The Orphan’s Guilt – Archer Mayor

This novel starts with a young man being pulled over for a DUI. Passive and quiet, John Rust accepts his arrest, seemingly not really caring about the future. He’s just lost his handicapped brother Peter, whom he was devoted to, and was the sole caretaker of, for many years. He’s taken to the police station and processed, and eventually released on his own recognizance, and takes a taxi home. 

John’s attorney, Scott Jezek, is hoping to find a loophole – some way to keep John out of jail. He calls his best investigator, Sally Kravitz, explains John’s situation, and asks for her assistance. He also asks her to delve into Peter’s story in attempts to garner sympathy for his client. However, as Sally starts digging into the past, she learns that John & Peter came from a very volatile living situation as children, and that Peter’s handicap wasn’t something he was born with – it was inflicted. With Peter’s death now potentially being a years-old murder, Joe Gunther and his VBI team are notified and begin their own investigation.

Meanwhile, reporter Rachel Reiling receives a call from the local funeral home, suggesting that Peter & John Rust’s story would make a great human interest piece. Sighing to herself, Rachel politely takes the information and begins to do a little digging on her own.  In doing so she meets Sally, and the two join forces in their search for answers.  But now, no one can find John Rust – he seems to have disappeared. 

As the VBI gets involved, a sad but strange story emerges. A mother, Karen, who died of a drug overdose, a father Daryl, who walked out on his sons, and a few shifty companions, who either did time, or are deceased. As Joe & Willy look for these past players, Sally & Rachel dig deeper as well, bringing a 20 year old theft to light, and reawakening old grudges with a vengeance!

I have always enjoyed the Joe Gunther series, and this newest addition is no exception! As always, it is set in beautiful southern Vermont, and while the story starts a bit slower than some, I was very quickly drawn into the characters, their hardships, and the familiarity of Joe and his crew as if they were old friends – which in a manner of speaking, they are!  A satisfying ending, and as, always, a great read from Archer Mayor!  

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from St. Martins Press & Netgalley, in exchange for an objective review.