Cover image for The marble mask
Title:
The marble mask
Author:
Mayor, Archer.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Mysterious Press, [2000]

©2000
Physical Description:
309 pages ; 24 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780892967230
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A frozen body is found on top of Vermont's tallest mountain in the middle of winter. Lost hiker? Foul play? Hard to tell until the marble-hard body is thawed out. There are a couple of odd things about it right off the bat, though. A hand and a foot have been broken off, as if from a great fall, and the body's clothing looks oddly old-fashioned.

The autopsy reveals an ice-pick wound to the heart, a Canadian driver's license dating back to just after World War Two, and that fact that the body's been dead & frozen for over fifty years.

The body is Jean Deschamps, an old-time smuggler from Sherbrooke, Quebec, who made a fortune during the war as an industrialist. His son Michel, now dying of cancer, has run the crime-family business since his father's disappearance. Both the Hell's Angels and the Montreal-based Rock Machine are interested in taking over the Deschamps turf. Was the evidence suggesting that Michel killed his own father a plant by those two factions? Indications are that Jean believed his older son, Antoine, had been murdered in the Italian campaign during the war, and not killed in combat as reported. And there are rumors a priceless marble mask by Michaelangelo also vanished around the same time, never to be seen again and that one of Antoine's fellow combatants is now a wealthy recluse in Stowe.

Joe and his brand new Vermont Bureau of Investigation team, including Sam and Willy, set out to solve these riddles amid an increasingly dangerous political intrigue involving cops and crooks on both sides of the border.


Author Notes

Archer Mayor lives in Newfane, Vermont.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Detective Joe Gunther has left the Brattleboro Police Department to become field commander of the newly formed Vermont Bureau of Investigation. The VBI's role is to serve as a major-crimes unit for the state's many small police forces, but the realpolitik of law enforcement means that the state police see the new guys as interlopers. Success on their first case, therefore, is crucial, but the case is a doozy. A 50-year-old corpse is found frozen stiff on top of a mountain in Stowe. The stiff is so stiff that the feet appear to have broken off the body when the corpse was dropped from an airplane. Gunther's team quickly identifies the body as a Quebec crime boss who disappeared in 1947, but Gunther suspects he's being led by the nose. Fans of this series may be briefly disappointed by Gunther's departure from Brattleboro, which Mayor evoked so vividly in the earlier novels. But the broader turf serves only to energize what was already an outstanding series. Thomas Gaughan


Publisher's Weekly Review

A new appointment for police detective Joe Gunther of Brattleboro as field commander of the newly formed Vermont Bureau of Investigation gives his 11th appearance (following Occam's Razor) broader scope in this fine procedural series. Designed to be "a small, elite unit" composed of the cream from Vermont's 68 separate law enforcement agencies, the VBI exists only on paper until the frozen body of a hiker is found on Mt. Mansfield. The "hiker," Jean Deschamps of Sherbrooke, Quebec, turns out to be a very unusual homicide victim. His body appears to have been on iceÄliterallyÄsince his murder in 1947. Gunther quickly assembles his first ad hoc team, which includes old colleagues Sammie Martens and Willy Kunkle, as well as newcomers Paul Spraiger and Tom Shanklin. And since Deschamps was Canadian, liaison with Canadian law enforcement is also necessary. Deschamps was head of a notorious crime family in Sherbrooke until his unexplained disappearance in 1947. His reappearance threatens to disrupt a fragile peace between that family, now headed by Deschamps's son, Marcel, and the Sherbrooke Hells Angels. Combining fieldwork (including a dangerous mountainside search) and dogged digging, the team delves into ancient rivalries and murders with roots going back to WWII, but threatening to erupt into fresh violence. This is a thoroughly entertaining police proceduralÄimaginatively conceived and executed with the polish Mayor has honed over the life of the series. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Excerpts

Excerpts

"Joe. You still there? Talk to me, buddy." I didn't open my eyes. It was so dark I felt if I did, more light might fall out than enter, sapping what little energy I had left. I remembered having the same sensation once as a kid, when my brother Leo and I had hidden in one of my father's grain boxes in the barn, closed the cover over us and shut out all light and air. Lack of oxygen wasn't the issue, though-we were out of there, pale and laughing too loudly, long before suffocation became a threat. It was darkness that had defeated us-invasive, all absorbing, reaching in through our wide open eyes to extract whatever was keeping us alive. Squeezing my lids shut had been like hanging onto a cliff edge with my fingertips. Which paradoxically made me wonder if suffocation could be a problem here, entombed as I was. Certainly I felt sleepy, which I'd heard was one of the signs, but then that counted for cold, too, and God knows I was cold. "Joe? We need to know if you're still okay. Give us an indicator at least-hit the transmit button a couple of times if you don't feel like talking." I really didn't. I was talked out-talking to them, talking to myself. I wasn't even sure where the radio was anymore. I'd shoved it under my coat when I'd pulled my arms out of the sleeves to turn my parka into a thermal straight jacket and better preserve my body heat. Besides, assuming I could find it, I doubted my fingers could operate the damn thing. That was probably why they'd told me to just hit the transmit button-they were guessing I was almost gone. I thought about that for a moment, which was no mean feat in itself. My mind had been wandering for hours, easily bringing up images of my parents, life on the farm, Leo, times during combat I'd thought were the coldest a man could endure. Until tonight. But pondering the here and now was both a challenge and a bore-an impediment to more pleasant things. The vague memory that I hadn't lost the radio at all, but was still holding it in a numb and senseless hand, barely caused a flicker of concern. I was far too busy leafing through my life's album, evoking sunny, warm, open places. And pictures of Gail. I saw her above me, straddling my hips as I lay on the floor, her eyes narrowed, her mouth open just slightly. There was a faint shimmer of sweat on her upper lip as she raised her arms slowly, smoothly, and stripped off her T-shirt. "Joe? It's Willy. Hang in there, pal. You croak, they'll nail me for sure. Don't be so goddamned self-centered." What a guy, I thought-always the right word at the right time. What must his parents have been like? I tried retrieving that last image of just seconds ago, remembering only that it had been of something pleasant and warm. I was beginning to feel warm again myself, in fact. At long last. "Won't be too much longer," Willy resumed. "They say the storm's almost over-at least enough to try another sortie. Give us some kind of signal, though, will you? This playing coy shit is driving me nuts." He'd always been an impatient man-always in a hurry and with nowhere to go. Not like Sammie, for example, equally driven but headed straight up the professional ladder. Gail was ambitious, too, although a lot more complicated-one of the reasons we no longer lived together. Not that the love could be diminished-no matter the test. I furrowed my brow, or thought I did. Sam and Willy and Gail and I were becoming blurred in my mind. Maybe there were similarities I'd never glimpsed before-he and I sort of stuck in our ways, the two women either using us as anchors, or fighting the pull of our inertia. Surely there had to be more to it than that. The radio spoke again, sounding like the last man to enter a noisy, crowded room-too far off to be understood. And I had too much to ponder anyway. Let it go, I thought. Let me be. Excerpted from The Marble Mask by Archer Mayor All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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