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The Skeleton Box: A Starvation Lake Mystery…
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The Skeleton Box: A Starvation Lake Mystery

by Bryan Gruley

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The Skeleton Box by Brian Gruley
Starvation Lake Series Book #3
3★'s

What's It About?
Mysterious break-ins are plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. While elderly residents enjoy their weekly bingo night at St. Valentine’s Catholic Church, someone is slipping into their homes to rifle through financial and personal files. Oddly, the intruder takes nothing—yet the “Bingo Night Burglaries” leave the entire town uneasy.

Worry turns into panic when a break-in escalates to murder. Suddenly, Gus Carpenter, editor of the Pine County Pilot, is forced to investigate the most difficult story of his life. Not only is the victim his ex-girlfriend Darlene’s mother, but her body was found in the home of Bea Carpenter—Gus’s own mother. Suffering from worsening dementia and under the influence of sleeping pills, Bea remembers little of the break-in.

With the help of Luke Whistler, a former Detroit Free Press reporter who came north looking for slower days and some old-fashioned newspaper work, Gus sets out to uncover the truth behind the murder.

What Did I Think?
One reason for the 3 star rating is that this is not an edge-of-your-seat thriller. I have to admit that it is suspenseful...it's a good detective story filled with local color and interesting characters.... but it is simply too easy going. It will diffidently appeal to those that like something a little more than a cozy mystery but not so much on the gritty side. ( )
  Carol420 | Jul 3, 2017 |
THE SKELETON BOX by Bryan Gruley is a good mystery. In addition to the main story, a few others are going on. Several possibilities exist, and more and more clues throughout the book keep the reader guessing and reguessing. Eventually, all the stories come together.

This book is the third in a series about the inhabitants of Starvation Lake, Michigan, a small town "up north," as we in the Detroit area say. Gruely gets great reviews and has won awards for the first two books in the series. But I read the series out of order, which I think was fine because Gruley does a good job of letting this book stand alone from the others.

The narrator of THE SKELETON BOX, and, presumably, of the first two books in the series as well, is Gus, a newspaper editor in Starvation Lake. In this book, he investigates the murder of his mother's old friend. And Gus succeeds where the police have not.

Could this murder be connected to a 1950s case in this town when a nun went missing? Does Gus's mother know more than she is letting on? And is the reporter he hired really who he says he is? And so on as Gus finds answers to more and more questions.

As are all good mysteries, THE SKELETON BOX is suspenseful. But it is pretty easy going suspense, not an edge-of-your-seat thriller. ( )
  techeditor | Jul 24, 2012 |
Bryan Gruley is another new to me author. The Skeleton Box is the third book in Gruley's Starvation Lake series.

Starvation Lake is a quiet, small town in Michigan where nothing dangerous really ever happens, but a recent series of break-ins has the town worried. The break-ins are occurring on bingo nights - when most of the town's elderly residents are out. Nothing is ever taken, but their belonging are being rifled through. The pressure is on for the sheriff to solve these cases - it's a re-election year. And the stakes are upped when a break-in turns to murder.

Gus Carpenter, editor of the local paper is covering the biggest story of his career. The victim is someone near and dear to him. And as he digs deeper into the story, he finds it taking him places he never expected - and much closer to home than he could have imagined.

Gus is Gruley's recurring protagonist. I really liked Gus - he just came across as real, down to earth and believable. He's dealing with job stress/cutbacks, an elderly mother with the beginnings of dementia and an on again off again relationship - with a local deputy. He's not painted as an infallible, intrepid reporter, but just a regular guy.

The mystery in The Skeleton Box is timely and features a good solid plot. But for me, it was the town of Starvation Lake and its' residents that took centre stage. Characterization is Gruley's strong point. I loved all the colourful citizens. My only problem was that everyone has a nickname as well. I had a wee bit of trouble keeping everyone straight.(Take note - Bryan Gruley's nickname is Grules!) Gruley has painted a vivid, accurate portrait of the town. The River Rats hockey team, their players and the town's support is so spot on I thought Gruley was writing about my small town. ( Go Irish!) The various hockey analogies used were quite effective.

Even though I have missed the first two in the series, I was able to enjoy this book as a stand alone. (But it would be definitely worth looking up the first two) Folksy is a term that popped to mind when I was trying to think of how to describe Gruley's writing. ( )
  Twink | Jul 17, 2012 |
Love the characters in the town of Starvation, Gus Carpenter, the newspaperman, love the small town feeling. This time the case becomes personal for Gus and what starts out as a relatively simple case becomes anything but. Like how the town is so hockey crazy and how the mysteries always incorporate hockey games and players. Another very good entry in this series. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jul 5, 2012 |
Starvation Lake is a small community in upper Michigan. Monday night bingo is a main source of entertainment and gossip for many of the seniors but lately someone has been breaking into homes of seniors on Monday nights. Nothing seems to have been taken but it has made residents nervous.

Gus Carpenter is the editor of the "Pilot" he's playing hockey with a number of friends when a police officer asks him to accompany him to his mother's home. Gus's mother's home has been robbed and her neighbor and best friend was there. Her best friend was killed.

The only clue was the name of a former priest who served in the parish when a young nun disappeared in 1944. When the media and officials learn about this, they wonder if the Catholic Church might be behind the break-ins and recent death.

There is an interesting sup-plot as the town is getting ready for a possible chance at the state championship in youth hockey. However, one of the key players beomes a pawn for a religious group.

This is a well written, smoothly plotted novel with an interesting plot. ( )
  mikedraper | Jun 10, 2012 |
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for kimi, karen, kathleen, mike and dave and in memory of our father
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The Bingo Night Burglar may have struck again.
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Investigating a series of burglaries in the homes of Starvation Lake seniors whose personal effects are explored but not stolen, newspaper editor Gus Carpenter teams up with an agenda-driven senior reporter to solve the case when a break-in results in the death of a beloved citizen.… (more)

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