PURGATORY BAY  by Bryan Gruley


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Twelve years after a young woman’s family is killed by the mob, she orchestrates an ambitious revenge plot in Gruley’s (Bleak Harbor, 2018, etc.) action-packed novel.

Jubilee Rathman was just 17 when her parents and sister were murdered days after the Detroit Times ran a story implying that her father was a money launderer for the local mob. Former reporter Michaela "Mikey" Deming has carried the guilt for what happened to the Rathmans ever since. Twelve years after the hit, Jubilee lives behind protective walls on a private island in Purgatory Bay near Bleak Harbor, Michigan, where she has been remorselessly planning a complicated revenge scheme to punish all those she believes were involved in her family’s deaths. Her mysterious partner, Caleb, has been trained to use a fleet of weaponized drones, and she’s found a way to lure some of her targets to Bleak Harbor; Mikey and her family are coming to town for a hockey tournament. The night they arrive, Mikey’s sister goes missing, and then someone kidnaps her daughter from the rink. The local police chief, Katya Malone, and investigator Gary Langreth must fight against the clock to save the Deming family—as well as the rest of the town—from Jubilee’s wrath and to discover who was really responsible for the original tragedy. There’s so much happening in this novel—every chapter situates us in a specific time, such as "Friday, 3:12 a.m.," and then there are flashbacks to explain the past as well—that it’s easy to lose track of a few more resonant themes. Mikey’s decision to take responsibility for her actions and stop being afraid is one of these, as is the power of compassion to combat violence. It takes a long time, though, for any of the characters to earn our sympathy because of all the driving action, so for most of the novel, there is little human depth or connection.

Give up all suspension of disbelief; this is one crazy ride.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5420-9288-3
Page count: 332pp
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2019


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