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Fruits of the Poisonous Tree (Joe Gunther Series #5)
     

Fruits of the Poisonous Tree (Joe Gunther Series #5)

3.6 5
by Archer Mayor
 

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Gail Zigman, town selectwoman and Joe Gunther's companion of many years, is raped, and the detective finds himself caught between the media, local politicians, and a network of well-meaning victims' rights advocates as he tries to put his own feelings aside and follow the trail of evidence. Every lead seems to point to a single, obvious suspect, but is the evidence

Overview

Gail Zigman, town selectwoman and Joe Gunther's companion of many years, is raped, and the detective finds himself caught between the media, local politicians, and a network of well-meaning victims' rights advocates as he tries to put his own feelings aside and follow the trail of evidence. Every lead seems to point to a single, obvious suspect, but is the evidence too perfect? Risking his friendship with Gail, the respect of his peers, and his own life, Lt. Gunther keeps digging, hoping to find out if the man they have in jail is rightly there, or if the evidence against him is tainted—"fruits of the poisonous tree."

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Excellent . . . a dazzling tale that combines detection, compassion, small-town sociology, local politics, and personal priorities . . . How much better can Mayor get? This combination of detection and nonstop action is his best yet.”

Toronto Saturday Star

A deft mix of storm stories, political shenanigans, small-town procedural stuff and some pretty shocking buried secrets. One of [protagonist] Joe [Gunther]’s best.”

Kirkus Reviews

Library Journal
This police procedural has little to do with childish things. Rudely awakened early in the morning, Brattleboro, Vermont, detective Joe Gunther learns that his long-time girlfriend has been raped. Since she's the board of selectmen's chair, the case becomes a cause clbre, with journalists, politicians, feminists, and other police pointing fingers and claiming attention. Although close to the victim, Gunther heads the investigation, carefully following all details of proper procedure. Mayor's (The Skeleton's Knee, LJ 11/1/93) smooth, measured prose thoroughly describes both behind-the-scenes and on-the-street aspects of his search. Recommended.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780979812248
Publisher:
AMPress
Publication date:
01/01/2007
Series:
Joe Gunther Series , #5
Pages:
262
Sales rank:
434,341
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

To set the stage: In pursuit of a man believed to have raped Gail Zigman – Bob Vogel – Joe has been stabbed in the stomach, and now lies near death in the hospital.

What I remember comes to me in private mental snapshots-some slightly fuzzy or badly framed, some of people, others of ceilings, ambulance roofs, or views of the sky. All of them are in random order. The one constant theme, like music accompanying a slide show, is the pain. It is the pain, I’ve come to think, that stimulated my taking the snapshots in the first place. Whenever it hit badly enough, I came into focus, more or less, just as a dozing concertgoer might be jarred awake by an occasional off-key note, before nodding off once more.

There are many clear, full face, but troubled portraits of friends-Tony, Ron, Sammie, Gail, Billy… even my younger brother Leo, a butcher from Thetford and the gentle custodian of the remnants of my family. All there, I knew, to lend me comfort, to see how I’m doing, but all looking as if they’ve lost their best friend. There is one of Willy, of course, that’s a little different. He’s farther away, standing straight and viewing from a distance. When I wasn’t taking photos but just leafing through them until the next spasm woke me up – I came to think he was looking at me as he might a dead dog in the street. But then he’s a special case; and he did show up.

Toward the end, more lucid, although still keeping to myself in dark unconsciousness, I knew that’s what was going on-that they were visiting me-fitting themselves awkwardly in between the IV poles, the electronic monitors, the EKG machine, and a bunch of other equipment that kept a steady watch on me. But having no memory of their visits apart from these disjointed images-and judging solely from their expressions-I knew I wasn’t doing too well.

I eventually found that out for myself when the familiar painful stimulus led to a moving picture instead of a still. I watched in grimacing fascination as a young nurse, her eyes watchful, manipulated something below my line of sight. It was dark all around us, the only light coming from a freestanding gooseneck lamp she had beside her, and the familiar green, red, and amber glow from the various instruments plugged in all around me.

“Ow.”

She stopped, and turned to look at me, her face darkening in the shadow, which in turn highlighted the whiteness of her teeth as she smiled. “Good morning.”

I moved my head slightly to take in the surrounding gloom. “Morning?”

“Figure of speech. It’s two A.M. How are you feeling?” Her voice was soft and clear.

“Not too good. What are you doing down there?” To me, my voice sounded like it was coming from inside an echo chamber and my throat hurt like hell. I didn’t know if I was whispering or shouting.

“Changing your dressing. Sorry if it hurts a bit.”

I caught my breath at an extra jolt, remembering how painlessly the knife had slipped in. “He did a hell of a job, I guess.”

She smiled again, her eyes back on what she was doing. “That he did. He said lots of other people would’ve died from less. You’re a tough guy, Mr. Gunther.”

