Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review: "The Skeleton Box" by Bryan Gruley

In his third novel featuring local newspaper editor Gus Carpenter, Bryan Gruley returns to Starvation Lake, Michigan. A number of homes have been burglarized while their residents were out playing bingo, but strangely, nothing was taken from any of the houses. And then one night, a break-in at the home of Gus' mother, Bea, results in the murder of her closest friend, Phyllis, who also happens to be the mother of Gus' ex-girlfriend, deputy sheriff Darlene. Bea, whose dementia has been getting worse and worse, appears to know something about what happened, but she is unwilling to share the truth.

With the help of his new reporter, Luke Whistler, who left the Detroit Free Press to head north in search of more old-fashioned reporting, Gus tries to figure out who killed Phyllis. He wonders what connection Breck, the mysterious stranger who has taken up residence in the makeshift religious camp that has suddenly sprouted up on Gus' friend Tatch's land, has to the burglaries and the murder. And when his mother gives him a lockbox she has kept hidden for years, what he finds leads to more questions, more shocking discoveries, and a lot of potential pain.

I've really come to enjoy Bryan Gruley's Starvation Lake mysteries. Much like Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series and others like it, I love the opportunity to get to know a town and its residents, as they factor in each book. The Skeleton Box is another well-written addition to the series, and it definitely kept me guessing. While it sounds as if Gruley planned this as a trilogy, and he certainly worked to tie up a few loose ends toward the end of the book, I really hope he reconsiders and takes us back to Starvation Lake again. Gus Carpenter is a terrific character and I'd hate not to read any more books featuring him again!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the kind words! (and love the reference to summer highland falls, probably my favorite billy joel song)