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The Skeleton Box: A Starvation Lake Mystery (Starvation Lake Mysteries) Hardcover – June 5, 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 54 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“Bryan Gruley is a gifted writer, and in The Skeleton Box he's turned his gifts to the secrets and lies which ultimately rip apart Starvation Lake. Gus Carpenter, editor of a local paper on its last legs, finds himself in the center of a murder inquiry when his mother's best friend is killed - and his mother becomes a prime suspect. Gruley writes elegiacally about small town America, but his deepest love is for its newspaper.” —Sara Paretsky

“Gruley knows how to drag you kicking and screaming into a story so gripping that you’ll probably devour it in one gulp.” Chicago Tribune

“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

“Bryan Gruley is off to a phenomenal start!” —Michael Connelly

“A major talent.” —Harlan Coben

“Bryan Gruley: Remember the name. You should be hearing it often in the future." —The San Diego Union-Tribune

From the Author

I didn't set out to write a trilogy, but realized as I was finishing THE SKELETON BOX that I had written an accidental one. I hope you enjoy all three books. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Starvation Lake Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1 edition (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416563660
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416563662
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,395,288 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By michael a. draper VINE VOICE on June 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Starvation Lake is a small community in upper Michigan with many elderly residents. Monday night bingo is a main source of entertainment and gossip for this group.

Someone has been breaking into the homes of elderly residents on Monday nights. Up to now, they didn't seem to be taking anything. However, Gus Carpenter, editor of the "Pilot," learns that his mother's home has been broken into. Her friend and neighbor, who was looking after her, has been killed.

With small town politics, the sheriff is running for re-election. His challenger is using the break-ins and murder as a political tool. He claims that the sheriff isn't doing a good job, should be voted out of office and that he is the man to replace him. This could effect Gus's sometimes girlfriend, who is a sheriff's deputy.

The only clue about the home invader is the name of a former priest who had been at the local parish when a young nun disappeared in 1944. When this comes out, some officials wonder if the Catholic Church could have a hand in the break-ins.

Much of the novel's enjoyment comes from the narrative voice of Gus Carpenter. There is also good dialogue and in many scenes the reader can visualize being right there in the action.

There is an interesting sub-plot concerning the history of the young nun and the priest.

Beneath the central story is the fact that the town is heading toward a possible state hockey championship and one of the players becomes a pawn for a religious group.

This is a well written, smoothly plotted mystery novel with good characteriztion and an interesting plot.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
In his third novel featuring local newspaper editor Gus Carpenter, Bryan Gruley returns to Starvation Lake, Michigan. A number of homes have been burglarized while their residents were out playing bingo, but strangely, nothing was taken from any of the houses. And then one night, a break-in at the home of Gus' mother, Bea, results in the murder of her closest friend, Phyllis, who also happens to be the mother of Gus' ex-girlfriend, deputy sheriff Darlene. Bea, whose dementia has been getting worse and worse, appears to know something about what happened, but she is unwilling to share the truth.

With the help of his new reporter, Luke Whistler, who left the Detroit Free Press to head north in search of more old-fashioned reporting, Gus tries to figure out who killed Phyllis. He wonders what connection Breck, the mysterious stranger who has taken up residence in the makeshift religious camp that has suddenly sprouted up on Gus' friend Tatch's land, has to the burglaries and the murder. And when his mother gives him a lockbox she has kept hidden for years, what he finds leads to more questions, more shocking discoveries, and a lot of potential pain.

I've really come to enjoy Bryan Gruley's Starvation Lake mysteries. Much like Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight series and others like it, I love the opportunity to get to know a town and its residents, as they factor in each book. The Skeleton Box is another well-written addition to the series, and it definitely kept me guessing. While it sounds as if Gruley planned this as a trilogy, and he certainly worked to tie up a few loose ends toward the end of the book, I really hope he reconsiders and takes us back to Starvation Lake again. Gus Carpenter is a terrific character and I'd hate not to read any more books featuring him again!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I got turned on to this series a few years ago by a good friend who's no longer with us. All 3 books in the Starvation Lake series have been absolute first rate reads, and though another reviewer did not share my viewpoint, if you like Steve Hamilton's Alex McKnight books you should definitely give these a try. They are on par with the best in the McKnight series. (I keep wondering how a good born & raised Ohio Buckeye girl became so enamored of these Michigan reads!) It's always interesting to me how the past can come back and bite you in the butt as it does in this story. Skeletons always have a way of falling out of the closet and they do big time in this book. I highly recommend this book and the other two, STARVATION LAKE and THE HANGING TREE.
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Format: Hardcover
As I have said before, if you combine hockey and murder, then the book is guaranteed to be an ideal fit for me. There is just something about small town hockey that draws me in. Now granted, the murder part and the history that got us there is not kid stuff. So in your mind, you will have to separate the two. If you are easily offended by the wrong doings of certain members of the Catholic Church, you might want to avoid this book altogether. Just a bit of forewarning.

Weekly bingo night has taken a bad turn, as the residences of Starvation Lake are off at their weekly social event; someone is breaking into their homes. Not stealing, just rifling through as if they are looking for something. What is most curious, the homes all belong to childhood girlfriends.

Bea Carpenter has begun her slow decent into dementia and her best friend, Phyllis Bontrager, has decided to stay with her this evening. The burglar did not expect anyone to be home and when Phyllis surprises him, bad goes to worse quickly.

Being the mother of his ex-girlfriend Darlene, Gus Carpenter has taken the loss personally. If it were not for him asking for her help with his mother, Phyllis would not have been there. Would not have lost her life, so Gus has taken on a personal search for the killer. As he took on this investigation, what he did not expect was that his mother was hiding a very old secret. A secret that had begun when a beloved Nun mysterious disappeared from Starvation Lake.

Starvation Lake, Michigan is changing. A religious group lead by an odd man has moved into trailers on Tatche's property, Luke Whistler a reporter from Detroit has moved into Gus's newspaper and a small town boy is finding out things about his mother that he wished could have stayed buried.
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