She hadn’t known whom I’d meant, and I was too tired to explain it to her. Also, there was something uplifting in the way she spoke, after all those grim-faced snapshots, and I didn’t want to ruin the mood. I passed out instead, launched on a new career of collecting movie loops-small segments of action, usually of nurses like her, sometimes of doctors-always brought on by the pain. Some of these loops had dialog, occasionally as coherent and reasonable as that first one, but they tended to be a little repetitive. The time of day and concern for how I was feeling were two popular subjects. And there were other times when the movie and the soundtrack were completely out of whack, when lips moved without sound and words floated by out of context. I got more of those grim looks at those times, and eventually, like a precocious toddler, I learned to keep my mouth shut when the audience frowned.

A breakthrough came when I woke not from pain, but from a gentle pressure on my forehead-something warm and smooth-a caress-and I opened my eyes to see Gail looking down at me.

“Smile,” I asked her.

She smiled-genuinely-the pleasure reaching the small crinkles near her eyes. “Hi. You’re looking better.”

I waited for the pain, for the lights to fade and the movie to end as usual-some of them had been that short-but nothing happened. I took advantage of it to study her more closely, in the flesh, instead of in the recesses of my mind. She didn’t look better. Her eyes were bloodshot, her hair tangled and unwashed, and her cheeks gaunt and shadowed with exhaustion.

“You look terrible.”

The smile spread to a chuckle. “Thanks a lot-you’re to blame for most of it.”

I felt a familiar tug on my ability to focus-my brain longing to return to its black hole of peaceful contemplation. My sight darkened and blurred. But I didn’t want to go this time. I shifted my weight slightly, and the hot poker did the rest-my eyes cleared and my mind resurfaced.

That obviously wasn’t all it did, however. Gail suddenly leaned forward, her expression intent. “Are you okay?”

I unclenched my teeth. “Yeah-sorry.” I raised an arm to touch her, to set her at ease, and saw a thin, almost bony hand come into view-pale, slightly wrinkled, and scarred by several old IV sites along the forearm. Instead of squeezing her shoulder, I flexed my hand several times, as if at a loss to explain its function.

She interpreted the gesture. “You’ve been here a long time, Joe. Weeks. You came close to dying a few times.”

Her tightly controlled voice suddenly meshed with her ravaged appearance and I felt terrible about my earlier flip comment. I put the stranger’s hand to use and gripped her arm. “Gail, I thought about you-about being with you-just after he stabbed me.”

She smiled again. “Swell.”

I held onto her harder. “No. It was strange. It was peaceful, and didn’t hurt. I was just lying there in the water, thinking of how nice it would be to be with you. You were the one thing I could think of that helped.”

The words sounded awkward to me, unfamiliar and slightly juvenile. I was angered at my own lack of eloquence, knowing without being told of the hours she must have spent by my bed, putting aside her own pain so she could accompany me through mine.

“I guess it worked,” was what she said, but the smile lingered in her eyes.

I wanted to ask her how she was doing, if her own suffering at the hand of our mutual nemesis had eased any since we’d last visited. I wanted to find out what had happened to Bob Vogel, and what her reaction was to that. But it was all beyond me. My vision closed in again, I saw my hand fall away from her arm, and this time I couldn’t bring myself to move. Just as I shut down, I saw Gail lean forward to kiss me.

The next visitor I knew about was Leo, my brother, who woke me up as any truly professional butcher might-by getting a firm grip on the meat of my upper arm.

He smiled as I opened my eyes. “Jesus, Joey, you’re scrawnier’n hell.”

I focused on his tired face-broader and darker than Gail’s. “You don’t look so hot yourself,” I croaked, clearing my throat.

He slipped his arm behind my neck and tilted my head up to receive some cool water from a cup with a bent straw hanging out of it-his years of tending our invalid mother showing in his gentle dexterity. “I knew you’d want some of this-all that crap they had stuffed down your throat. I couldn’t believe it.”

I finished sipping and he laid me back, suddenly peeling back my upper lip and looking at my teeth. “Boy, we ought to do something about that, too. I brought a toothbrush, okay?”

I stared in wordless amazement at the brush he whipped out of his shirt pocket, his tired eyes gleaming with the bright glow of success. “That’s another thing I knew they wouldn’t think of. Has Gail tried to kiss you yet?”

“I don’t… I think so. I’ve been kind of groggy.”

He burst out laughing and produced a crumpled tube from another pocket, from which he slathered a thick dollop onto the brush. “God, no wonder she hasn’t said much-must still be catching her breath.”

I blinked a couple of times, trying to banish the tendrils of a deep sleep from my brain. “Leo, what’s been going on? Where am I?”

He raised his eyebrows and dipped the brush into the cup. “You don’t know? Open your mouth.”

I raised a hand to hold him off. “Don’t. I can do it.”

He handed it over cheerfully. “I doubt it.”

