Archer Mayor is the American author behind the bestselling Joe Gunther series.
These nail-biting detective stories feel terrifyingly real, and it’s no wonder. Mayor was once a detective himself. And these days, when he’s not penning his popular novels, he works as a death investigator for Vermont’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.
And so, this critically acclaimed author has drawn upon his real-life experience to create one of the most heart-pounding crime thriller series of all time.
The New York Times has called Mayor “one of the most sophisticated stylists in the genre,” and the Chicago Tribune described his books as “the best police procedurals being written in America.”
So, if mystery and crime thrillers are your thing, then you won’t want to miss Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther series.
Archer Mayor’s Books in Order
Archer Mayor has written thirty-three novels, two short stories, and one non-fiction book. Below, I’ll list them all in reading and publication order.
|Sr. No.||Title||Publication Date||Print Length||Publisher||Where to Buy|
|1||Open Season||September 9, 1988||319 pages||Putnam Adult||Amazon|
|2||Borderlines||October 30, 1990||253 pages||Putnam Adult||Amazon|
|3||Scent of Evil||January 1, 1992||360 pages||Mysterious Press||Amazon|
|4||The Skeleton’s Knee||January 1, 1993||311 pages||Mysterious Pr||Amazon|
|5||Fruits of the Poisonous Tree||January 1, 2007||262 pages||AMPress||Amazon|
|6||The Dark Root||January 1, 2007||310 pages||AMPress||Amazon|
|7||The Ragman’s Memory||January 1, 2007||278 pages||AMPress||Amazon|
|8||Bellows Falls||January 1, 2007||242 pages||AMPress||Amazon|
|9||The Disposable Man||January 1, 1998||294 pages||Mysterious Pr||Amazon|
|10||Occam’s Razor||November 1, 1999||352 pages||Mysterious Press||Amazon|
|11||The Marble Mask||October 1, 2000||309 pages||Mysterious Pr||Amazon|
|12||Tucker Peak||November 12, 2001||320 pages||Mysterious Press||Amazon|
|13||The Sniper’s Wife||January 1, 2007||312 pages||AMPress||Amazon|
|14||Gatekeeper||January 1, 2010||216 pages||AMPress||Amazon|
|15||Archer Mayor’s Non-Fiction Book||September 1, 1988||288 pages||University of Georgia Press||Amazon|
The Joe Gunther Novels
Joe Gunther is an army veteran turned police investigator who lives and works in Brattleboro, Vermont. His calm and rational approach to justice and his years on the battlefield make him one of the most formidable detectives in New England.
Each novel in the Joe Gunther series tells a separate story, but the characters evolve and intertwine with each new book. So, to get the most out of the series, it’s best to read these books in the order they were published, listed below.
1. Open Season (1988)
In the usually sleepy town of Brattleboro, Vermont, a dangerous criminal is on the loose.
As the body count continues to rise, Lt. Joe Gunther connects the dots to a three-year-old murder trial. But the police department is determined to keep the case closed, and Gunther will have his work cut out for him if he’s going to uncover the truth.
2. Borderlines (1990)
Lt. Joe Gunther is called to his old stomping ground in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont to investigate a minor case. It’s an unusually easy assignment, but the respite doesn’t last long.
Suddenly, Gunther finds himself embroiled in a dark web of secrets that spell murder.
3. Scent of Evil (1991)
A young stockbroker has been found dead, and all signs point to a revenge attack by a local policeman.
But the killer is one step ahead, and Lt. Joe Gunther will have to move fast to stop the body count from rising further.
4. The Skeleton’s Knee (1992)
When a corpse is unearthed in a garden, Lt. Joe Gunther is tasked with reopening a decades-old murder case. But someone will do anything to ensure the secrets of the past remain buried.
5. Fruits of the Poisonous Tree (1993)
Joe Gunther’s long-time friend, Gail Zigman, has been raped. And now, amidst a media firestorm, he must pick apart the evidence to catch the man who did it.
The suspect seems obvious, but Gunther has a sneaking suspicion there’s more to this case than meets the eye.
6. The Dark Root (1994)
Brutal home invaders have targeted the Asian community of Battleboro, but in the aftermath, no one is willing to talk.
