Instead of emerging from the watery depths as they did in Gruley’s notable first novel (Starvation Lake, 2009), dark secrets from the past bloom on a storied tree in the upper-Michigan midwinter.
Though she’d returned only recently after leaving Starvation Lake 18 years ago, Gracie McBride had deep roots in the little town. Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the twice-weekly Pine County Pilot, is her second cousin; his lover, sheriff’s deputy Darlene Esper, is her oldest friend. When Gracie is found hanging from a tree along with dozens of shoes young couples have tied together and tossed into the branches, Gus and Darlene’s lives are tangled with hers once more. Gus has been preoccupied with what his fellow citizens consider his vendetta against Laird Haskell, the wealthy plaintiff’s attorney whose promise to build a spanking-new hockey rink for the town seems to have been stalled by insufficient funds. But he’s swiftly engulfed in revelations of political chicanery, domestic irregularities and kinky sex that open unsavory motives for Gracie’s suicide—or was it murder?—even as they send Gus once more back into the past he can’t help sharing with his troubled town. His journey is long and winding, and by the time it’s over, readers will have covered a great deal of territory.
Gus’s second has it all—suspense, mystery, romance, detection, clear-eyed hometown nostalgia, professional dangers along with the other kind—even if it seems that not a single citizen of Starvation Lake has ever outgrown being a goalie, wingman or hockey mom.