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Starvation Lake (Starvation Lake Series #1)

Average Rating 4
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

10 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

"Starvation Lake" is an excellent and unusual first novel!

I heard an interview with this Writer, Bryan Gruley, on WGN radio in Chicago. After the interview, I had to buy the book. It sounded really interesting. After I read the book, I was glad I did. I usually can't remember titles if I don't write them down, but this titl...
I heard an interview with this Writer, Bryan Gruley, on WGN radio in Chicago. After the interview, I had to buy the book. It sounded really interesting. After I read the book, I was glad I did. I usually can't remember titles if I don't write them down, but this title was very memorable: "Starvation Lake". It is a great mystery set in resort town in Michigan. What is it about? Hockey and Murder. If you're not a hockey fan you might not understand the difference, but this is a book filled with great characters who live in a small town on a lake in Michigan. The main character is a disgraced reporter who almost made it big by breaking a big story and winning a Pulitzer . . . but instead he returns home to Starvation Lake to run the local newspaper. It is a typical small town newspaper and his staff consists three people. The town is dying because he made a mistake as a teenager, and the stuggle to save the town is filled with dirty small town deals behind closed doors between men who never let their highschool problems die.

So where does hockey come into this story? As a teenager, the reporter was the goalie for the town's high school hockey team. Starvation Lake was put on the map by a legendary coach and a small band of players who captured the attention of the entire state of Michigan by making it into the state championship hockey game only to lose it in overtime on a bad play by the reporter/goalie. The entire town never forgave him, and after the loss the town went into a state of decline. No one is surprised that he lost his big city reporter job and had to come home with his tail between his legs. All the men in the town play in a hockey league, and their off ice struggles to save the town frequently boil over into violence in the hockey rink.

The author makes you care about these unlikely likeable characters. This book is funny and insightful, and the mystery is first class. You don't have to like hoceky to like this book. It paints a very vivid picture of working class people from Michigan who love the outdoors and the natural beauty of their state. Their values are very blue collar and honest. Their stuggles to make ends meet are real especially in this economy. Their crimes also fit the times, and the mystery is very complex. The author reveals the answers to clues in unexpected ways. He stayed a step ahead of me right to the very end.

This book might not appeal to everyone because it is blue collar and hockey is not for everyone. But try reading a few pages of it and see if it catches your interest. The characters are very likeable and the mystery is a good one. I passed it on to my wife, and she is still reading. When I asked here what she thought, she said the mystery has her hooked. I truly hope this author writes another novel soon because this was a fun read and an amazing first novel. I especially liked all the characters, and I hope I can visit them in Starvation Lake again in another book by Bryan Gruley.

posted by actorsaudio on October 7, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Michigan hockey special

If you love Michigan and/or hockey you will like this book. I learned a lot about the psychology of hockey. Good escape reading - especially during Stanley Cup time.

posted by martykins on July 5, 2009

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  • Posted January 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    fun investigative thriller

    In Starvation Lake, Michigan everyone is shook up when pieces of a snowmobile wash ashore at Lake Walleye. Sheriff Dingus Aho puts a close hold on the investigation, but rumors spread that the snowmobile is the one driven by legendary peewee ice hockey coach Jack Blackburn who died ten years while riding one at Starvation Lake. <BR/><BR/>Thirty-four years old Gus Carpenter, the editor of the local paper Pilot, and his ace reporter Joanne McCarthy makes inquires into the current case, which leads back to what happened to the coach in 1998. Their investigation leads to a decade earlier when Gus as a goalie let in the winning shot in the State Championship and back to the 1970sd when Coach worked with kids in Canada. However, Gus has legal issues involving an unidentified source back when he worked in Detroit that has him somewhat distracted as he knows the family oriented Pilot may be his last stop on the way back down the same ladder he had climbed up.<BR/><BR/>Although there are too many references to the lost hockey game that allegedly destroyed the town especially by an odious participant turned builder who belongs in the penalty box, fans of sports mysteries will enjoy this fun investigative thriller. The story line is driven by the townsfolk as everyone seems to have secrets even the hero¿s widow mom. Gus is a terrific lead character who holds his anger in check as no one will let him forget the goal that changed Lake Salvation. Joanne reminds him of himself when he was on the way up until he learned at the Detroit Times how in bed the media and the corporations are. Bryan Gruley provides a winning goal that places the small-town hockey atmosphere of Mystery, Alaska inside a Michigan mystery.<BR/><BR/>Harriet Klausner