Still, that doesn’t stop Lt. Joe Gunther from digging into the case. But his investigations reveal secrets of an international underground smuggling operation with a deadly agenda.
7. The Ragman’s Memory (1995)
A World War II veteran known as “The Ragman” holds the key to a grizzly murder case. But The Ragman is refusing to talk, and it’s a race against time for Joe to prise the answers from him before anyone else dies.
8. Bellows Falls (1996)
Lt. Joe Gunther is investigating a seemingly open and shut harassment case in the neighboring town of Bellows Falls.
But he soon uncovers a state-wide drug trafficking network, and one of the local officers has gotten a little too involved.
9. The Disposable Man (1997)
A strangled body has been discovered in a local quarry, and all evidence points to a Russian mafia killing.
The CIA steps in, and soon, Gunther is entangled in a dark and twisted web of secrets and lies. And the more he pushes for the truth, the more danger he’s in.
10. Occam’s Razor (1999)
The decapitated body of a homeless man has been discovered on the railroad tracks. But is the victim who he appears to be? Lt. Joe Gunther doesn’t think so.
11. The Marble Mask (2000)
Joe Gunther is leading the new state-wide joint task force, the Vermont Bureau of Investigation (VBI), and he’s thrown straight into the deep end with the very first case.
A 50-year-old frozen corpse has been discovered on Mt. Mansfield, and Gunther and his team must cross borders and travel back in time to unearth the truth about the man’s death.
12. Tucker Peak (2001)
Lt. Joe Gunther and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are digging for clues after a spate of burglaries at a high-class ski resort.
But just when they think they’ve found the perpetrator, he vanishes, and his girlfriend turns up dead.
13. The Sniper’s Wife (2002)
Gunther’s fellow detective, Willy Kunkle, has been summoned to New York’s Lower East Side to identify the body of his ex-wife.
Fresh puncture marks point to a drug overdose, but the grief-stricken Willie isn’t so sure. And so he embarks on a dangerous journey into his own past in search of the truth.
14. Gatekeeper (2003)
A series of drug crimes is sending shockwaves rippling across Vermont. In little over a week, three people have died, and now, detective Joe Gunther is determined to stop the influx of drugs into the state before the body count rises further.
15. The Surrogate Thief (2004)
A woman has murdered her ex-husband in cold blood. But the murder weapon, a vintage, second-hand gun, has a disturbing tie to the head of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation, Detective Joe Gunther.
And now, Gunther must make a dangerous and deadly journey into his own past in a hair-raising case that could turn out to be his last.
16. St. Albans Fire (2005)
Arson attacks are spreading havoc across the Green Mountain State, and the body count is rising by the day. But Joe Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are already overwhelmed by cases, and they’ll need a miracle to stop this vicious killer before he strikes again.
17. The Second Mouse (2006)
Detective Joe Gunther and his team leave the familiar town of Brattleboro to investigate the mysterious death of Wilmington woman Michelle Fisher.
All signs seem to point to suicide, but Gunther knows there’s more to this case than meets the eye. He suspects foul play, and he’ll stop at nothing to bring her killer to justice.
18. Chat (2007)
Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation are investigating two seemingly unrelated deaths. Their inquiries lead them into the dark and sinister underworld of internet chat rooms, where nothing and nobody are as they seem.
But meanwhile, Gunther’s family narrowly escapes death in a suspicious car accident. And if he doesn’t act fast, next time, the killer won’t miss.
19. The Catch (2008)
Joe Gunther of the Vermont Bureau of Investigation heads to the neighboring state of Maine to investigate the death of a fellow officer, Brian Sleuter.
But the local authorities are unhelpful, to say the least, and if they’re going to find justice for Brian, they’ll have to solve this one on their own.
20. The Price of Malice (2009)
For years, Lyn Silva believed her father and brother had been lost at sea. But now, new evidence has emerged suggesting the pair of fishermen were murdered.
And so, Joe Gunther abandons his investigations in Vermont and heads north to Maine to uncover a decades-old secret that someone is determined to keep buried.
21. Red Herring (2010)
A string of violent, unrelated deaths has rocked Vermont, and Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigations are called in to investigate.
It soon becomes clear that the victims were murdered, and each one died at the hands of the same cunning killer.
