Bryan Gruley is another new to me author. The Skeleton Box is the third book in Gruley's Starvation Lake series.
Starvation Lake is a quiet, small town in Michigan where nothing dangerous really ever happens, but a recent series of break-ins has the town worried. The break-ins are occurring on bingo nights - when most of the town's elderly residents are out. Nothing is ever taken, but their belonging are being rifled through. The pressure is on for the sheriff to solve these cases - it's a re-election year. And the stakes are upped when a break-in turns to murder.
Gus Carpenter, editor of the local paper is covering the biggest story of his career. The victim is someone near and dear to him. And as he digs deeper into the story, he finds it taking him places he never expected - and much closer to home than he could have imagined.
Gus is Gruley's recurring protagonist. I really liked Gus - he just came across as real, down to earth and believable. He's dealing with job stress/cutbacks, an elderly mother with the beginnings of dementia and an on again off again relationship - with a local deputy. He's not painted as an infallible, intrepid reporter, but just a regular guy.
The mystery in The Skeleton Box is timely and features a good solid plot. But for me, it was the town of Starvation Lake and its' residents that took centre stage. Characterization is Gruley's strong point. I loved all the colourful citizens. My only problem was that everyone has a nickname as well. I had a wee bit of trouble keeping everyone straight.(Take note - Bryan Gruley's nickname is Grules!) Gruley has painted a vivid, accurate portrait of the town. The River Rats hockey team, their players and the town's support is so spot on I thought Gruley was writing about my small town. ( Go Irish!) The various hockey analogies used were quite effective.
Even though I have missed the first two in the series, I was able to enjoy this book as a stand alone. (But it would be definitely worth looking up the first two) Folksy is a term that popped to mind when I was trying to think of how to describe Gruley's writing. Read an excerpt of The Skeleton Box.
"Bryan Gruley is a reporter at large for Bloomberg News. Formerly the Chicago bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal, Gruley shared in the Pulitzer Prize given to the newspaper for coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has won the Anthony, Barry and Strand Awards and was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel." You can find Bryan Gruley on Twitter and on Facebook.
Sound like a book you'd like to read? Well, thanks to the nice folks at Simon and Schuster, I have a copy to give away. Open to US and Canada, no po boxes please. Simply leave a comment to be entered. Ends Aug 4/12.