Chat (Joe Gunther Series #18)

( 152 )


News travels fast in the small state of Vermont. In this tight-knit society, police officers and investigators proudly maintain a kinship that transcends the boundaries of their jurisdictions. When an unidentified body is found in the peaceful town of Brattleboro, local police and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation both appear at the scene.

But before investigator Joe Gunther can begin to gather evidence of...
See more details below
Paperback (Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)
$6.99 price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (46) from $1.99   
  • New (11) from $3.57   
  • Used (35) from $1.99   
Chat (Joe Gunther Series #18)

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK Study
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$5.99 price


News travels fast in the small state of Vermont. In this tight-knit society, police officers and investigators proudly maintain a kinship that transcends the boundaries of their jurisdictions. When an unidentified body is found in the peaceful town of Brattleboro, local police and the Vermont Bureau of Investigation both appear at the scene.

But before investigator Joe Gunther can begin to gather evidence of murder, a family emergency sends him to his hometown, where the lives of his mother and brother have suddenly been threatened. Gunther reaches out to a network of police officers who know him only by name and repututation as he attempts to discover the source of this imminent danger.

Meanwhile, his investigative team chases an elusive murderer who has no apparent ties to the victim. In a state that is more like a neighborhood community, secrets are difficult to keep, and it's sometimes impossible to know who can be trusted. Gunther soon finds himself opposing criminals more menacing than any he has ever encountered in order to save those he holds closest to his heart.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Washington Post Book World
"The writing is strong, with sharp social observations throughout. Gunther grows on you from novel to novel."
"Mayor's Joe Gunther novels are among the best cop stories being written today."
The New Yorker
"Mayor's skills are equal to the vigor of his imagination, and we take his word for every twist, every turn, every thunderbolt."
The New York Times Book Review

"Archer Mayor's unassuming voice and down-to-earth style stamp his regional crime novels with a sense of integrity."
Library Journal

On the same night that an unidentified body of a man is found floating in a lake near Brattleboro, VT, detective Joe Gunther must leave his investigative team at the scene and return to his hometown, where his mother and brother have been seriously injured in an automobile accident. The 18th case in Mayor's outstanding series is one of the hardest for Gunther because it becomes apparent that someone is trying to kill his loved ones. Torn between his loyalty to his coworkers and his commitment to his family, he discovers that people rise to the occasion and offer help in unexpected ways. All the ingredients for a great mystery are here: fast pacing, a believable plot, a plausible solution, and characters so real they walk off the pages. Mayor's books just get better and better. Don't miss this one.

—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
Happy families, unhappy families, bloodthirsty families . . . suddenly Special Agent Joe Gunther is hip-deep in family business. There's nothing much new about a snowy night in Vermont, but on this one Joe Gunther's mom and brother come close to killing themselves. "It was the car, not the road," whispers Leo Gunther just before going into a coma. And since his brother is famously car crazy, car savvy and almost obsessively careful, his remark sets Joe thinking. And investigating. It's not long before the notorious Griffis family casts its dark shadow. Years earlier, Joe had arrested young Andy Griffis, who went to prison and subsequently killed himself. His volatile brother, who swore vengeance, had access to Leo's car and could have tinkered with it. Meanwhile, two mysteriously similar murders preoccupy the hard-pressed cops at the Vermont Bureau of Investigation. Were the vics the Internet predators they appear to have been? If so, should the VBI be checking out the possibility of other vengeful families? "Family, family, family," says a VBI colleague plaintively. "I mean, what do you get out of the whole deal?" The answer: "I guess we just do the best we can."After 18 installments (St. Albans Fire, 2005, etc.), Gunther's adventures remain as consistently readable as anything in the genre.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446196932
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Series: Joe Gunther Series , #18
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 319,722
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Archer Mayor lives in Newfane, Vermont. He writes full-time and volunteers as a firefighter/EMT. He is also a death investigator for the state's medical examiner, and a part-time police officer for the Bellows Falls Police Department. Mayor has lived all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe, and has been variously employed as a scholarly editor, a researcher for TIME-LIFE Books, a political advance man, a theater photographer, a newspaper writer/editor, and a medical illustrator. In addition to his Joe Gunther series, he has written two books on American history, a few short stories, and many articles
Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt


By Archer Mayor

Grand Central Publishing

Copyright © 2007 Archer Mayor
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-446-58258-2

Chapter One

"Made it, Ma. Top o' the world," Leo quoted theatrically, his words shrouding his head in the cold night air. "What would you think if I went out like that?"

