Monday, June 11, 2012


First line: (of Chapter 2; Chapter 1 is a news article) "The first knock at the door of dressing room 3 came as I was scooping a beer out of a plastic bucket of ice."

In the third book of the Starvation Lake series, Gus Carpenter finds himself in the midst of a "treasure" hunt when someone breaks into his mother's home and murders Phyllis Bontrager.

There have been a series of "Bingo Night B&Es" in Starvation, but the perpetrator isn't stealing anything. Then when the culprit breaks into Bea Carpenter's house, he's surprised to find someone there. Bea is sleeping but Phyllis interrupts the intruder and pays with her life.

An anonymous tip begins to shine suspicion on a group of religious folks living in trailers on  Roy "Tatch" Dobrick's land. They have a new member who seems to be taking control of the group and initiating some bothersome behaviors, like challenging the city's land taxation of the group and organizing everyone to dig in search of a "septic field."

Sheriff Aho, meanwhile, is in fear of losing the next election, and thereby his job, so he's overcompensating by arresting everyone in suspicion of killing Phylllis. And when one of those people is Gus's own mother, he goes on a search for the real killer. In his wildest dreams, Gus never imagined the investigation to lead him where it does.

It's been a couple of years since Bryan Gruley's last book, and THE SKELETON BOX is well worth that wait. Gruley delivers another stellar contribution to his series revolving around an amateur hockey-playing journalist in the town of Starvation Lake, Michigan.

Gus's former cub reporter Joanie has moved on to bigger papers and bigger cities, but still makes an appearance in the book.  And Gruley introduces new characters in the form of Whistler, Gus's new reporter, and "Tatch," Gus's fellow goalie from youth hockey.  The real star of THE SKELETON BOX, however, is Gus's mother, Bea. As her character is flushed out in the pages of the novel, Gruley's talent for character development shines. Gruley also has a knack for leading readers astray. You'll start to feel as though you have the mystery solved, the villain uncovered, and then realize it is only the tip of the iceberg.

The plot of THE SKELETON BOX, like its predecessors, is a complexity of layers. The authenticity of his characters helps in that complexity; authentic people are, after all, complex. But the events of the plot take the reader in a multitude of directions, both geographically and through time. Unlike a long car ride, however, the reader isn't left feeling like, "are we there yet?" Instead the reader is anxiously devouring the scenery, eagerly anticipating the destination but imbibing all the richness along the way.

One of my personal favorite elements of Gruley's writing in this series is his use of hockey metaphor. Not being a big hockey fan, I am fascinated by the fact that he can draw me in with unique imagery. Often sports metaphors fall flat; they're cliche and drab, but Gruley's metaphors pop; they're vivid and mesmerizing:

"A feeling came over me, a feeling I knew well from playing goalie.   You're in the net and a guy is bearing down on you and you know you have the angle cut off but he's a sniper who can detect the tiniest gap you've unwittingly left between your legs or under one of your arms, so you tighten up from head to toe and slide out another six inches to cut off even more of his angle.

Then his stick unwinds and follows through and you feel the puck hit you at almost the same instant that you realize you saw it, or at least a black blur that must have been it, and you know you have it but you're not sure where, maybe your glove, maybe your gut, maybe your crotch, maybe beneath a leg pad, and you wrap yourself in to a tuck while the shooter crashes in and your defensemen scramble around looking for the puck.

You're terrified that it will flop out from wherever you're holding it and lie there for the shooter or one of his teammates to slap into the net. You feel the fear in knowing that you have hold of something, but you don't really know where it is, and you might lose it before you ever get control. And if you let that happen, then it will be your fault, and your fault alone. Because it is your job to keep the puck out of your net. You and only you."

THE SKELETON BOX - and its predecessors - are cerebral crime novels. Gruley takes his readers inside the minds of his characters, poking and prodding. This approach results in readers connecting with the characters and examining their own thoughts, motivations, emotions and...skeleton boxes.

