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Bleak Harbor by Bryan Gruley
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Bleak Harbor

by Bryan Gruley

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614302,733 (3.5)8
"Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears. When Danny's mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there's also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they've kept hidden--even from one another--have led to Danny's abduction? As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he's taken from them forever"--Dust jacket.… (more)

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A couple's autistic 16 year old son goes missing and creates a complex chain of events, lies and double-crosses which is at times is hard to follow, especially if there is any gap between reading sections. ( )
  edwardsgt | Feb 14, 2019 |
Danny Peters, an autistic teenager, disappears and his kidnapper demands $5.145 million. His mother Carey and his stepfather Pete both have secrets involving their own less-than-strictly-legal activities, so as they try to raise the ransom, they each fear that they bear some responsibility by bringing criminal people into their lives. Carey approaches her mother Serenity, the very wealthy matriarch of the town, and Pete speaks to a rich businessman who once fired him.

There is a major plot twist which I found implausible. The person responsible for Danny’s disappearance is a mastermind who has planned for possible problems and sees everything that Carey and Pete do. Then in the end, this person’s motives are rather unclear.

Characters are not fully developed. One reason is that the author withholds information so as to misdirect the reader and create suspense. Everyone (e.g. Danny’s biological ex-con father, Pete’s employee at his medical marijuana dispensary, Carey’s boss, the policewoman searching for Danny, the F.B.I. agent who joins the investigation, Serenity’s personal assistant, a barkeep) seems to have a secret and a personal agenda. Some characters, like Serenity, are just caricatures.

Danny is a highly functioning autistic and the portrayal of someone with that diagnosis is interesting. People tend to make assumptions about him, some even calling him “retarded”, but it is obvious from the beginning that he is very intelligent.

The town of Bleak Harbor, Michigan, is holding a Dragonfly Festival when Danny disappears, and the dragonfly, one of Danny’s obsessions, serves as a metaphor. Though they are pretty and seem harmless, there is repeated reference to their “cruelly efficient jaws and serrated teeth” and “terrible jaws, their knives for teeth”.

The book is an easy read, though trying to remember everyone’s agendas does require some focus. The novel is fast-paced with a lot of dialogue so is also a quick read. It initially keeps the reader’s interest, but as the mastermind’s manipulations pile up, I became annoyed because credibility is sacrificed.

Note: Please check out my reader's blog (https://schatjesshelves.blogspot.com/) and follow me on Twitter (@DCYakabuski). ( )
  Schatje | Jan 19, 2019 |
It has been several years since his excellent series billed as The Starvation Lake Trilogy, but finally author Bryan Gruley is back with a new book. Bleak Harbor more than lives up to the hype surrounding it.

Daniel Peters, who only goes by Danny, is about to be sixteen. Son of Carey and Andrew, he isn’t that fond of Bleak Harbor. It is a Thursday as the book opens and Danny is spending his time, as he often does, out on the dock watching the dragonflies.

Dragonflies are a major part of his life as an autistic young teen. They are also the reason for the upcoming annual “Southwestern Michigan Dragonfly Festival” that starts tomorrow which also happens to be his birthday. This will be 28th such festival in a city known more for the legacy of the Bleak family. Daniel Peters is a part of the Bleak family and that legacy even if his incredibly wealthy grandmother, Serenity, refuses to acknowledge his presence or existence. She has the town and her family firmly under her control and their failure to cooperate has economic consequences for anyone and everyone.

That includes Danny’s parents as his mother is Carey Bleak Peters, daughter of Serenity. She has many regrets and they include moving to Bleak Harbor. She did it to help her husband start his already failing medical marijuana business as well as get help for Danny from her family. As that has all failed, she has made a last ditch gamble. Now that she has proof of several different things, she can take down her boss and his company. She has told him she won’t pull that trigger---if her wealthy and powerful boss pays her ten million dollars for her silence. Not only can he afford it, she really wants to take Danny away with her so that they can start a new life. Daddy, who is working his own agenda, won’t be part of that new life.

Before she can make good on their escape, Danny goes missing and has obviously been kidnapped.

As the hours pass, things escalate out of control in this thriller. Author Bryan Gruley follows the standard thriller formula these days of keeping the chapters short and the point of view constantly changing as he ratchets up the tension. He also does a superb job of misdirection that surprised this reader. Bleak Harbor is engrossing and intense read from start to finish and very much worth your time. Sadly, the second book in the series, Purgatory Bay, is not currently scheduled to come out until January 2020.)

Bleak Harbor: A Novel
Bryan Gruley
http://bryangruley.com/
Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing)
https://amazonpoublishing.amazon.com
December 1, 2018
ISBN#: 978-1503904682
Hardback (also available in digital and audio book formats)
$24.95
378 Pages

ARC supplied by Sarah Burningham of Little Bird Publicity.

Kevin R. Tipple ©2018 ( )
  kevinrtipple | Dec 16, 2018 |
This was a good one! I couldn't wait to get back to the book to see who did it. ( )
  Berly | Nov 26, 2018 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears.

When Danny’s mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there’s also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they’ve kept hidden—even from one another—have led to Danny’s abduction?

As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he’s taken from them forever.
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