Excerpt from St Albans Fire by Archer Mayor, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

St Albans Fire

A Joe Gunther Mystery

by Archer Mayor

St Albans Fire by Archer Mayor X
St Albans Fire by Archer Mayor
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Oct 2005, 304 pages
    Oct 2006, 352 pages

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Chapter 1

Bobby Cutts lay on his bed, watching the bedroom ceiling, its shadowy surface painted by the downstairs porch light in a pattern he'd known forever. This room and the barn across the road had always been his sanctuaries—places of private celebration during high times, as when Beverly Cable allowed him a kiss in the eighth grade—and harbors to which he retired in pain, as now, when Marianne had once again suggested that they should try seeing other people.

He hated that euphemism, knowing too well what it meant. Marianne and he had been dating for a year, and it had happened twice already, counting this one. In fact, he'd been the one being "seen" when they first met, as she was dumping Barry Newhouse. He remembered the groping at the drive-in, the more serious stuff on her uncle's office couch one afternoon, and finally those hours in complete silence in her bedroom as her parents slept down the hall. Recalling that night—the smells of her, the taste of her kisses, her willingness at last to let him remove all her clothes—ran at odds with his frustration now, lust interfering with indignation.

He sat up and swung his legs over the side of the bed, staring moodily out the window, his anger back on track, ignoring the winter chill radiating off the glass before him. He wondered who she was with right now, since sneaking boys into her bedroom had become a moot point, she being eighteen and her parents no longer caring. He ran a catalog of possibilities through his mind—from high school friends to some of the young men who worked on her father's farm. No one fit. Everyone fit. His own mother had told him she'd seen Marianne kissing a boy in the front seat of a car in the supermarket parking lot. In broad daylight. He'd asked if his mom had recognized the guy. She claimed not to have, but he had his doubts.

He got up abruptly and reached for his jeans, the room suddenly too tight to breathe in. The barn beckoned to him with its panoply of distractions. He'd been on this farm for all his seventeen years, making the barn as natural an environment to him as a ship might be to a man raised at sea.

And right now he needed every distraction he could stand.

Bobby made his way along the short, dark hallway to the narrow stairs leading down, the wall of framed photographs beside him a celebration of the lives sleeping all around—his smiling parents, his sister, Linda, and her husband and two children. Also, himself as a child, and later posing for the yearbook in his football uniform, crouched down, knuckles on the turf, ball tightly tucked into the curve of his other arm. A life of rural Vermont, spent on a dairy farm, as snug as that ball in the crook of a culture dating back a hundred and fifty years. Bobby Cutts, for all his present anxieties, had that if nothing else: He was a young man as firmly ensconced in his society as farming was in the only world he knew.

He paused in the kitchen to add a log to the wood stove, losing himself for a moment in the red embers at the stove's heart, the eddies of hot air reaching up for him as from the heart of a chunk of lava.

In the cluttered mudroom beyond, he removed his insulated coveralls from the hook on the wall, paying no attention to their pungent odor, and stepped into his equally soiled barn boots, all of which were banned from the rest of the house.

Encased in warm clothes, Bobby shoved the outer door open and stepped into the freezing night air, the shock of the cold a comfort to a boy who welcomed its biting familiarity.

By the porch light, he walked across the snowy yard, the soles of his boots creaking as he went, enjoying how his breath formed a cloud around his head with each exhalation.

Despite his dark mood, he paused halfway between the house and the hulking barn to take in his surroundings. His father had taught him this: Never just walk from one place to another. Take notice of what's around you. The beauty you find there is God's gift to the observant.

Copyright © 2005 by Archer Mayor

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Future Home of the Living God
    Future Home of the Living God
    by Louise Erdrich
    Louise Erdrich began Future Home of the Living God in 2002, set it aside, and picked it up again in ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Mrs. Parrish
    The Last Mrs. Parrish
    by Liv Constantine
    Amber has lived in poverty all her life, and she has had enough. Of course, wishing to have money ...
  • Book Jacket: Never Coming Back
    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee
    18 out of 23 reviewers gave Alison McGhee's Never Coming Back a rating of 4 or 5, with an average ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
If the Creek Don't Rise by Leah Weiss

A debut novel bursting with heart, honesty, and homegrown grit.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Wonder Valley
    by Ivy Pochoda

    A visionary and masterful portrait of contemporary L.A. from the author of Visitation Street.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

When men are not regretting that life is so short, they are doing something to kill time.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E Dog H I D

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.