on the same jury. Detective Gunther does solve who is orchestrating the crimes, but not before more people die. He must reopen the murder case of the man that the jury convicted. When he do ...more
Rhonda Irving
Aug 18, 2012 Rhonda Irving rated it it was amazing
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
May 11, 2012 Sharon Michael rated it liked it
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.
Grady McCallie
This is the first Joe Gunther mystery, start to a now very long series, but the characteristic features are here: Gunther himself, of course, as a likable, understated, but really smart detective; but also, quirky secondary characters; an extraordinarily tangled plot, in which Gunther is on the wrong track for a while before suddenly tumbling to the solution in a rush at the end; and a bizarre amount of bloodshed along the way. It was fun, although it's now blurring together with other books in ...more
Nov 12, 2015 Stuart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this, the first Joe Gunther mystery. (and the second one I have read). I picked it up primarily for the location (Vermont) but I stayed because it is an action-packed story that never flags. I thought the plot was quite original - someone is killing (or at least setting up) the members of a jury who convicted a man a while ago, presumably with a view to having the case reopened. The case was sensational at the time, and reopening it will cause heads to roll, both among police an ...more
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 c

Oct 06, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it
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 womans 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 good ...more
Feb 18, 2012 Ensiform rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, mystery
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
Apr 07, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I both read the Kindle ebook and listened to the Whispersync audiobook of this first book in the Joe Gunther series. This police procedural was a bit grittier than my normal mystery reading but I liked Gunther and the Vermont setting. I will be reading more from this series!
May 30, 2012 Meg rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 11, 2012 Joyce rated it really liked it

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
Jan 19, 2016 Olivermagnus rated it liked it
This is the first in a series featuring Joe Gunther, a police lieutenant in Brattleboro, Vermont. The storyline in Open Season is interesting and well written. The details kept the flow of the book going and built up the plot right to the end.

The book begins when someone wearing a ski mask is setting up crimes using jurors from a case in which a black janitor is accused and found guilty of the murder of a young woman living in the building he maintains. Soon it appears that the janitor was also
Feb 22, 2015 Garrett rated it liked it
I'm a fan of Ian Rankin's books, specifically his John Rebus series, and because of that, Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther was recommended to me.

I liked this book, though it has some shortcomings; it's very grounded in the procedure of 1988 and it feels a little formulaic, but that could be because of the time in which it was written and published. Gunther as a main character is multi-layered and somewhat unpredictable, with an unusual family and romantic situation, and the villian of this thing was g
Oct 16, 2015 Lyndon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A masked menace gets the attention of Joe Gunther, a small town detective in rural Vermont (or New Hampshire, I can't remember...some place up in northern New England, as the setting sort of covered a bit of territory and while the winter weather was nicely described, the locale just didn't make an impression on me, I guess). Through a series of dangerous encounters, Gunther starts to connect the dots regarding the murder of a woman whose case is closed and her alleged murderer is behind bars. A ...more
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
Nov 17, 2014 Malcolm Thomson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 06, 2014 Ken Doggett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 13, 2014 Nancy Windfelder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 17, 2015 Jan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having worked alongside cops since the 80's, and living in the northern climes, I can certainly relate. Those who cannot accept that so many things were different then will not be able to appreciate the Gunther series any more than they would any other novel set in an earlier time frame. But for those of us with a history and/or imagination, it is great. The characterizations and plot development are solid and clear. Plot twists add to the overall realism. A fine and compelling piece of work.
Jeff Dickison
Nov 02, 2011 Jeff Dickison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 31, 2011 Nancy H rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2010 Kay rated it really liked it
A good, down to earth mystery with characters you like and an interesting location. I want to read more.
Jan 31, 2015 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satisfying read, plot twists galore, murders fueled by greed and revenge; small town politics and newspaper reporters hold more power than the police can buck up against as they try to unravel the many false trails presented. A previously solved three-year old murder case is reopened, due to a villain's persistence of seeking vigilante justice in unique ways. Well-developed characters and intriguing circumstances. Plenty of DNA, but how did it all become parts of the crime scene? Read to discove ...more
Dec 14, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it
"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
Jun 23, 2013 Joan Reeves rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mystery-thriller
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
Nov 19, 2013 Angie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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 27 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)

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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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