Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Open Season (Joe Gunther #1)” as Want to Read:
Open Season (Joe Gunther #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Open Season (Joe Gunther #1)

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  2,841 Ratings  ·  247 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
Published January 1st 2007 by Ampress (first published 1988)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Open Season, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Open Season

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Kirsten *Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again!"
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 17, 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
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.
Rhonda Irving
Aug 18, 2012 Rhonda Irving rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Harry Lane
Nov 14, 2016 Harry Lane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am fan of this series. The books read so far have been almost unputdownable. Characters are three dimensional, their actions believable, the descriptions of the tensions between various parts of the community completely consistent with what is observable in many situations. Finally, the evocaions of the setting are outstanding.

I came to this first book of the series late, after reading a number of others. Joe is called the to scene of a shotgun slaying of an intruder. What seems a simple case
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 02, 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
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
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
Feb 18, 2012 Ensiform rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
May 26, 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
May 15, 2012 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Oct 25, 2012 sarg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Was a good read the author was very good in describing scenes and the foibles of his characters. The plot was a little complicated and for me not as believable. Generally it is an irate father out to kill the person who impregnited and killed his daughter. Another (innocent) Person has been convictied of the crime, and it gets into exCIA father out to get the real killer. Thats more than you need to know.
Apr 05, 2015 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, mysteries, owned
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!
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!
Jul 04, 2010 Kay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good, down to earth mystery with characters you like and an interesting location. I want to read more.
Nancy H
Aug 31, 2011 Nancy H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Excellent, complex mystery with interesting characters — particularly the protag. I'm impressed by the progressive attitudes and relative lack of offensive (by modern standards) racial, sexist, and homophobic slurs, particularly considering the book was written in the 1980s. Definitely checking out the rest of the series.

Content warnings: (view spoiler)
Feb 04, 2017 Joanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this very much! Working in a Vermont Barnes and Noble I had lodged Archer Mayor very firmly on a "local authors" bookshelf and never considered reading his books. Which is, really, kind of crazy. Anyway, I'm glad my dad finally convinced me to start, because now I have a whole series full of them waiting for me! This first installment introduces us to Joe Gunther but doesn't spend a ton of time on backstory, just sweeps us right up into an unusual case with lots of twisty elements and ...more
Jan 05, 2017 Linda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Open season

This book was really stupid. Mr. Mayor made his characters witless idiots. He should do more research on the police procedural before writing about them. I will not be reading anything more from this author.
lisa riggins
Feb 17, 2017 lisa riggins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great read

Captivating from beginning to end...the author set the tone and ran a good race til the end..I wanted more Bravo
Karen Gibb
It was ok.

It was not my usual book but anyone who likes police stories might like it. It did feel like something that could be made into an evening TV drama.
Susan Ryan
Dec 21, 2016 Susan Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed a fresh plot. I found it interesting and well written.
Hey, it’s Vermont. Slow is the tempo. Joe Gunther and Gail Zigman’s tryst sets the pace. However, in the end, a snowmobile chase substituting for the mandatory car chase does add some zip. Do not give up on Archer Mayor. This series improves over time.
Oct 12, 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
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
Malcolm Thomson
Oct 29, 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
Doug Gillan
Sep 10, 2016 Doug Gillan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Open Season is as good a first novel in a series as I have read, at least in a long time. I cared about Joe Ginther, the main character, and the others in the town of Brattleboro, VT. I read the book as I was vacationing near Brattle boro, which made it even more fun, but I would have enjoyed the book anyway. The plot moved quickly, and I was caught up in it from the start. Archer Mayor's writing is much better than most genre writers. I would put it on a par with the best current mystery writer ...more
Oct 07, 2016 Bill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Open Season by Archer Mayor is the first book in the Lt Joe Gunther crime series. It was initially published in 1988. Gunther is a police lieutenant in Vermont. He quickly gets involved in a number of strange incidents, including the murder or a house intruder. They seem to relate back to a murder case that occurred 3 years previously. The people involved were, so far, jurors in the case.

Gunther takes on the case and has difficulties persuading his superiors that the case is related to the trial
Dec 14, 2012 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Dark Reckoning
  • Deadly Stillwater (McRyan Mystery Series, #2)
  • Mad Money
  • Motion To Kill (Lou Mason, Mystery #1)
  • The Long Midnight Of Barney Thomson (Barney Thomson, #1)
  • The Prophet Motive
  • Running of the Bulls (Fifth Avenue #2)
  • Fire And Ice (Liam Campbell, #1)
  • Absolution (Frank Renzi, #1)
  • Irrefutable
  • Back on Murder (A Roland March Mystery, #1)
  • Dead Air (Sammy Greene, #1)
  • A Real Piece of Work  (Dakota Stevens, #1)
  • Kane
  • Resuscitation (Sam Rizzo #2)
  • Never Buried (Leigh Koslow Mystery #1)
  • The Truant Officer
  • Dark Horse (Jim Knighthorse, #1)
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)

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“hill.” 0 likes
“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
More quotes…