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 31, 2012

    Highly recommended

    I recently retired and am searching for authors of mystery series. I read Starvation Lake as #1 in an unfamiliar series, and I am looking forward to working my way through the rest of the books by Bryan Gruley. This was an excellent story of a man, a community, and a crime. I enjoyed the development of each aspect, and by the end I felt like I really belonged. Gruley's writing is spare and direct. He doesn't frustrate with a lot of red herrings and blind leads, but he does require you pay attention--you will be surprised by the ending!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 18, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Buried Secrets

    The book opens in February, 1998

    "You can never look into their eyes. Not once. Not for a second. Not if you're a goaltender, like me. Because the guy shooting the puck wants you to look there. Then he'll glance one way and shoot the other, or he'll draw your eyes up just as he snaps the puck between your legs. Or he'll lock on you just long enough to remind you that he knows exactly what he's about to do and you don't, THAT YOU'RE JUST WISHING AND HOPING THAT YOU'LL GUESS RIGHT. THAT YOU'RE NOT AT ALL IN CONTROL."

    It is those last couple of phrases that could sum up Gus Carpenter's life. He's playing the same position he played when he was a kid growing up in Starvation Lake but he thought Starvation Lake was behind him when he was working for the DETROIT TIMES, when he was sure he had a Pulitzer prize winning story, before it all fell apart. Now he is back in Starvation Lake, editor and writer for the PILOT, Starvation Lake's weekly newspaper. He was wishing and hoping that he'd guessed right about the article he was writing, an article even too big for Detroit. But he found out he wasn't in control and he had to leave Detroit and return to the place on which he had turned his back, he was sure, forever.

    At 34, Gus is playing hockey with the same group of men he had played with growing up, the same group of kids who had had their skills honed by Jack Blackburn, who had turned up out of nowhere in 1970 and had made them so good that they had almost won the state championship. All these years later, Starvation Lake hasn't forgotten that Gus Carpenter lost that game when he let the puck sail by. He learned that night that all the wishing and hoping in the world couldn't guarantee that he would guess right. He learned that despite the best coaching from Jack Blackburn, he wasn't in control. The town never let him forget and they were never going to forgive.

    Jack Blackburn had built the reputation of Starvation Lake as the ideal year-round sports destination on Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the skates of this perfect hockey team he had created from a bunch of young boys who believed every word the coach said about their greatness and their futures in hockey. He had become a major investor and the chief cheerleader for Starvation Lake. Then the team lost the championship and Jack Blackburn died when a snowmobile he was riding fell through a hole in the ice on the lake. His body was never found and the dreams of Starvation Lake as sports mecca died, too.

    Ten years later, Jack Blackburn's snowmobile resurfaces, not at Starvation Lake where witnesses claimed to have seen the accident, but at Walleye Lake, miles away. What was truth is no longer truth and as Gus investigates he learns that there are many secrets in Starvation Lake that tell him he doesn't really know the town at all.

    STARVATION LAKE is a very good book. Living near Boston when Bobby Orr was king of the ice, I know how obsessed even big cities can be about hockey. It is the game played by 10 year-olds at 4:00 am, the only time available for practice. One of my nephews is now the coach of a hockey team in Sweden; he is a natural athlete. He was blessed in that his father never thought he was going to be the re-incarnation of Orr. Hockey seems to impose itself on the people involved in it perhaps because it is the most physical game. T

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Is this really a first novel?

