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.
The second book in Bryan Gruley’s irresistible Starvation Lake series, The Hanging Tree is a compelling story about family and friendship, sex and violence, and the failure of love to make everything right.
When the body of Gracie McBride is discovered hanging in a tree on the outskirts of Starvation Lake, Mich., journalist Gus Carpenter, Gracie's second cousin, isn't convinced it's suicide in Edgar-finalist Gruley's absorbing follow-up to Starvation Lake (2009). Even though he and Gracie had their differences Gracie was always a wild child and left Starvation Lake 18 years earlier Gus feels obliged to investigate her death, especially after he uncovers Gracie's ties to the plan for an expensive new hockey rink. Millionaire lawyer Laird Haskell has recently moved to town with his family, including teenage son Taylor, who looks like Starvation's most promising goalie since young Gus's days on the ice, and promises to fund a state-of-the-art facility. When Gus starts poking into Haskell's business dealings, he unearths unsavory links with Gracie's troubled life during her time away from Starvation. Gruley vividly evokes the frigid Michigan winters and the even chillier atmosphere of an insular community determined to keep its secrets.