His mother twisted around in her wheelchair to look at him balefully. "I don't understand why such a wonderful dancer would do a movie like that."

Leo smiled down at her as he pushed her gently along a shoveled path, across the broad courtyard before Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts, universally nicknamed The Hop. "I warned you, Ma. I told you it wasn't Yankee Doodle Dandy."

"You said it was a gangster movie," she persisted, "not an ode to a psychopath."

Leo burst out laughing. "Wow. You make it sound pretty deep. I just liked it when he shot the car trunk full of holes to let the guy inside breathe, or when he went nutso in the prison dining hall after finding out his mother died."

She faced forward again as they neared the curb. "How did I end up with such a disturbed child?" she asked meditatively.

"Hey," he told her. "You got one son who's a cop. Stands to reason the other should go to the dark side. It's nature's balance."

He went to pass by her on his way to unlock the car, when she grabbed his wrist in a quick-moving, wiry hand.

This time, her expression was soft and appreciative. "I've been doubly blessed, Leo," she told him. "Both my boys are just right."

He leaned over and kissed her wrinkled cheek, warm in the evening's chill. "I love you, too, Ma. I hear they're playing Polanski's Repulsion next week."

She tapped the side of his head playfully as he moved away. "Oh, now, that sounds like a comedy."

"You have no idea," he admitted.

She watched him bustling about, unlocking doors, starting the engine to get the heater going. It wasn't all that cold, even though it had been dark for several hours. Dartmouth's trademark Green was coated with a new layer of snow, which shimmered under the glow of dozens of traditionally designed streetlamps. These, along with the formal brick buildings looming darkly beyond them, and the enormous library's beautifully lighted clock tower at the far end, lent the entire scene a timelessness, as if she might have been waiting for her son to hook up a horse and sleigh instead of a Subaru.

"All set," he said, stepping behind her once more and easing her chair off the sidewalk to where it nestled beside the car's open door.

She reached out and took hold of the two handles Leo had attached just inside the opening, one high and one low, and nimbly used them to assist herself inside. Her legs were too weak to support her, but they did move, which was a godsend in situations like this. She was already attaching her seat belt by the time Leo opened the car's rear door to slip in the folded wheelchair.

He joined her moments later, making the car rock as he virtually fell into his seat. An enthusiast by nature, he never did anything by half measures, including the most mundane of actions.

"You want to stop somewhere for ice cream or cocoa or something?" he asked.

Now she was looking at the facade of The Hop, from which they'd just come on their weekly Friday night outing. Designed by the same architect who later did Lincoln Center in New York, it looked like the kind of place that would offer a broad sampling of the arts-modern by one light, slightly worn by another. She and Leo came here frequently, local beneficiaries of the college's mission to be a generous cultural neighbor.

"No," she answered him. "Not tonight. Drive me around the Green, though, will you? I love the buildings."

Leo backed out of their parking space and slipped into the thin traffic, taking his first left to engage the long eastern reach of the Green.

"Feeling touristy?" he asked.

She was watching the buildings go by, but also the students, huddled in their winter clothing, marching determinedly in small groups or singly, intent on their mysterious goals, which could as easily have been the next beer or a rendezvous as some scholarly pursuit. Although she'd been a local her entire life, even if from Vermont, just across the river, she'd never had the envious, resentful view of the college so many other "townies" harbored, nor had she delighted in the supposed depiction made of the place in the movie Animal House. She worshipped education, and while her sons had become a police officer and a butcher and hadn't benefited from Dartmouth's offerings, she had made sure they developed an appreciation of music and literature and art, and she'd trained them to be analytical, appreciative, mindful, and kind.

