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Open Season

(Joe Gunther #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  3,825 ratings  ·  350 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
Kindle Edition, 313 pages
Published November 10th 2011 by Gere Donovan Press (first published 1988)
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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,825 ratings  ·  350 reviews

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James Thane
This is the novel that introduced Vermont detective Joe Gunther, the lead character in a series by Archer Mayor that has now reached twenty-nine books and counting. When we first meet Gunther, he's a detective on the Brattleboro, Vermont P.D. He has bigger things ahead of him, but for now he's assigned to investigate a rare murder in a town that hardly ever sees one.

The victim is a man named Jamie Phillips who has walked into the home of an elderly woman in the dead of night. The woman has been
Koen Kop
So afraid it would happen ... and it did: up till page 267 I was riveted, by the superb story-telling, the literary magnitude of many descriptions*, the whim and witticism°- five stars, and then came the denouement: a total let-down, leaving many questions unanswered (f.i., how did Ski Mask manage to be one-up on the police throughout the novel, who was his informant or other mysterious source?), providing no credible motive for the principal murder - an unpardonable offense for any murder myste ...more
Set in Brattleboro, Vermont, Open Season is the first in Archer Mayor's Joe Gunther series of police procedurals. Gunther is the prototype of the veteran detective: battle-scarred, solitary but not antisocial, and dogged. Gunther's character, perhaps because it's the first in the series, is lightly drawn. The plot wasn't entirely predictable, but it wasn't difficult to piece together how the crime would be solved. I'd be curious to see how and to what extent the locale plays in subsequent novels ...more
Kirsten #EnoughIsEnough
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.
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
Mar 17, 2016 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
Gail Sealey
May 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun to read references to Vermont. The detective Gunther is a great character. Mayor writes a great story. Fun read.
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When every rock you look under conceals more old, unanswered questions, what do you do? There were a lot of rocks, but I enjoyed the story and recommend the book.
Nov 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Because of my obsession with reading series books in sequence, I waited for months for the library to acquire this first-in-the “Joe Gunther” series. It was worth the wait. Archer Mayor was a new author for me, and he writes about small-town police in Vermont. Such a small town, Brattleboro, Vermont, is experiencing one murder after another. They are not just murders, but several are staged to attract attention. This is an exciting police mystery—somewhat bloody, but keeps you guessing how Lt. J ...more
Apr 17, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good solid opener for a police series set in Vermont. A little too much detail in the seamier side of things, but good characters and strong setting. Will read another in this series for sure.
Steve Gross
First in a lengthy series featuring Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, VT police. Nice writing.
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meat and potatoes for the crime fiction/police procedural fan. This book has good character development, an original plot and a great sense of place (Brattleboro, VT.). It was first published in 1988, the first in a long series that I somehow missed up to this point, but I will look forward to more.
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
Liked it very much. My first in the series, and I hope to read them all in order (that will take a while)! Interesting story, some good characters, different environment from the norm. My thanks to JT for the review which got me started. I don’t think I had ever heard of this series, and it has an amazing number of books!
Susan Elizabetha
Highly recommend this book and others in the series about Joe Gunther as police officer in Brattleboro, Vermont.
Jerry B
That author Archer Mayor’s small-town Vermont Detective Joe Gunther series now numbers at 29 (with no end in sight) obviously speaks to the popularity of these police procedurals. “Open Season” (1988) herein is the debut novel of both the author and the set. An interesting plot surrounding a marauder working his way through the jury members of a three-year-old trial of a murdered woman, with the dubious outcome of a man imprisoned with loose ends galore, was both suspenseful and entertaining. As ...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
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.
Judy Lesley
I recently came across an article that mentioned Lieutenant Joe Gunther as the protagonist in a long running series and I was interested enough to go check the books out. Liking what I saw led me to putting the first book on my Paperwhite. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story.

I read quite a number of thriller novels and this one made me feel intrigued and interested immediately. Joe Gunther is a likeable character and I appreciate the way he worked with his colleagues in the small Vermont tow
Michael crage
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book was well plotted. I like the central character. But the writing was not as sharp as some of the other authers of mystery/crime books, so I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. Since this was the first book of the series, I am hoping his writing improves in the future Joe Gunther series novels. The book was good enough that I will be reading some more of the series.
Susan Grace
Nov 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a Goodreads recommendation. Good beginning to a series I will continue with. Thanks Goodreads!
Rhonda Irving
Aug 18, 2012 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
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was probably a 3.5, rounded down due to a few flaws. Essentially, this book tics all the basic murder/mystery/police procedural style boxes and has a pretty interesting plot, though fairly easily guessed prior to the ending. Two things held this back for me; one, it moved too slowly, or was 100 pages longer than needed. Two, I just couldn't connect with the protagonist, Joe Gunther, or any of the ancillary characters. They were a bit stereotyped and hollow, each possessing the predictable c ...more
Feb 18, 2012 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
Harry Lane
Nov 14, 2016 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
Apr 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 A good, solid police procedural. I look forward to reading more in this series and getting to know the characters.
Adrienne Olejnik
Standard police procedural that was very well done- especially for the first book in the series. Definitely will read more!
Sep 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Easy book to listen to. I like these types of books when I am out walking or trying to fall back to sleep.
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

Jack Heath
Mar 27, 2019 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: category-mystery
Synopsis: Lt. Gunther of the Brattleboro police has a problem: in a quiet community, the body count is suddenly mounting. Is it that old trial?
Jan 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First Gunther novel. Has a lot going for it. Looking forward to future books in the series. Spenser-ish in a lot of good ways. Set in the northeast with a detective who is pretty self-aware. Overall pretty fun. Dialogue doesn't crackle like Spenser, but who knows in the future. Solid plotting and interesting storyline.
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Play Book Tag: Open Season by Archer Mayor 4 stars 2 11 Feb 03, 2019 04:48AM  

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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

Other books in the series

Joe Gunther (1 - 10 of 30 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)
“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
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