“Tag Man” is part of Archer Mayor’s continuing Joe Gunther series. A new reader can enjoy this book without having read the previous books, because the author provides quick background comments in the context of the storyline to fill in anything needed from the previous books.
Mayor created characters that we want to know, and then he brought the story to those characters, but not in the way we might expect. There is a crime spree in Brattleboro Vermont. Someone is breaking into homes, eating expensive food, and then leaving – without taking anything and without leaving a trace except for one little Post-it note “tag.” A harmless crime? Well, not entirely.
Early in the game we discover the identity of “Tag Man” because he is hiding in plain sight, and he does have a hidden agenda. Things go a little wrong for the “Tag Man” when he comes across some hidden love letters from a “victim’s” mistress. Unfortunately, he also stumbles onto something much, much worse, and that discovery puts his life and that of his daughter in jeopardy.
The characters are strong, and we support some of them despite their misdeeds; others we want brought to justice, and some we are just not sure about. Mayor intertwines these people in unusual ways as they chase one another all over Vermont. They are not who they seem to be, and all of them are on the run. Little details and clues dropped here and there kept me eagerly turning page after page, trying to fit things together.
The Vermont setting of the story is a character itself, and I followed the whole adventure on Google maps. I drove down Putney Road and over the bridge. I explored the pedestrian bridge, the food coop, and the dumpster. I even visited the Green Mountain Racetrack. I came to know the setting as well as the characters.
It is hard to believe that there are twenty-eight books in the Joe Gunther series. The stories are different and fascinating; the characters are familiar and innovative; the action is absorbing and gripping. I read the newest book Joe Gunther book, “Trace,” and I enjoyed it so much I was compelled to read more. I highly recommend the entire series. For me, two down, twenty-six to go.