Friday, November 17, 2023

FFB Review: Starvation Lake: A Mystery by Bryan Gruley


This is my 2009 review of the first book in a great three book series. From the massive archive here at Casa Tipple and Home Eatery Library…. 


The plan was to leave Starvation Lake, Michigan and never come back. But 1998 finds Augustus Carpenter, known to all as “Gus” back home after his successful newspaper career exploded on him in Detroit. Both he and the town are still haunted by the goal he let in close to the end of the state championship game and both have never been the same.


Now at thirty-four, Gus is backing home, once again working for the local paper, Pilot. He lives in a small apartment above the storefront news room and across the street from the local bar where his teammates frequently congregate. The same issues that faced them as boys are now part of the power struggles and conflict they have as men.


Simmering disagreements are fueled by the fire of the past when parts of a damaged snowmobile wash up on the shore at the lake. While the snowmobile seems to be the same one Coach Blackburn was driving years ago before both disappeared through a hole in the ice, it can’t possibly have made it here since that accident happened miles away. No body was ever recovered, but the assumption was that Blackburn was dead. While he probably is dead, the fact that the recovered snowmobile shows evidence of foul play ignites a local firestorm that finally explodes in a tale of deceit, treachery, and unspeakable pain.


A debut novel that packs a punch, Starvation Lake, by Bryan Gruley develops slowly through a variety of emotionally scarred and complex characters. Billed with the totally unnecessary subtitle, A Mystery, the book operates on several levels with multiple mysteries and complex multiple storylines featuring heavily flawed characters. To delve into any of this at any level would seriously impact reader enjoyment by giving away far too much information.


Suffice it to say, if you are looking for a thriller or a simplistic mystery full of lightweight characters and violent action, this is not the novel for you. However, if you are looking for a meaty novel where the characters are very human and occasionally vile, where there is plenty of back story and long descriptive scenes leading to powerful dialogue and emotional impact for the characters and readers, along with multiple mysteries, this is the book for you.



Material provided by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple © 2009, 2023


pattinase (abbott) said...

A great book.

Kevin R. Tipple said...

Yep. I have very much liked everything he has done. Seems like we are overdue for something new.