    Yes, it is but the author is a long-time journalist and you know how that adds to a first novel. I loved it and am looking forward to his second, due October 2010. Don't read if you are squeamish about pedophilia.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Good But Could Have Been Great

    This book has a very "Mystic River" feel to it. Even the titles are similar as they both reference bodies of water. Gus Carpenter is a reporter for the local newspaper (The Pilot). One day he spies the police recovering what looks like the snowmobile that belonged to his hockey coach (Blackburn) who supposedly drowned in Starvation Lake several years earlier. As Gus tries to investigate the details of what actually happened to Blackburn, everybody seems to not want to talk to him from the police to his own mother. What makes it worse is that everybody has an attitude like they are hiding something "dirty" but forget about it and move on.
    Meanwhile Gus is dealing with a few problems of his own such as it seems he was mysteriously run out of Detroit from a reporting job that he had. As Gus lets the details come to the surface, the reader learns that Gus must give up a source from a story he covered or he will face going to jail and also lose a cash settlement for a family he tried to help.

    This book had all the elements to be great but what hurt it for me is that people make it too obvious throughout that they are hiding something. As the book unfolds the "dirty" secret surrounding Blackburn becomes apparent to the reader, while it takes Gus till close to the end of the book to figure it out. Also the reader can guess what actually befell Blackburn so it is no secret when it is actually revealed. I give this book about three and a half stars but round it grudgingly up to four.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 9, 2009

    What was that storyline again?

    A complex and deep story with many different characters dealing with smalltown angst. Brush up on your northern hockey knowledge as Gruley uses the sport throughout the story.

    If you're looking for love, love lost, sports, jealousy, action, murder, and drama, with a twisted little peek at the darker side in all of us, this is a great little trip.

    Well written yet easy to read. Keeps you entertained while you learn more and more about the people in the story trying to figure out exactly what everyone's up to. Good fun and should make for a nice weekend read on a lake trip!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 1, 2009

    A well written believable mystery with a great central character

    I should start by saying that I am not a sports fan and of all the sports I am not a fan of, hockey is at the top of the list. Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley has at its heart a love of amateur hockey as played by kids and men who still want to be kids in a Northern Michigan town. In spite of this, I really liked the book. The principal character is believable and likable, the plot is all too realistic and he has even set himself up for a nice sequel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2014

    Okay

    I had to read at least half of the book before it ventured into the mystery. After 150 pages it finally became interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 5, 2014

    Good read

    This was a good book, almost too detailes in the beginning. The only real complaint is that a big 'problem' of Gus's goes away in the end with barely any explanation.

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  • Posted February 4, 2014

    For the sports minded reader

    More of a guy's book...especially hockey fans. I did enjoy the story and it was a good believable mystery. Some situations were not easy to read.

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  • Posted February 1, 2014

    This was GREAT reading for me as we snowmobile around and to Sta

    This was GREAT reading for me as we snowmobile around and to Starvation Lake. We have been on all the roads and in all the bar/restaurants mentioned. Makes you feel like you ARE part of the storyline. Great reading!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2014

    An entertaining read that will hold your attention.

    Very enjoyable & believable interaction among the characters. Lots of twists & turns that will keep you guessing. It's not difficult to get lost in the twists & turns of the plot and the interactions among the characters which is what a good mystery novel should do, I guess. Don't put the book down for too long or you'll even be more lost. Surprise "whodunit." Super vacation or long weekend book. Small towns have secrets too, and Starvation Lake has a disgusting one.
    I've already read Gruley's second novel..."The Hanging Tree" which is also really good.

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  • Posted January 17, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Great read

    Once you start you get carried right into the story, very good book greatstory.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2014

    Well written shoter mystry

    The setting was well developed

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Horsekit

    Pads in

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2014

    Nebulakit

    I want to be an apprentice NOW! She thought to herself.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2014

    Mosslily

    She sighed, resting her chin down onto her forepaws. Mosslily's tail twitched softly.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 29, 2013

    More danger off the ice

    A good read. Had you guessing up until the end. Surprizes at every turn.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2013

    Good read.

    Started off slow but kept my interest. I would say a sports lover, especially hockey would like this book. And I would look for other books by this author.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

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