Starvation Lake – Review

n312650.jpgStarvation Lake

Author: Bryan Gruley

Pages: 370 pages

Publisher: Touchstone

Release Date: March 3rd, 2009

Series: Starvation Lake Trilogy

Main Character(s): Gus Carpenter, former befallen hockey star for the River Rats and recovering journalist for the Pine County newspaper

Setting: the small town of Starvation Lake, Michigan, 1998

Began: December 29th, 2016

Finished: March 19th, 2017

Goodreads Summary


In the dead of a Michigan winter, pieces of a snowmobile wash up near the crumbling, small town of Starvation Lake — the same snowmobile that went down with Starvation’s legendary hockey coach years earlier. But everybody knows Coach Blackburn’s accident happened five miles away on a different lake. As rumors buzz about mysterious underground tunnels, the evidence from the snowmobile says one thing: murder.

Gus Carpenter, editor of the local newspaper, has recently returned to Starvation after a failed attempt to make it big at the Detroit Times. In his youth, Gus was the goalie who let a state championship get away, crushing Coach’s dreams and earning the town’s enmity. Now he’s investigating the murder of his former coach. But even more unsettling to Gus are the holes in the town’s past and the gnawing suspicion that those holes may conceal some dark and disturbing secrets that some of the people closest to him may have killed to keep.


What I Enjoyed

  1. Gus, Gus, and Gus. The main protagonist, Gus Carpenter, has got to be one of my favorite characters that I’ve ever encountered while delving into a book. He has had many harsh realities dropped upon him during his life – losing the biggest hockey game of his career, his job being terminated, and the death of a close mentor and father – but tries and tries again to persevere through everyday life. The equivalent of a male Nancy Drew, he doesn’t stop sleuthing until the full truth is revealed, something I admire greatly of the character that Bryan Gruley has created.
  2. Joanie. A supporting character within the first novel and a minor character within the third, she never fails to amuse me throughout this story. Almost like Brenda Carlton (Nancy Drew fans will understand my reference) but much less evil and much more funny.
  3. The atmospheric feel of the story. Within the first few chapters, I really felt like I had been transported into the small town of Starvation Lake. It was almost as if I was really there. You could picture the rows upon rows of pine trees that made up the forests, the houses sitting on perches overlooking the lake, the smell of the egg pies at Audrey’s Diner, the locals chatting and gossiping about this and that. It’s almost like a scene from a movie.
  4. The general idea of the plot. I think it was very creative, and a nice twist to include something sports related within the plot that stays for the entire trilogy. It was interesting to read a mystery unlike something I have ever read before. I actually enjoyed the little tidbits Bryan Gruley included about the hockey players and hockey terms. It felt like I was learning something, too! Bonus!!
  5. Darlene. Though she was a minor character within this particular novel of the trilogy, I loved the vibe she was giving off, no lie.
  6. There were many things that came unexpected to me in this novel! That’s a huge plus, as I am very good at guessing what comes next.

What I Didn’t Like

  1. Everybody involved with the police department minus Darlene. WHY DO THE POLICE ALWAYS GET IN THE WAY OF PEOPLE WHO ARE TRYING TO HELP?! Like, bye! If you can’t do your job then don’t get a job there in the first place, please and thank you!
  2. The clerk lady. Another person trying to get in the way of the mystery being solved!!
  3. As I said above, I did enjoy the references to hockey and hockey terms, BUT, I did NOT like it when Bryan Gruley did not allow Gus Carpenter to explain what he was talking about. Sometimes I had no clue what he was talking about and had to go back and re-read certain paragraphs a few times to make sure I knew what was going on within a hockey game.
  4. There were certain points within the novel that I felt fell dead, but they were very rare. That’s what made it even more sad when they happened because there were too many great parts for that to happen! But those certain parts are why it took me so long to get through the entirety of the novel.


All in all, this was a fantastic novel for a writers initial debut. There were many parts that I thoroughly enjoyed, though there were parts that I felt fell dead for the maximum of an entire chapter. Many of the characters will stick with me for a long time, while some of them, even major, will be forgotten by tomorrow. My favorite thing about this novel is the main protagonist, Gus.



Literary Awards:
  • Barry Award for Best Paperback Original (2010)
  • Anthony Award for Best Paperback Novel (2010)
  • Strand Critics Award for Best First Novel (2009)
1416563628 (ISBN13: 9781416563624)

Buy it at:

Barnes and Noble


Stay sleuthy,





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