August 18, 2011

VERMONT GRITTY (via Nic Doak):

Brattleboro: Vermont's Hotbed Of Fictional Crime (Neda Ulaby, August 1, 2011, NPR)

Brattleboro, Vt., is a bucolic town -- pricked with picturesque church steeples -- and home to a vibrant arts community. So it's an unlikely setting for gruesome murder and gritty crime, but that's just what goes on in Archer Mayor's Brattleboro-based Joe Gunther detective series. [...]

Mayor's definitely a local celebrity -- it's not uncommon for people to stop him on the street to ask for autographs. But one of the problems with setting mysteries in this quaint, red-brick Victorian town is that it's actually so nice here, says Mayor.

"Brattleboro, and Vermont in general, is such an inordinately pleasant place," Mayor says. "I'll take you to a bad part of town and you will be astonished at how pleasant it looks."

The "bad" part of town includes an old parlor organ factory, a row of somber slate buildings, and some mildly dilapidated rooming houses. Mayor calls one of them the Misery Hilton. It appeared in his book Gatekeeper, about a surge in Vermont's heroin traffic. A crumbling old cemetery sits atop a hill where Mayor says you can get "a birds eye view of what the dead can see ... if only they could." Sometimes real police work goes on in the cemetery, Mayor says.

"People do illicit things in graveyards for obvious reasons -- they're off the beaten path, a lot of people find them creepy and therefore don't visit them much," Mayor says. "So if you want to do an illicit transaction of one nature or another you might as well do it in a cemetery."

Back in downtown Brattleboro, Mayor points out Arch Street, which he says, "is really not a street at all but a crumbling mess of debris and compacted soil alongside and parallel to a curve of the railroad that runs through the backside of Brattleboro."

There are broken windows, graffiti. Maybe even a crumpled up Ben & Jerry's ice cream wrapper on the ground. This is Vermont-style gritty.

Amazon Archer Mayor Page

Posted by at August 18, 2011 9:44 AM

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