In “The Skeleton Box,” the third of the "Starvation Lake" mysteries, author Bryan Gruley pulls off a rather remarkable triple play. First, he writes a suspenseful mystery that is virtually guaranteed to capture and solidly hold its mystery readers’ attention. Second, he creates characters who reek of realistic human faults and foibles, their dialogue so natural and authentic that we don’t even have to think about whether it’s natural and authentic. And third, Gruley so effectively draws the novel’s tone, atmosphere and mood that the reader is pulled into the darkness that envelops Starvation Lake, the town in which most of the action takes place.
The novel’s protagonist, Gus Carpenter, is a newspaper journalist whose history is checkered with high hopes and lower-than-low failures. He has tried his luck in the big city, Detroit, and then has come “crawling back on his knees” to his hometown, Starvation Lake, with only ugly controversy and occupational disaster behind him.
Carpenter soon becomes embroiled in the mess of the town’s horrid secret history of deceit and murder, a history which is doomed to repeat itself in a new series of mysterious home break-ins and the murder of his mother’s best friend -- right in his mother’s home.
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