Gunther-Gram February 2011

The Official Archer Mayor Newsletter

And It’s Off!

The next installment, that is. TAG MAN, Joe’s 22nd adventure, was just sent off to my patient editors at St. Martins Press.

Just to give you an idea of what’s cooking in this one, here’s my draft of the suggested catalog copy that I mailed to New York a while ago:

Across Brattleboro, Vermont, rich people (some with dark secrets) are waking up in their high security, alarm-equipped homes to find a Post-it note stuck to their bedside tables reading, “Tag!” There is little sign of disturbance anywhere, nothing stolen (that anyone admits,) and only a bit of expensive food eaten as a signature. The Press loves it and dubs the burglar the TAG MAN. But who is he? And what’s he actually doing? In fact, he’s quickly running for his life, for what he discovers in one of these houses appears to be proof of a heinous string of murders. But is it? Joe Gunther, struggling to recover from a devastating personal loss, leads his VBI team to untangle a story told largely from the “bad guy’s” viewpoint, as the latter struggles for survival in the classic no-man’s-land that Alfred Hitchcock made famous between the police and the villains. There are chases, shoot-outs, and intrigue aplenty as everyone wonders what to believe, and who to trust. For, just as you don’t know who’s watching you as you sleep, so, too, you won’t know who did what in TAG MAN. Until the end….

Ya gotta love the ad biz. Anyhow, that gives you a small taste, AND sets to rest the concerns I’ve been hearing that Joe was retiring at the end of RED HERRING. Hey! This is my day job! I don’t want to quit. (Well, okay, one of my day jobs–but it’s the biggie.) Plus, I left him so sad by the end of that one, I had to write another, if only to perk him up.

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And speaking of feedback…

As I mentioned, I’ve been getting quite a bit of mail about how I left things at the end of RED HERRING. It’s fair to say that for the first time in this long series, a lot of that mail has been pretty steamed, given the book’s dramatic ending. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag concerning the ending (for those of you who haven’t been able to read the book yet,) but I thought that I’d share a few of the more spirited responses…

  • “Will Joe’s martyrdom to the cause of law and order next require the rape, torture, and murder of his mom?”
  • “If we were neighbors I wouldn’t be speaking to you right now. I just finished RED HERRING.”
  • “I think you didn’t play fair with your readers by killing off [name omitted]. How much suffering is one character supposed to endure?
  • “I am furious with you. The stupidest thing you ever did. SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!”

Okaaaay…. Now for some happier responses:

  • “Blowing my nose, just finished RED HERRING. So sad, your best yet. […] How do you do it? It’s magic. Thank you.”
  • “Mayor’s got his groove back. Socko ending left me Very satisfied.” “Good book………..OUTSTANDING ending. I have tears in my eyes. And now I have to wait an other WHOLE year.”
  • “Red Herring is the best book you have ever written. OK, that said, you could have had a better aim with that bullet!!”

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And in conclusion:

That’s it for the moment. We’re getting ready up here to deal with a major snowstorm. I do thank you for putting up with the infrequent timing of these Gunther-Grams–I put a couple too many balls in the air this year, I’m afraid, and stopped being the correspondent you all deserve. I will strive to improve, and I appreciate your support, your enthusiasm, and the letters that prove your true interest in what I’m doing here.

All the best

Archer