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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Book Review of "The Hanging Tree"

The Hanging Tree

By Bryan Gruley

Touchstone Books

August, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-6364-8

Paperback, 336 pp., $15.00

Reviewed by Theodore Feit

This second book in the series continues a look at the small town of Starvation Lake and the people who live in that northern Michigan burg as seen through the eyes of Gus Carpenter, the executive editor of the bi-weekly hometown newspaper. The plot involves the apparent suicide of his second cousin, Gracie, who left the town about the same time Gus did years before for Detroit. Gus, of course, returned when he lost his job with the Detroit Times, Gracie only recently.

But what Gracie did in the big city is a big mystery, as is the question of why she had returned to Starvation Lake. At first, it cannot be determined whether she died by suicide or had been murdered. She was found hanging from an oak tree from which townspeople and kids routinely hung paired shoes, just like many carve initials into trees. It falls to Gus to look into Gracie's past to determine the secrets of the present.

Just an admittedly trite aside: the novel truly starts off with a "bang." And while there are elements of sex and violence, they are relatively mild. More important is the analytical drive bringing the story along to its conclusion. And once again, for hockey and journalism fans, Mr. Gruley has presented, with sensitivity and deep first-hand knowledge, an intensive look into the relationships of small town residents, family, and what makes a community the size of Starvation Lake tick. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. I read his first book and I'm looking forward to reading this one just as soon as my TBR pile is shorter than I am.