She knew that college students could be self-indulgent, narcissistic, and careless with the gift they'd been offered. Those were the clichés. But as Leo slowly circled the Green, quietly allowing for her meditation, she relished the fantasy she'd held forever, of places like this being the incubators of the mind, where kids learned to think, sometimes despite their best resistance.

"You should've gone here, Ma," Leo finally said.

She turned away from the buildings to look at him. "I came close enough," she said after a thoughtful pause. "I got access to that library and passed along what you and Joe could bear. It would have been fun to actually sit in class, but I can't complain-I've read what a lot of their professors wrote."

Leo laughed again. "And you got to fall asleep in class. We were always taking books off your lap after you dozed off."

She whacked his shoulder. "Once in a blue moon, after spending all day chasing you two around."

"You did good, Ma," he said after a pause.

It was a gentle taunt. He delighted in mangling English around her, since she worked so hard not to do so herself. But this time, instead of correcting him, she chuckled and admitted, "I think I done good, too."

He smiled and hit his right turn indicator at the stoplight, preparing to go down North Wheelock and across the bridge into Vermont, at the bottom of the hill. Of course, much of what they'd just been talking about dated back a few years. His mother had slowed down recently, reading less and watching more television. And since landing in the wheelchair, she'd retired the use of that library card.

Their years together were numbered, clearly.

In the darkness of the car, his smile faded away. As silly as it sometimes sounded when he admitted it out loud, he'd lived with his mother all his life so far, and he was fair and square beyond middle age. His older brother, Joe, had been the restless one, leaving home early to join the service, seeing combat halfway around the world, going to college for a few years in California. Even now he lived in Brattleboro, near the Massachusetts border, sixty miles to the south.

But Leo had never seen the attraction. He and their mom lived in the farmhouse he'd been born in, and his room overlooked the fields his father had once tilled. When the old man died so many years ago, leaving behind two boys and a young widow, the three survivors had looked to one another for their grounding. Joe had used that as a springboard to go forth into the world; Leo had seen it as all he really needed. He began working at the market in Thetford Center, just down the hill from the farm, and settled into a life of dating girls lacking in serious intentions, working in the barn on old cars from the sixties, becoming the most highly prized butcher for twenty miles around, and establishing an easy and permanent friendship with his mother.

Which he knew was closing in on a natural end.

"You're awfully quiet all of a sudden," she said softly.

They had just reached the bridge spanning the Connecticut River, a newly rebuilt structure, which its designers had accessorized with a series of gigantic, evenly spaced concrete balls-a source of some humor in a school renowned for its testosterone.

"Just thinking about the movie."

She let it go. Whatever its virtues, White Heat didn't merit an excess of reflection. Leo had something private on his mind, and she had a pretty good idea what it was, or what she feared it might be. While grateful for a lifetime of Leo's company, she was not unaware of the peculiarity of a middle-aged son still living with his mother. The thought that she-or her circumstances, first as a widow and then as an invalid-had encouraged this situation only made her feel guilty. That said, she was also a pretty good observer of people, and her take on her younger son was that he was not only happy with the status quo, but increasingly worried about what to do after she died.

She could sympathize. She'd been in much the same boat when their father died. A good and decent man, much older than she, he'd had his greatest influence on them all only after his death, when they discovered the huge void he'd so quietly filled.

She suspected that Leo, more than Joe, would find the world an oddly empty place, at least for a while, once she followed her late husband's example.

She stole a glance at him as he turned right onto Route 5 on the Vermont side of the bridge and began heading north, parallel to the interstate, which he knew she didn't enjoy as much.

"Thank you, Leo," she said.