Gruley leaves his protagonist with a bit of uncertainty and I hope that means more to come in the town of Starvation Lake. While I hope the wait for that "more to come" isn't as long as it was between books two and three, if the product is as grand as THE SKELETON BOX, you won't hear any complaints from me.

THE SKELETON BOX is available now in hardcover from Touchstone Books (ISBN: 978-1-4165-6366-2). Rich Orlow narrated the first two books in this series on audio for Recorded Books and I hope that means he will continue with this one as he did an outstanding job with STARVATION LAKE and THE HANGING TREE. THE SKELETON BOX is not, however, available in audio format at this date.



2011 2012 2013 Ace Atkins Adrian McKinty Agnete Friis Alafair Burke Alan Bradley Alan Glynn Alan Orloff Alex Berenson Alex Dryden Alexandra Sokoloff Andrew Grant Andrew Gross Anne Zouroudi Annie Barrows Ariana Franklin Arne Dahl Attica Locke audiobook jukebox Audiobooks author events Author Q/A Barry Eisler Bernard Cornwell Beth Ann Fennelly Bill Cameron Bill Crider Bill Loehfelm Bill Pronzini blog tour Book Events Book News Brad Meltzer Brad Parks Brent Ghelfi Brett Battles Brian Azzarello Brian Freeman Brian McGilloway Bryan Gruley C. J. Box C.J. West Camilla Läckberg Cara Black Carl Hiaasen Carla Buckley Carlos Ruiz Zafon Carter Wilson Catriona McPherson Charles Cumming Charlie Huston Charlie Newton Chevy Stevens Chris Grabenstein Chris Holm Chris Kluwe Christa Faust Christopher Reich Christopher Rice Chuck Greaves CJ Lyons Claude Berube Colin Cotterill Cozy Mystery Craig Johnson Craig McDonald CRCRC crime caper Crime Fiction Crime Writers Caught Recommending Crime CWCRC D.A. Mishani Dana Cameron Daniel Palmer Daniel Silva DATW Dave Barry David Baldacci David Corbett David Ellis David Handler David Hayward David Morrell David Rosenfelt Deborah Coonts Deborah Crombie Declan Burke Denise Hamilton Denise Mina Dennis Lehane Detective Fiction Diane Stuckart Don Bruns Don Winslow Donald E Westlake Donato Carrisi Douglas Corleone Duane Swierczynski dystopian Earl Emerson ebook Ed Lynskey Edoardo Ballerini Elizabeth Hand Elizabeth Haynes Emma Donoghue Eric Beetner F. Paul Wilson FFB Five on Friday Focus Features Forensic Science Foul Play Books Francine Mathews Gabriella Herkert Gar Anthony Haywood Gayle Lynds General Fiction George Guidall George Pelecanos Gillian Flynn Graham Brown Gregg Hurwitz Hallie Ephron Hank Phillippi Ryan Harlan Coben Harley Jane Kozak Harper Lee Herman Koch Heroes and Villains Hilary Davidson Historical Fiction Hugh Laurie Ian Rankin Inger Frimansson Ingrid Thoft international thriller J.J. Myers J.T. Ellison James Barney James Conway James Crumley James DuPont James Fredericks James Grippando James Lee Burke James LePore James O. Born Jamie Freveletti Jan Burke Jane Cleland Janet Evanovich January LaVoy Jassy Mackenzie Jed Rubenfeld Jeff Abbott Jeff Woodman Jeffery Deaver Jeffrey Cohen Jeffrey Siger Jennifer McMahon JIAB2011 JIAM2013 Jill Thompson Jo Nesbø Joelle Charbonneau John Connolly John Grisham John Hart John Lescroart John Sandford John Shannon John Verdon Johnny Shaw Jon Land Jonathan Hayes Jonathan Kellerman Jonathan Schuppe Joseph Finder Joseph Wallace