Mysterious, Oct 2003, 23.95, 296 pp.
The Governor of Vermont directs his state's Bureau of Investigation to enter the war against drugs when recent crimes shows a massive increase in drug trafficking. The interrelationships between the various layers of police forces fail to unite as dissonance over jurisdiction rules. Desperate to carry out his state's executive officer's order, VBI Second in Command Joe Gunther sends Detective Sammie Martens undercover as drug distributor Greta Novak. She persuades the Massachusetts mob that runs the Vermont business that she is the right person to organize trafficking in an efficient and effective manner.
Meanwhile a convenience store robbery leads to the discovery that Laurie Davis, niece of Joe's long-time lover, has been committing armed robberies to support her heroin habit. Now Laurie is in a coma in Brattleboro Hospital as this time the storekeeper shot her. Another VBI detective Lester Spinney realizes that in spite of his occupation, his teenage son is a user. To VBI, the war on drugs has turned personal.
The Joe Gunther police procedurals can always be counted on to provide the audience with an insightful look at law enforcement. GATEKEEPER is an entertaining look at the war on drugs from a state, local, and personal perspective (wonder what happened to the federal war – did we declare victory?). Though not quite as exciting as some of Joe's previous cases, readers will appreciate the deep look at jurisdiction issues, the drug pyramid scheme, and how no family, even those of cops, seems immune from usage. GATEKEEPER is a strong tale that would be the best of most sub-genre authors, but more at the B+ level for superstar Archer Mayor.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner