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Cop by day, crime writer by night

For sheriff's deputy Archer, writing a mystery novel is all in the details.

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There are two topics that inevitably come up during mystery writer Archer Mayor's whirlwind tour of bookstores to promote the latest in his series of Joe Gunther mystery novels, which was released this fall by Grand Central Publishing.

The first concerns the obvious similarities between Mayor, a part-time sheriff's deputy and medical investigator, and his protagonist, a veteran lawman who solves major crimes for the fictional Vermont Bureau of Investigation. Both are Vermont-born and loners to some extent, but the 50-something Mayor insists that he and Gunther, who has been in his early 50s throughout the series' 18-book, 18-year run, are not the same person.

Speaking to a small audience gathered at Warner's Main Street Bookends on a recent Saturday – part of a 60-day, 90-stop tour of bookstores, most of them independent, in New England and eastern New York State – Mayor acknowledges that he and Gunther share more than few traits. Still, he says Gunther is just the vehicle through which he tells his stories of the dark underbelly of Vermont, which Mayor returned home to 27 years ago, after years of moving around.

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