I took the brush and tried to use it, my fingers trembling with the effort. After only a couple of strokes, my entire arm felt heavy, and I missed my teeth completely, delivering a swatch of foam across my chin.

Leo shook his head, satisfied by his foresight. “Give me that. You’re making a mess.” He took it away and set to work, neatly and gently. “You’re in Lebanon, New Hampshire-the Hitchcock Hospital-and you’ve been under for three weeks, Joey-gram negative septicemia-that’s what they said you had. Fancy for blood poisoning. What the knife started, your own guts spilling into the rest of you almost finished. You had the docs scrambling a couple of times. Bad fevers, seizures, times you were delirious-you gave ‘em a run for their money. They tell me you lost forty pounds just lying here. By the way, who’s paying for all this?”

I gurgled something, and he shrugged, “Oh, right. Sorry. Here —” he brandished the all-purpose cup. “Spit.”

I spat.

“The reason I ask, you got first class all the way-police escort for the ambulance from the dam; helicopter ride up from Brattleboro; the best surgical team they had to offer here… You know how long they worked on you?”

I knew better than to try to answer. When Leo was on a roll, there was no point trying to stop him.

“Eight hours. Gail and I were sitting outside the whole time. They tried getting us to go home, but forget that. Anyway, it was the same bunch working on you the whole night. I thought docs were a little overpaid, you know? But when I saw the head guy-when he came out to tell us you’d pulled through the operation-he looked like he’d earned his keep. That son-of-a-gun looked beat. You know what I mean?”

He punched me gently on the shoulder and then immediately leaned over me, his eyes inches from mine. “Damn, you okay? Got a little carried away. That didn’t hurt, did it?”

“It’s okay, Leo.”

He was already massaging the shoulder with his big paw, doing far more damage than he had with the punch. He suddenly stopped again and took my face in his hands, as he might a small child’s. His face was serious and troubled, in abrupt contrast to the beaming expression he’d been showering on me so far. “You’re doing okay now, aren’t you? Feeling better?”

I tried to nod between his hands, and muttered through puckered lips, “Fine-a little tired.”

“I know you’ve been banged up before-even out like a light for a couple of days-but this time… I don’t know… You really had me scared. You actually died a couple of times, you know that?”

I tried shaking my head politely, with less success.

He glanced up at the machines clustered around me. “Hadn’t been for all this stuff-and all the people here-you would’ve been history.” He paused, his eyes gleaming brightly. “You scared the shit out of me.”

He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek, said, “Don’t do it again,” and disappeared as magically as he’d appeared.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
“I once asked my wife who her favorite mystery author was and she said Archer Mayor… I’m not sure our marriage has recovered.”

—Craig Johnson, Author, Walt Longmire Mysteries, the basis for A&E’s hit drama “Longmire”

Meet the Author

Archer Mayor is the author of the highly acclaimed Vermont-based series featuring detective Joe Gunther, which the Chicago Tribune describes as “the best police procedurals being written in America.” He is a past winner of the New England Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Fiction—the first time a writer of crime literature has been so honored. In 2011, Mayor’s 22nd Joe Gunther novel, TAG MAN, earned a place on The New York Times bestseller list for hardback fiction.

Before turning his hand to fiction, Mayor wrote history books, the most notable of which, Southern Timberman: The Legacy of William Buchanan, concerned the lumber and oil business in Louisiana from the 1870s to the 1970s. This book was published in 1988 and very well received; it was republished as a trade paperback in 2009.

Archer Mayor is a death investigator for Vermont’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, a detective for the Windham County Sheriff’s Office, the publisher of his own backlist, a travel writer for AAA, and he travels the Northeast giving speeches and conducting workshops. He has 25 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter/EMT. Mayor was brought up in the US, Canada and France and had been employed as a scholarly editor, a researcher for TIME-LIFE Books, a political advance-man, a theater photographer, a newspaper writer/editor, a lab technician for Paris-Match Magazine in Paris, France, and a medical illustrator. In addition to writing novels and occasional articles, Mayor gives talks and workshops all around the country, including the Bread Loaf Young Writers conference in Middlebury, Vermont, and the Colby College seminar on forensic sciences in Waterville, Maine.

Mayor’s critically-acclaimed series of police novels feature Lt. Joe Gunther of the Brattleboro, Vermont, police department. The books, which have been appearing about once a year since 1988, have been published in five languages (if you count British), and routinely gather high praise from such sources as The New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, New Yorker, and others, often appearing on their “ten best” yearly lists.

Whereas many writers base their books only on interviews and scholarly research, Mayor’s novels are based on actual experience in the field. The result adds a depth, detail and veracity to his characters and their tribulations that has led The New York Times to call him “the boss man on procedures”.

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Fruits of the Poisonous Tree (Joe Gunther Series #5) 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
SherriSmith More than 1 year ago
I found his books quite by accident and I am totally enthralled with his main character! I am reading them in order and waiting on some of the older ones to come out in ebook format!
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