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Starvation Lake : a mystery

by Bryan Gruley

Publishers Weekly Gruley's outstanding debut effortlessly incorporates his inside knowledge of both the newspaper business and his hockey avocation into a tale of violence and betrayal that will remind many of Dennis Lehane. After crossing an ethical line while writing an investigative series for the Detroit Times, reporter Gus Carpenter has returned to his hometown of Starvation Lake, Mich., to work for the local paper, whose stories mostly reflect the pedestrian and placid nature of smalltown life. That changes when evidence surfaces that the town's legendary hockey coach, Jack Blackburn, who disappeared after an apparent snowmobile accident a decade earlier, was actually murdered. Carpenter's reopening of the case, which has personal resonance for him (he'd been the goalie for the amateur boys' team Blackburn coached), shakes all sorts of skeletons loose. Gruley, the Wall Street Journal's Chicago bureau chief, has a gift for making all his characters, from the leads to the bit players, realistic. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Gus Carpenter's big-city journalistic career has gone down in flames, and he returns to Starvation Lake, a faded resort town at the northern end of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. There, he faces another ignominy: everyone in town remembers that he is the goalie who gave up the winning goal in the state ice-hockey championship more than a decade before, and many relate the town's economic slide to that loss. Soon after his return, evidence that might explain the mysterious snowmobiling death of Gus' coach is found, and as de facto editor of the local paper, Gus must pursue the truth but the cost of redemption is high, for everyone. Starvation Lake is a wonderfully polished and assured first novel. Gruley's portrayal of a struggling small town in a harsh environment rings with authenticity. His characters are believable small-town archetypes; some are self-aware, some are in denial, others are oblivious. The plot is convoluted, but Gruley maintains the suspense very effectively. Ice-hockey scenes not only advance the plot but also offer insights into the sport's culture and its importance to small, very cold towns. Many good crime novels appear every month, but few have the depth and poignancy of Starvation Lake, which deserves comparison with Dennis Lehane's Mystic River.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2009 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal The discovery of pieces of a snowmobile owned by the late Jack Blackburn, the much revered hockey coach in Starvation Lake, MI, prompts a new look into what happened ten years earlier, when Blackburn perished in the frozen water. Gus Carpenter, recently returned from Detroit after a failed attempt at working for a bigger publication, edits the local newspaper. With a young journalist, he works on the Blackburn story and uncovers some secrets no one wants exposed. In confronting the ghosts from his past and the evils of the present, Carpenter finds his moral and ethical footing. Gruley, a Michigan native, an amateur hockey player, and the Chicago bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal, has written a terrific first novel about what it means to be a journalist. Full of insider knowledge about hockey and great local color, this is not to be missed. Highly recommended for all collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.