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The Hanging Tree: A Starvation Lake Mystery (Starvation Lake Mysteries (Paperback)) Paperback – August 3, 2010
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Gruley, Chicago bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal and Edgar Award nominee for his first novel, Starvation Lake (2009), returns to Starvation, a Michigan resort town whose best days are fading in the rear-view mirror. The detective is, again, Gus Carpenter, himself faded from his glory days as a reporter with the Detroit Times. Gus is back where he started but, worse, working on a small-town newspaper with a kid boss who sneers at traditional journalism. The action is triggered by a hanging—an apparent suicide by a woman who left Starvation 20 years earlier, was back in town for six months, and then was found hanging from a tree limb. 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. --Connie Fletcher
“The Hanging Tree is a terrific story, a dark-hearted mystery entwined in a bullet-fast thriller. Gruley is one of the good ones.” —John Sandford
“The Hanging Tree is an engrossing, sure-footed mystery that manages to be both suspenseful and deeply touching.” —Gillian Flynn, Edgar nominee and New York Times Bestselling Author
“Haunting, observant, and filled with complex characters that will remind you just how much you don't trust your neighbors. The Hanging Tree will pry its way into your imagination. And it won't leave."
“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. Discriminating readers will be anxiously awaiting the third book in this promising series.” —Associated Press
“Gruley captures the hardscrabble life of a recession-rocked small town and the deep interrelations of the inhabitants while delivering complex, intriguing characters caught up in trouble. His take on contemporary journalism is Evelyn Waugh-worthy. Another winner.” —Booklist
“Absorbing. . . Gruley vividly evokes the frigid Michigan winters and the even chillier atmosphere of an insular community determined to keep its secrets.” —Publishers Weekly
“[The Hanging Tree] has it all—suspense, mystery, romance, detection, clear-eyed hometown nostalgia, professional dangers along with the other kind.” —Kirkus Reviews
Top Customer Reviews
Despite not having read the introductory novel, Starvation Lake, I wasn't to overly concerned that I was missing the crucial development of the series. Mr. Gruley's second book, The Hanging Tree takes off and hits the ground running re-introducing the main character in a passionate love affair, literally, from the opening pages. An ex-teammate's estranged wife gets the main character, Gus Carpenter, dangerously close to a real life game misconduct penalty, but still manages to toe the blue line with him helping the investigation of a woman whom they both grew up with.
Even through the eyes of the main character, Gus Carpenter, the real sympathy lies within the victim Grace McBride. Mr. Gruley was able to create a character through back story so deep that I actually felt like I was mourning her loss. As the plot develops, so does Gracie's mythology comparable to the now famous "Laura Palmer" of the Twin Peaks TV series. Most detective mysteries that I have read, the victim is usually someone expendable. But not Grace. Mr. Gruley successfully stirs the readers emotions believing that Grace McBride, the once-long lost sheep, didn't deserve the way she died. Justice for her was going to come from Gus and the family she left who loved her.Read more ›
Gruley's writing goes below the surface to explore the simple acts of betrayal, love, doubt and friendship we all harbor. His characters, even the minor ones, always have qualities and contradictions that simply ring true.
How good is this book? I write books myself and while on deadline for one, I ended up shutting myself away for a day and reading The Hanging Tree cover to cover.
The Hanging Tree is Bryan Gruley's second mystery featuring Gus Carpenter, following last year's Starvation Lake. Gruley captures the desperation, anger and hurt of a small town on the verge of total collapse, as well as the frustrations Gus feels on a daily basis about his promising journalistic career in Detroit being derailed, forcing his return home. Couple that with the never-ending resentment of many Starvation Lake residents who still hold a grudge about Gus' letting the winning goal score in a state hockey tournament some 20+ years earlier, and you can understand it's not easy being home.
Gruley is a great writer and I definitely enjoyed the twists and turns this story took. I really like Gus' character and many of the supporting characters who have appeared in both books; I can visualize many of them in my mind's eye. I was a little frustrated with this book, however, for two reasons. First, I felt as if Gruley threw every possible plot device--the estranged husband, the boss who just doesn't understand, the townspeople angry over something that happened years ago, etc.--into the story, which detracted from my full commitment to it. And second, it always frustrates me when so much in a book (or in life, for that matter) could be solved if people would just talk to one another. But instead, we had people avoiding one another, not saying how they feel, not answering the phone, etc. That being said, however, these are more my pet peeves than actual flaws in the story.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
He's got the gift. This second story in the series was every bit as good as the first. Great character development along with good hockey narrative make these hard to put down. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kindle Customer
Gruley’s hockey playing disgraced reporter Gus Carpenter finds himself enmeshed in a family tragedy –the apparent suicide of his second cousin—and a small town scandal over the... Read morePublished on April 5, 2014 by Ed Battistella
Excellent book! Love the characters! I wanted to keep reading, sorry when I finished the book. Also enjoyed his other Starvation Lake books.Published on March 12, 2014 by Amazon Customer
I really enjoyed the book and the other two in the series . Maybe a bit too much ice hockey but loved the mysteryPublished on February 12, 2014 by Dori
Face paced but again sometimes lost in the characters. Good mystery Hockey, sequella of the prostitution industry although not much graphic violence. Which satisfies me finePublished on December 30, 2013 by SSAM