22. Tag Man (2011)
Under cover of darkness, wealthy homes across Brattleboro, Vermont, are being targeted by a mysterious intruder. But these are no ordinary break-ins.
The victims report nothing stolen, and the only sign the perpetrator was ever there is a sinister post-it note stuck to their nightstands, bearing the words, “You’re It.”
The press dubs the intruder “The Tag Man,” and now, it’s down to Joe Gunther and his team to find out who he is.
23. Paradise City (2012)
In Boston, police are investigating the case of an elderly woman killed by intruders in her home.
But this is no isolated incident. Over in Vermont, Joe Gunther and his team are battling a similar string of break-ins, and now, it’s a race against time to catch the perpetrator before anyone else dies.
24. Three Can Keep a Secret (2013)
Police across Vermont are stretched to their limits after a massive hurricane devastates the local communities. And in the aftermath of the storm, they make a harrowing discovery—a long-buried coffin filled with nothing but rocks.
25. Proof Positive (2014)
Vietnam vet and long-time hoarder Ben Kendall has been killed, crushed to death by the weight of his own belongings.
But what at first looks like a tragic accident turns out to be something much more sinister. And now, it’s down to Joe Gunther and his team at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation to uncover the true cause of death.
26. The Company She Kept (2015)
Gail Zigman’s best friend, a high-profile state senator, has been brutally murdered, her mutilated corpse left hanging from the frozen cliffs of the interstate highway.
And so, Zigman calls on Joe Gunther and his Vermont Bureau of Investigation team to investigate what happened and find out who wanted her dead.
27. Presumption of Guilt (2017)
A skeleton has been discovered encased in concrete at a decommissioned nuclear plant, and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation is called to investigate.
The answers lie in a forty-year-old missing person case, which turns out to be murder. But the perpetrator is still at large, and they’re prepared to kill again to keep their deadly secret safe.
28. Trace (2017)
Joe Gunther has been pulled away from The Vermont Bureau of Investigation to care for his sick mother. And so, he leaves his colleague, Sammie Martens, in charge of a murder investigation that left an innocent young woman dead.
Meanwhile, Lester Spinney picks up a years-old cold double murder case, and one child’s sinister discovery on the railroad tracks leads Willy Kunkle into a possible case of military sabotage.
29. Bury the Lead (2018)
Joe Gunther and his team are called to investigate the murder of a young woman on a mountain ski trail. They quickly identify the prime suspect, but even after he confesses to the killings, Gunther isn’t convinced they’ve got the right man.
30. Bomber’s Moon (2019)
Joe Gunther and the VBI are investigating the murder of a small-town drug dealer. Meanwhile, on the sidelines, two young women, one an investigative reporter and the other a private detective, are conducting their own undercover investigations.
But dark forces are at work, and these justice seekers are about to face the most deadly and terrifying challenge of their careers so far.
31. The Orphan’s Guilt (2020)
A Vermont state trooper has arrested John Rust for drunk driving. So, to escape the penalty, Rust’s lawyer hires a private detective to dig into a personal family tragedy.
But her investigations raise more questions than answers, and now, Joe Gunther and his team are tasked with a possible murder case with ancient roots.
32. Marked Man (2021)
Local millionaire Nathan Lyon died of natural causes, surrounded by his loving family in his sprawling mansion. At least, that’s what everyone thought.
But now, Joe Gunther and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation team have received shocking information that blows the whole case out of the water.
33. Fall Guy (2022)
A car filled with stolen goods has been discovered in Vermont. And inside the trunk is the body of the thief himself.
Now, Joe Gunther and his team connect the dots, which leads them to a decades-old unsolved child abduction case.
Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther Short Stories
Archer Mayor has also penned two short stories to complement the main Joe Gunther series. Here they are in the order they were published.
Archer Mayor’s Non-Fiction Book
In 1988, Archer Mayor wrote a biography of William Buchanon, a self-made success in the timber industry and one of the richest men in the American South.
If you’re on the hunt for a new crime thriller series, look no further. Archer Mayor’s Joe Gunther novels are some of the most thrilling detective stories of all time.
Are you already a fan of this bestselling series? If so, what are your favorite books? Let me know in the comments below!