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As with “Starvation Lake” before it, “The Hanging Tree” is an exceptionally well-written novel by an author who has mastered the conventions of his genre.
…a masterpiece of detective fiction, with the right amount of blind alleys that leave the outcome always in doubt. The author, who is the Chicago bureau chief for The Wall Street Journal, has topped his first book while capturing the essence of a hockey-crazy Michigan small town.
Enthralling … briskly paced with in-depth character studies, The Hanging Tree surpasses even Starvation Lake.
If Richard Russo, one of the grand chroniclers of the intricacies of small-town American life, decided to write crime fiction, he might produce something like Bryan Gruley’s The Hanging Tree … with portraits of complex, compelling people doing their best, and worst, to make their ways in the world in down-sinking times.
The real maturity … is Gruley’s use of emotional power – his depiction of Gracie and Gus and their relationship to the people around them, including Gus’ mother, is beautifully done. The end of the book made me cry, which for me is high praise. You won’t forget Gracie McBride anytime soon yourself.