Mention Vermont and the mind fills with images of bucolic farms and snow-covered mountains. Crime novelist Archer Mayor, who also works as a death investigator for Vermont’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and as a detective for the Windham County (Vermont) Sheriff’s Office, sees those things and others. His police detective protagonist Joe Gunther is more than likely to gaze out at the Connecticut River near Brattleboro and find a body floating on the surface, as was the case in Mayor’s 2007 novel “Chat.”
Brattleboro, Joe Gunther’s home turf, embraces its position as Vermont’s fictional crime center and the entire state of Vermont embraces Archer Mayor. At 12 Vermont Welcome Centers, including Guilford on I-91 near Brattleboro and Williston North and South on I-89 between Montpelier and Burlington, a new lending library program lets visitors pick up a print or audio edition of an Archer Mayor novel to enjoy while they travel and to return when they’re done. Lodging packages with an Archer Mayor/mystery fiction theme are available in Brattleboro, Burlington, North Bennington and Waterbury. The Brattleboro Literary Festival takes place in October.
The past year has not been kind to Brattleboro. A fire severely damaged the historic Brooks House hotel and much of the town’s Main Street, and rains from Hurricane Irene flooded the downtown area. But Vermont’s natural beauty remains unblemished.