He moved up in the world (from Providence to Brattleboro), changed his name, and then…

And then he became the murder victim in Archer Mayor’s latest novel, Marked Man.

Of course “moving up in the world” is a matter of opinion; I don’t mean that he moved north, although he definitely did do that. No true Vermonter—and the author is certainly a true Vermonter, even if he did graduate from a certain minor university in New Haven—would question the claim that Brattleboro is several steps up from Providence. Perhaps I’m biased, as my real-life memory of Brattleboro comes from the visit that Barbara and I made in 2014, including a delightful stay at the Latchis Hotel (which plays a cameo role in Marked Man), whereas the memory of Providence that stays in my head is of a college visit in 1964, when my parents kept on getting lost as we attempted to find our way out of the city. Yes, I’ve been to Providence more recently (once), but that’s still what’s stuck in my head.

Anyway, it’s (almost) always a pleasure to read Mayor’s police procedurals. As is the case with (almost) any well-written series, it’s helpful but not necessary to read the books in order. It’s (almost) possible to read this one as a stand-alone, concentrating just on plot or just on characterization or just on setting—your choice.

But don’t do that. You’re better off concentrating on all three. You’ll enjoy it more that way. You also may want to read my reviews of some of Mayor’s earlier books in his long-running series:

By the way, I hate that cover (see image above), but maybe it’s my own fault. A former mill—turned into a multi-family, multi-business private residence—plays a major role in the story, but this photo (or painting?) doesn’t look the least like the way I pictured the building in question as I was reading the novel. As I say, that might be my fault, as I kept picturing it like the ubiquitous Massachusetts brick mills that run from Dorchester to Lawrence to Lowell. Did Mayor really describe it like the one on the cover? You’ll just have to read the book to find out.

Categories: Books