Bryan Gruley is back and, dare I say, better than ever with his Starvation Lake sequel, The Hanging Tree. Admittedly I had prepared myself for the potential let down that tends to trail a bang-up debut, but was instead gifted with an agile follow-up that will likely establish Gruley as a steady player in the genre.
Hockeyman Gus Carpenter is back on the rink and back on the job as the editor of the struggling Pine County Pilot. When he finds his second cousin hanging from the town’s famed tree in an apparent suicide, his reporter’s instincts tell him things are not quite as they appear. As Gus pieces together his cousin’s past he becomes, once again, the man Starvation Lake just loves to hate.
The Hanging Tree is ramped up in every way and the dialogue is at full tilt. Gruley seems more comfortable with his voice this time around and the result brings a hard core credibility to his characters both on and off the ice. Serving up social commentary with grit and righteous humor, Gruley gets his punches in while keeping up his mystery’s momentum.
No worries for those of you who didn’t catch Starvation Lake; The Hanging Tree stands firmly on its own. If you have read Gruley’s first in the series, the familiarity is an added bonus. A fast-paced read, The Hanging Tree moves from the still waters of Starvation Lake to the tougher tides of Detroit, leaving pure pleasure in it’s wake. Keep your eyes open for Gruley’s next book in the series, tentatively titled The Skeleton Box, which is expected to release next fall.
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-Post by Megan Shaffer
NLR’s review of Starvation Lake