The Mayor of Vermont

Archer Mayor has been writing the Joe Gunther mystery novels for about 25 years, and because of their very Vermont-centricness, he gets interesting reactions to the books wherever he goes in the state — like the doctor’s office:

Standing in the waiting room of a doctor’s office, two men glanced at

the front page of Tuesday’s Reformer, and read the main headline: “Body

found on Elliot Street.”

Unaware of the man standing nearby, one of them said to the other, “Where’s Joe Gunther when you need him?”

“I turned around and said ‘Give me a break,’” said Archer Mayor, the

local author who brought the fictional detective to life 25 years ago,

when he cast him as the crime-solving hero of a mystery series set in


Sixteen novels later, Gunther seems to have become as much a part of

the state’s culture as Mayor has become an engaged resource in the


“Joe Gunther and reality have begun to overlap in people’s

imagination,” Mayor said, a concept that more or less can be attributed

to his use of local geography and characters in his books.

As a part-time police officer in Bellows Falls, a deputy medical

examiner for the state of Vermont and a volunteer EMT and firefighter

in Newfane, where he lives, Mayor’s inside look at law enforcement

makes him privy to many of the procedures followed by local officials,

and ultimately, by Joe Gunther, who works for the fictional Vermont

Bureau of Investigation.

But if he should stop writing Gunther, what would he do next?

For the time being, Mayor said Joe Gunther is paying his bills and

keeping him happy, but if he were ever to stray from his mystery

novels, he said he would try his pen at historical fiction.

Born five years after World War II ended, Mayor grew up in France with

“a very powerful memory all around me.” He remembers bullet holes still

fresh in the walls, and finding a grenade in his school yard in


Combining his interest in World War II as a child, his degree in

history, and his experience as a writer, Mayor said that in the future,

he’s tempted to create a novel that, by its very nature, seems like it

would give Joe Gunther a run for his money.