He looked at her quickly, both his hands on the wheel, a good and practiced driver. "What for? I thought you hated the movie."

"For taking me anyhow, for not choosing the interstate, for being a good son. I'm not sure I tell you enough how grateful I am for everything. You've given up a lot for me."

He laughed, though a little cautiously. His mother wasn't prone to such comments. "Totally selfish, Ma. Do you know how many times I've used you as an excuse to shake off some female with big plans? Unbelievable. There are women up and down this valley who think you're the worst thing since Cruella de Vil. You should be calling a libel lawyer instead of patting me on the back for being such a wonderful son."

She smiled and shook her head. She should have known better. Leo was her showman, quick to grab a joke when faced with a serious moment.

She decided to allow him his choice. "Really?" she reacted in kind. "No wonder I've been getting those strange looks. Good Lord. I always thought it was my breath, or maybe something horrible coming out of my nostril."

They were surrounded by darkness now, moving quickly and alone along the smooth, twisting road, paradoxically comforted by the dark, semifrozen expanse of the large river to their right. New Englanders often felt at home while isolated in the cold. It was that aspect of their environment that most outsiders compared to their demeanor, but which they themselves saw as simply encouraging strong character.

Leo was surprised. "Are you kidding about that?" he asked. "Have you really noticed ...?"

He suddenly stopped speaking, his hands tightening on the wheel. "Damn ..."

Alarmed, she looked first at him and then out the window, expecting a deer to be standing in the middle of the road-an almost common experience. Instead, the road was beginning to shift away as they slid out of control on a slight curve.

"Shit," Leo said through clenched teeth. "Hang on ..."

She was ahead of him there, clutching both the dashboard and the uppermost handle beside her. "Leo," she said, almost a whisper.

Ahead of them the landscape changed from the comfort of the black macadam to a blizzard of white snow as they plowed through an embankment that exploded across their windshield. They could hear beneath them the tearing of metal against the remnants of a hidden guardrail, along with their own seemingly disconnected shouting. They were first jarred by several abrupt encounters with buried stumps or boulders, and then became weightless as the car began to barrel roll, causing their heads to be surrounded by flying maps, CDs, loose change, and an assortment of now lethal tools that Leo normally kept in the back.

In the sudden darkness following the loss of both headlights, Leo's mother focused solely on the muffled sounds around her, coming from all sides as they continued farther and farther downhill. She began thinking about the cold water that might be waiting at the bottom-if that was the way they were headed.

And then it was over. In one explosive flash, she felt a shocking blow to the side of her head, the sense of some metallic object, perhaps a lug wrench, passing before her face, and then nothing.

Leo opened his eyes briefly before shutting them again with a wince, brought up short by a burst of pain in his left eye. He paused a moment, trying to sort through the throbbing at his temples, to remember what had happened.

"Mom?" he asked suddenly, attempting to see again, ignoring the pain. He shifted in his seat, looking in her direction. The car was black and utterly silent. Carefully, he reached out and touched her, the tips of his cold fingers slipping on something wet on the side of her head.

"Oh, Jesus," he murmured. He made to turn toward her and shouted in agony, the entire left side of his chest suddenly spiking as if electrified. He sat back, panting, and coughed, feeling as if his lungs were full of phlegm. He gingerly pushed through his overcoat at his ribs with his good hand and winced.

"God damn it," he said, mostly to hear his own voice. "Mom?" he repeated then, reaching out a second time, but lower, groping for her shoulder, which appeared to be fine-maybe merely because it was there at all.

But she wasn't moving.

It was cold, and the other thing his fingers had felt was snow. Somewhere there was a broken window. He had no idea how long they'd been here, had no clue if they were visible from the road. He didn't even know if they were both alive.

He followed her shoulder up to her neck and burrowed his index finger between her collar and the scarf she was wearing, probing for a pulse. He was a butcher, he thought ruefully. At least he knew his way around a body.

His fingers were too cold. If her heart was beating, he couldn't feel it, but he doubted he could have anyway. At least that was the comfort he gave himself.

