Monday 18 January 2021

Starvation Lake

Finished January 16
Starvation Lake by Bryan Cruley

This debut novel from a WSJ journalist is engrossing. The main character, Gus Carpenter is also a journalist. He'd been working in Detroit on a story exposing a car manufacturer and hoping to be nominated for a Pulitzer when he got pushed to do something he didn't want to do. He lost his job and retreated to his hometown, where he went to work for the town paper, hired by the same guy he started his career in journalism with. He's now in charge there, but on probation, so he's still careful about the stories he includes. It's a small staff, him and Joanie, another reporter, and a receptionist who puts her hand in when needed. The other reporter is young and ambitious, and Tillie, the receptionist is a former starlet who also returned to her hometown. 
Gus plays hockey with most of the same guys he played with as a kid, and lives in a small apartment above the newspaper offices. Gus's dad died of cancer when he was a kid, and his mom still lives in town and he sees her regularly. She is very active in the community. Shortly after high school, when Gus had left town, his hockey coach, Blackburn disappeared into a nearby lake while snowmobiling with a buddy. His body and machine weren't found, but the lake wasn't dredged at the time, the lake bottom is very soft, and there have long been rumours about tunnels between lakes. 
So when an old snowmobile surfaces in Starvation Lake, questions begin to arise about what happened ten years ago, and Joanie starts digging into the past. But there seem to be quite a few people who don't want the past brought to light, including Gus's own mom, and he begins to reflect on his own memories and what they mean. 
The situation in Detroit is also coming to a head, with potentially bad outcomes for Gus if he doesn't give in to the pressure from his old paper. 
I liked Gus, and Joanie, and felt compassion for some of the other characters, including Gus's old girlfriend who is now on the police force in Starvation Lake. I also liked to various layers of the plot and how they came together in intriguing ways. 
There are a couple of other books in this series that I may have to hunt out.

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