Bryan Gruley, who is a reporter-at-large for the Bloomberg News, has been one of my favorite mystery writers ever since I read his first book, 'Starvation Lake'. Set in the small, hockey-playing town of Starvation Lake, Michigan, his first two books, including 'The Hanging Tree', revolve around Gus Carpenter, formerly a news reporter from Detroit who, in disgrace, returns home and becomes the editor-in-chief of the town's newspaper. Small communities harbor big secrets, and it is Gus' job to sort out the truth from lies and get his story in print before someone beats him to it.
When I finished the first two novels (which, by the way, I couldn't set down), Mr. Gruley had found a new fan. So, when his new book, 'The Skeleton Box', landed on my desk, I was ready to dive into another engrossing read.
And, yes, another mystery. A great mystery, in fact.
When a series of break-ins occur at the homes of Starvation Lake's elderly residents and ends in murder, it is up to Gus to investigate and report on the most difficult story of his life. During his search for the truth, Gus not only discovers secrets and lies regarding the long-buried mystery of a missing nun, but learns that his mother knows more than she is willing to admit.
I have grown to love the odd residents of Starvation Lake. Darlene, the cop, and Gus' childhood love. Mrs. B., mother of Darlene, and Gus' mother's best friend. Even Dingus, the sheriff, is vivid in my mind. All of Gus' hockey buddies either make me laugh, cry, or reach for a beer. Mr. Gruley has brought to life a series of engaging characters, most who have earned this reader's sympathy and, sometimes, antipathy.
By the time you finish the first two books, and then open the third, you will feel as if you are coming home to a little town full of murder, mystery, mayhem...and hockey.
Just like Gus.