August 24, 2010

The Hanging Tree by Bryan Gruley

Earlier this summer we talked about Michael McKinley's highly acclaimed first novel The Penalty Killing. The novel has a definite hockey theme, as the protagonist is a former hockey player framed for murder who goes about solving his own mystery.

The book transcends hockey into the world of fiction and pop culture, which is woefully (and strangely) overdue.

Today we are going to look at another book just along those lines. It is called The Hanging Tree, written by author Bryan Gruley and released by Touchstone in August, 2010.

Buy The Book - - Chapters -

This mystery novel is set in the small, fictional town of Starvation Lake, MI, where the winters are cold and hockey is a way of life. Gruley brilliantly captures the hockey culture and interweaves it throughout the story.

This novel is one of the best novels I've ever read. I truly believe this should be made into a motion picture. 

What is the book about? Here's the official line from the publisher:

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.

But in such a small town it’s impossible to be an impartial investigator—Gracie was Gus’s second cousin; Darlene’s best friend; and the lover of Gus’s oldest pal, Soupy Campbell. Yet with all the bad blood between Gus and Gracie over the years, Gus is easily distracted by other problems. His employer is trying to push him out, the locals are annoyed that his stories have halted construction on a new hockey rink, and Darlene’s estranged husband has returned to reclaim his wife.

When Gus tries to retrace Gracie’s steps to discover what happened to her in the eighteen years she was away from Starvation Lake, he’s forced to return to Detroit, the scene of his humiliating past. And though he’s determined to find out what drove Gracie back home, Gus is unprepared for the terrible secrets he uncovers.

For more information (and to see one of the coolest book websites I've ever seen), check out Also, you want to check out A Conversation With Bryan Gruley on the publisher's website.
About The Author

The novel is actually the Gruley's second. His first, Starvation Lake, also hockey-themed, earned Gruley an Edgar Award nomination for Best First Novel. It was a critically acclaimed masterpiece that has now been spun off into a series mystery-thrillers.

If Bryan Gruley is a familiar name for some it is because he is the Chicago bureau chief of The Wall Street Journal where he shared in that paper's Pulitzer Prize coverage of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Pretty heavy stuff, but it turns out Gruley is an avid hockey player and fan, and very much wanted to include hockey in his adventure into novelling.

Be sure to check out the author's website, will also want to check out A Conversation With Bryan Gruley on the publisher's website.

Great Reviews

The Hanging Tree has had incredible press since it's release. So much so that there is speculation that these novels could be turned into major Hollywood productions. Check out these raving comments:

“The Hanging Tree is a terrific story, a dark-hearted mystery entwined in a bullet-fast thriller. Gruley is one of the good ones.” —John Sandford

“The Hanging Tree is an engrossing, sure-footed mystery that manages to be both suspenseful and deeply touching.” —Gillian Flynn, Edgar nominee and New York Times Bestselling Author.

“Haunting, observant, and filled with complex characters that will remind you just how much you don't trust your neighbors. The Hanging Tree will pry its way into your imagination. And it won't leave." —Brad Meltzer, New York Times bestselling author

“As with ‘Starvation Lake’ before it, ‘The Hanging Tree’ is an exceptionally well-written novel by an author who has mastered the conventions of his genre. Discriminating readers will be anxiously awaiting the third book in this promising series.” —Associated Press

“Gruley captures the hardscrabble life of a recession-rocked small town and the deep interrelations of the inhabitants while delivering complex, intriguing characters caught up in trouble. His take on contemporary journalism is Evelyn Waugh-worthy. Another winner.” —Booklist

“Absorbing. . . Gruley vividly evokes the frigid Michigan winters and the even chillier atmosphere of an insular community determined to keep its secrets.” —Publishers Weekly

Buy The Book - - Chapters -


  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP