Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Hanging Tree-Bryan Gruley

The Hanging Tree
Bryan Gruley
Touchstone, Aug 3 2010, $15.00
ISBN: 9781416563648

Pine County executive editor Gus Carpenter of the newspaper the Pilot reports to Philo Beach, an editor seven years younger than him. Philo’s uncle, the News North CEO, directed his nephew to get the newspaper’s finances in line. The latest big story is that Grace McBride committed suicide by hanging herself on the Hanging Tree. Grace went down state from her Michigan small town for a number of years before coming home.

The townsfolk are less interested in the hometown girl’s death now that there is a new ice hockey rink coming to Starvation that Laird Haskell, who moved there with his wife and brilliant hockey goalie son, is funding. Gus hears rumors that contractors working on the skating rink are not being paid and Laird needs a $100,000 loan from the town until he can fix his finances. Determined to prove Grace did not kill herself, Gus investigates learning the woman was involved with some nasty folks from Detroit. He follows the trail as if Grace set it up for him to do so. Her clues lead full circle back to their hometown where Gus, his girlfriend Deputy Sheriff Darlene Esper and Philo team up and try to bring justice to a dead woman who never had any when she lived.

The return to Starvation Lake is an exhilarating whodunit as the investigative lead finds himself with a happy and a strange bedfellow. Gus is an unusual individual in that he does not allow whatever life tosses at him to get inside his stomach; readers can visualize him singing Matthew Strider’s tune “Ain’t Nothing Going to Break My Stride.” Readers will join him and his two sleuthing partners in this entertaining Michigan murder mystery.

Harriet Klausner

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