The sequel to the Edgar nominated, STARVATION LAKE, Gruley’s new novel is just as haunting and stylistic as the first. When Gracie McBride, the wild girl who had left town eighteen years earlier, is found dead in an apparent suicide shortly after her homecoming, it sends shock waves through her native Starvation Lake. Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the Pine County Pilot, sets out to solve the mystery with the help of his old flame and now girlfriend, Pine County sheriff deputy Darlene Esper. As Gus and Darlene investigate, they can’t help but question if Gracie’s troubled life really ended in suicide or if the suspicious crime-scene evidence adds up to murder.
As is the case in most small towns, there is always more to the story and everybody is connected somehow. Not only is Gracie’s fate the hot topic of coffee conversation in the local diner, her death matters to the main women in Gus’ life. Gracie was his cousin and her death matters to his mother and she was his main squeeze’s bestfriend…discovering what led to Gracie’s death proves more than just a news story that Gus must write about for the town’s local paper, The Pilot. As he begins to investigate the clues surrounding her death, Gus must travel down old roads that lead to his past and face some of the embarrassment he thought was more manageable in the small town of Starvation Lake.
There is something I love about Starvation Lake that I can’t quite put my finger on. The quirky residents are what I would call a more normal version of “Twin Peaks” and Gracie was one of their “Laura Palmer’s”. Gruley’s characters are excellent and engaging. I love Gus and his relationship with Darlene. There is a scene at the beginning of chapter one where the two characters are interacting playfully and I could see the whole scene so vividly in my mind and was blushing a bit by the intimacy that I was witnessing. Gruley really captures the essence of these small town characters in the desriptions he has so skillfully constructed.