"Okay, okay," he said softly. "Probably just as well. No pain, no struggling. She's got her coat on. Could be worse."

Still using his right hand, he touched the window next to him. Intact. He didn't feel as though they were on their side, and he couldn't hear running water, which meant they hadn't reached the river. So far, so good.

He felt down to the door latch and pulled it. Nothing. Probably jammed. With even fewer expectations, he tried the electric window toggle. He was rewarded with a gentle whirring sound and a cool waft of air against his cheek.

"No shit," he muttered, noticing how hard it was to breathe, to actually move his lungs. The window had lowered all the way. He considered shouting, but with the cold air had also come a wider silence, as from a chasm without bottom. He knew this road-it either had traffic or was empty. There were no pedestrians and few homes.

He had to get out.

He moved his feet and found his lower body uninjured. That was good. But even at 100 percent, struggling out the side window of a small car wasn't easy. And, he knew by now, he was far from 100 percent, just as he knew that wasn't phlegm in his lungs.

"Ma?" he said, barely whispering by now. "Can you hear me? I got to try to get help."


He sighed, gritted his teeth, took hold of the steering wheel with his good hand, and pushed up with his feet, hoping to launch himself at least partway out the window.

The pain was beyond imagination. It felt like lava, filling him with heat and blinding red light, exploding inside his head and making him gasp for air. Beyond that, he could feel something fundamental shift within him, as if the cellar of a house had suddenly vanished into the earth, leaving everything above it precariously poised above a void. For a split second, he could almost see himself hovering in the air, somewhere between heaven and oblivion.

And then he, too, collapsed into the blackness and the utter, all-encompassing quiet of a winter night.

Brett: so wut u doing

gIRl: chatting with u

Brett: cool

Brett: u in school

gIRl: nope

Brett: why

gIRl: home - school get out at 220

Brett: oh cool

Brett: so u ain't got no bf to be hanging with

gIRl: nope broke

Brett: that sucks

gIRl: i guess


Excerpted from Chat by Archer Mayor Copyright © 2007 by Archer Mayor. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 152 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 152 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 27, 2012


    I highly recommend the whole Joe Gunther series! I've read them all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 11, 2009


    I love this author. I discovered him about a year and a half ago and have to pace myself so I won't rip through everything he's written and be left with nothing to look forward to. His characters are wonderful; they are interesting enough that I'd love to have dinner with any of them, but contain enough flaws to be believably human.

    I read a lot of books in this genre, and think Mayor provides the right level of forsenic detail with credible descriptions of police work.

    I also love the setting; having a daughter at Dartmouth, I've been spending a lot of time in the towns along the Connecticut River in both Vermont and New Hampshire. Mayor's descriptive prose is superlative.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014


    Peace duces im gone

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014


    I anyone here?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014


    Its ok u just should start off with a pink lady

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014


    Pretty good

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014


    *walks in wearing short shorts and a tank top. Sits down beside Brandy.* Hey Brandy. Whats up?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014


    He walked in wearing just jeans. His bulge was huge. He sat down looking horny

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    To you both

    do it too at 'too good to be true'

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2014


    For the first time in a while, Brandy sat down completely sober. She was still wearing her typical outfit, her black thigh high dress with her stilettos, but she was free of the alcohol. Of course the reasoning for that was the lack of alcoholic drinks, but she just sat on the couch sad looking.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2014


    Walks in. Hello anyone here?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 18, 2014


    I'm jake. Does anyone want nook se.x

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2014

    Joy to Boys

    Anybody single? Need a bf

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014


    15 military background football and tennis player

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2014

    Sexy girl

    Sexy girl at rainbow res one. No godmobbing.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2014


    *walks in* hey c i join?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2014


    "Yeah." She smiled and replied. (Gtg bbt)

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2014

    Im locked out

    Res 2

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2014


    Hit me up on catcher first result

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014



    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 152 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)