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.

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Praise for The Hanging Tree

"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