Their son is gone. Deep down, they think they’re to blame.
Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears.
When Danny’s mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there’s also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they’ve kept hidden—even from one another—have led to Danny’s abduction?
As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he’s taken from them forever.
“Bryan Gruley’s Bleak Harbor is an electric bolt of suspense, packed with twists and surprises. Gruley’s plot races along, powered by characters—big and small—who truly crackle. A masterful follow-up to his Starvation Lake trilogy.” —Gillian Flynn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl
“The myth of the happy family! Bryan Gruley dives deep into twisted psyches, well-hidden secrets, and dark, explosive desires. Welcome to Bleak Harbor. Be afraid.” —New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen
“A fascinating calamity of flawed characters, each hiding secrets. His portrayal of an autistic boy’s kidnapping, and the efforts to rescue him, gradually and brilliantly expose the decidedly dark underbelly of both the town and those living in it. I dare you to put the book down. I couldn’t.” —Robert Dugoni, #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author
“Vivid, spellbinding, and laced with tension, Bleak Harbor’s labyrinthine mystery is packed with characters so real you want to buy them a beer—or hide under your bed to pray they don’t come for you. If you’re not reading Bryan Gruley, you’re missing out.” —Marcus Sakey, bestselling author of Afterlife and the Brilliance trilogy
“The best book Gruley has ever written and unlike any other crime book I’ve ever read.” —Steve Hamilton, two-time Edgar Award–winning author of Exit Strategy
The STARVATION LAKE series
“Starvation Lake abides, and so do the hardy, gritty, sometimes hapless, and thoroughly memorable denizens of this wonderfully imagined small town.”
In the dead of a Michigan winter, pieces of a snowmobile wash up near the crumbling small town of Starvation Lake—the same snowmobile that went down with Starvation’s legendary hockey coach years earlier. But everybody knows Coach Blackburn’s accident happened five miles away on a different lake. As rumors buzz about mysterious underground tunnels, the evidence from the snowmobile says one thing: murder.
Gus Carpenter, editor of the local newspaper, has recently returned to Starvation after a failed attempt to make it big at the Detroit Times. In his youth, Gus was the goalie that let a state championship get away, crushing Coach’s dreams and earning the town’s enmity. Now he’s investigating the murder of his former coach. But even more unsettling to Gus are the holes in the town’s past, and the gnawing suspicion that those holes may conceal some dark and disturbing secrets—secrets that some of the people closest to him may have killed to keep.
"The Hanging Tree is even better than Gruley’s Starvation Lake … richer and deeper and more emotionally satisfying, and the town is described with a defter, more assured hand." - Chicago Tribune
"Gruley’s absorbing follow-up to Starvation Lake … vividly evokes the frigid Michigan winters and the even chillier atmosphere of an insular community determined to keep its secrets." -Publishers Weekly
"Gruley captures the hardscrabble life of a recession-rocked small town and the deep interrelationships of the inhabitants while delivering complex, intriguing characters caught up in trouble. His take on contemporary journalism is Evelyn Waugh–worthy. Another winner." -Booklist
THE HANGING TREE
They found her hanging in the shoe tree at the edge of town …
So begins Bryan Gruley’s sequel to Starvation Lake. When Gracie McBride, the wild girl who had left town eighteen years earlier, is found dead in an apparent suicide shortly after her homecoming, it sends shockwaves through her native Starvation Lake.
Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the Pine County Pilot, sets out to solve the mystery with the help of his old flame and now girlfriend, Pine County Sheriff’s Deputy Darlene Esper. As Gus and Darlene investigate, they can’t help but question if Gracie’s troubled life really ended in suicide or if the suspicious crime scene evidence adds up to murder.
But in such a small town it’s impossible to be an impartial investigator. Gracie was Gus’s second cousin, Darlene’s best friend, and the lover of Gus’s oldest pal, Soupy Campbell. Yet with all the bad blood between Gus and Gracie over the years, Gus would rather deal with other problems. His employer is trying to push him out, the locals are annoyed that his stories have halted construction on a new hockey rink, and Darlene’s estranged husband has returned to reclaim his wife.
When Gus tries to retrace Gracie’s steps to discover what happened to her in the years she was away from Starvation Lake, he’s forced to return to Detroit, the scene of his humiliating past. And though he’s determined to find out what drove Gracie back home to Starvation Lake, Gus is unprepared for the terrible secrets he uncovers.
The second book in Bryan Gruley’s irresistible Starvation Lake series, The Hanging Tree is a compelling story about family and friendship, sex and violence, and the failure of love to make everything right.
THE SKELETON BOX
A series of mysterious break-ins is plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. Someone is slipping into the homes of elderly people when they’re out playing Bingo. Oddly, the intruders take nothing, despite evidence that they rifle through personal files.
Worry turns to panic when a break-in leads to the death of a beloved citizen. Phyllis Bontrager is found dead in the home of her best friend, Bea Carpenter, mother of Gus Carpenter. Bea, suffering from worsening dementia and under the influence of sleeping pills, remembers little of the break-in. Her son, editor of the local newspaper, must pursue a terrible story: the death of a woman he has known all his life, who also happens to be the mother of his ex-girlfriend, Darlene.
With the help of Luke Whistler, an ex-Detroit Free Press reporter who came north looking for slower days and some old-fashioned newspaper work, Gus sets out to uncover the truth behind Mrs. B’s death and the “Bingo Night Break-Ins.” The secrets he’s determined to unearth could forever change Gus’s perceptions about Starvation Lake and even his own family.
“Bryan Gruley is a gifted writer, and in The Skeleton Box he’s turned his gifts to the secrets and lies which ultimately rip apart Starvation Lake. Gus Carpenter, editor of a local paper on its last legs, finds himself in the center of a murder inquiry when his mother’s best friend is killed – and his mother becomes a prime suspect. Gruley writes elegiacally about small town America, but his deepest love is for its newspaper.” - Sara Paretsky, New York Times bestselling author
"Haunting ... Better late than never if you haven't started reading or recommending Gruley's outstanding trilogy. Consider crossover reading for Richard Russo fans." - Library Journal
"Bryan Gruley has a way of working magic into a small town mystery and Skeleton Box is further proof. Gruley is a rising star of the genre.” - Crimespree Magazine
"Bracing ... complex ... There's no mistaking Gruley's fierce love for his frigid hamlet." - Kirkus Reviews