Joseph Wambaugh Josh Bazell Josh Corin Joy Castro Julia Heaberlin Julia Pomeroy Julia Spencer-Fleming Julie Hyzy Juliet Blackwell Karen Fossum Karen Olson Karin Slaughter Katherine Kellgren Keith Thomson Kelli Stanley Kelly Braffet Ken Bruen Ken Isaacson Kevin Guilfoile Kimberly McCreight Lachlan Smith Laura Lippman Laurie R King Lawrence Block Lee Child Left Coast Crime Legal Thriller Lene Kaaberbøl Lenny Kleinfeld Les Roberts Liad Shoham Libby Hellmann Linda Castillo Linda Fairstein Linwood Barclay Lisa Ballantyne Lisa Black Lisa Brackmann Lisa Gardner Lisa Lutz Lisa Unger Literary Mystery Lori Roy Lou Berney Louis Bayard Louise Erdrich Louise Penny Louise Ure MacLeod Andrews Marcia Clark Marcus Sakey Mark Billingham Mark Gimenez Mark Hammer Mark Pryor Mark Sullivan Markus Zusak Martin Limon Martyn Waites Mary Higgins Clark Matt Coyle Matthew Dicks Matthew Pearl Matthew Quirk Medical Thriller Meg Gardiner Megan Abbott Memoirs Meredith Cole MfM 2011 Michael Chabon Michael Connelly Michael Harvey Michael Koryta Michael Lister Michael Stanley Michael Van Rooy Michael Wiley Michelle Gagnon Middle Grade Mike Lawson military thriller Murder and Mayhem in Muskego Narrator Interviews Nevada Barr Nonfiction novella NPM Oliver Harris Owen Laukkanen p.i. fiction paranormal Paranormal Thriller Pat Conroy Paul Levine Pete Larkin Peter Berkrot Peter Robinson PI Fiction poetry Police Procedural political thriller Psychological Thriller R.J. Ellory Ralph Cosham Raymond Chandler Rebecca Cantrell Reed Farrel Coleman Reg E. Cathey Review review copy Richard Lange Ridley Pearson Robert B. Parker Robert Crais Robert Dugoni Robert Fate Robert Greer Robert Gregory Browne Robert Pobi Robin Burcell Rochelle Staab romantic suspense Rosemary Harris Ross Macdonald Rupinder Gill Ruth Rendell Ryan David Jahn S. J. Watson S.J. Rozan Sandra Ruttan Sara Gruen Sara Henry Sara Paretsky Sarah Weinman Sasha Abramsky Sci-Fi scientific thriller Scott Turow Sean Black Sean Chercover Sean Doolittle Shane Gericke Shelf Awareness review Short Stories Simon Lewis Simon Prebble Simon Vance Simon Wood Six-word Memoirs Sophie Hannah Sophie Littlefield Spencer Quinn spy thriller Stefanie Pintoff Stephen Cannell Stephen Coonts Stephen Jay Schwartz Stephen King Stephen White Steve Forman Steve Hamilton Steve Hockensmith Steve Mosby Steve Ulfelder Steven Forman Stieg Larsson Stuart Macbride Sue Ann Jaffarian Sue Grafton Susan Arnout Smith Suspense/Mystery T. Jefferson Parker Tania Carver Tasha Alexander Tess Gerritsen theme week Theresa Schwegel Thomas Holland Thomas Kaufman Thomas Young Thriller Tim Dorsey Tim Maleeny Timothy Hallinan tlc book tours Todd Ritter Tom Franklin Tom Piccirilli Tom Schreck Toni McGee Causey Tony Hays Tony Hillerman Trevanian Truman Capote Val McDermid Victor Gischler Walter Mosley Warren Ellis Wayne Arthurson Will Lavender William Kent Krueger Xe Sands xuni author Yasmina Khadra Young Adult Young Readers Yrsa Sigurdardóttir Zoë Sharp

Great Indie Bookstores


An amazing collection of authors!

TLC Book Tours

Traffic Map

FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed

Google+ Followers

Our Blogger Templates Web Design

  © Blogger templates 'Neuronic' by 2008

Back to TOP