The Skeleton Box
A Starvation Lake Mystery
Does Gus Carpenter really want to know what’s inside the skeleton box? In Anthony– and Barry Award–winning author Bryan Gruley’s gripping new novel, Gus must decide if the truth is better off dead and buried.
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. But when the story leads him to a lockbox his mother has kept secret for years, Gus doesn’t realize that its contents could forever change his perception of Starvation Lake, his own family, and the value of the truth.
Set in Starvation Lake, Mich., Edgar-finalist Gruley's winning third novel featuring local newspaper editor Gus Carpenter (after 2010's The Hanging Tree) finds him playing goalie for a men's hockey league in his spare time and looking after his mother, who's gradually slipping into dementia. A series of burglaries has the placid community on edge, and the townspeople demand action after an elderly friend of Carpenter's mother is murdered. Assisted by his on-again, off-again police officer girlfriend, Carpenter determines to find the truth, which may reach back to the 50-year-old disappearance of a beautiful young nun. As Carpenter and veteran investigative reporter Luke Whistler venture into unexpected places, it becomes clear that someone is willing to go to any length to keep the past buried. While the small town as a variant of the locked-room mystery has been done before, Gruley injects freshness into a familiar story. 20-city author tour.
Held my interest.
Many family twists and turns. Little guessed who the murderer was. Not very flattering of the Catholic church.