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The Skeleton Box (Starvation Lake Mystery #3)

3.91  ·  Rating Details  ·  709 Ratings  ·  144 Reviews
Anthony and Barry Award-winning author Bryan Gruley returns with the third novel in his critically acclaimed Starvation Lake mystery series.A series of mysterious break-ins is plaguing the small town of Starvation Lake. Someone is slipping into the homes of elderly people when they're out playing Bingo. Oddly, the intruders take nothing, despite evidence that they rifle th ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Touchstone
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James Thane
Jul 16, 2013 James Thane rated it really liked it
This is the third novel in Brian Gruley's Starvation Lake trilogy, following Starvation Lake and The Hanging Tree. The main protagonist is Gus Carpenter who was once a hot-shot reporter in Detroit, but who has now returned home to tiny Starvation Lake in northern Michigan to edit the town's twice-weekly newspaper.

Gus, like the paper, has seen better days. As a youth he was a major hockey star--a goalie who led the local team to the state championship game only to lose the game when he allowed th
Aug 17, 2012 Lou rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery-thriller, arc
In a quiet town called starvation lake there are no murderers. Well that is what they thought. A series of burglaries during bingo nights started occurring in Starvation lake. They were attended mostly by the elder folk of the community, one turns ugly with a murder.

Past murders become revisited with question marks on the guilty.
Secrets that others want buried come to the surface and up in the communities faces.
One old soul believes the truth will not set you free.
Suspects some laughable and ha
Paul Pessolano
Aug 06, 2012 Paul Pessolano rated it liked it
“The Skeleton Box” by Bryan Gruley, published by Touchstone Books.

Category – Mystery/Thriller

“The Skeleton Box” is the third box in the Starvation Lake series. If you are a reader who likes a good mystery with a little hockey thrown in, this will be a very satisfying read.

Starvation Lake is a small rural town in Michigan that has seen better days. The most exciting event in town is the local hockey team, the River Rats, except maybe for murder.

Houses in town are being broken into on Bingo Night
Jun 17, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery, 2012
Gus Carpenter is the Jessica Fletcher of Starvation Lake. He moves back home after a failed journalism career in Detroit, and this sleepy northern Michigan town is suddenly a hotbed of crime and murder.

A big part of what I enjoyed about this book is that it reminds me of home. Northern Michigan isn't quite the same as northern Minnesota, but small-town life in the upper Midwest is fairly consistent no matter what state you're in, and I loved the little details and characters that made me homesic
Jan 07, 2016 Sandi rated it really liked it
Another excellent book in the Starvation Lake series. I thought the author captured the small economically depressed town feel in the three books really well and the characters always seemed so realistic. The plot in this entry was my favorite secrets of the past type and kept me totally engrossed. I do hope he will publish another work soon.
Larry Page
Jun 13, 2012 Larry Page rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ipad, mystery
Third and ostensibly final book in the "Starvation Lake series". In this one Gus investigates and solves the murder of his long time girlfriend's mother and solves a perplexing cold case murder as well. The story is based on the murder and cover-up of a nun that occurred in a church in the early 1900s at the then town of Isadore, Michigan, about twenty miles Northeast of Traverse City in Leelanau County. I myself live about four miles from there. The church is still active but the town has long ...more
Luanne Ollivier
Jul 17, 2012 Luanne Ollivier rated it really liked it
Bryan Gruley is another new to me author. The Skeleton Box is the third book in Gruley's Starvation Lake series.

Starvation Lake is a quiet, small town in Michigan where nothing dangerous really ever happens, but a recent series of break-ins has the town worried. The break-ins are occurring on bingo nights - when most of the town's elderly residents are out. Nothing is ever taken, but their belonging are being rifled through. The pressure is on for the sheriff to solve these cases - it's a re-ele
Larry Hoffer
Jul 13, 2012 Larry Hoffer rated it really liked it
In his third novel featuring local newspaper editor Gus Carpenter, Bryan Gruley returns to Starvation Lake, Michigan. A number of homes have been burglarized while their residents were out playing bingo, but strangely, nothing was taken from any of the houses. And then one night, a break-in at the home of Gus' mother, Bea, results in the murder of her closest friend, Phyllis, who also happens to be the mother of Gus' ex-girlfriend, deputy sheriff Darlene. Bea, whose dementia has been getting wor ...more
May 09, 2012 Kevintipple rated it it was amazing
The Skeleton Box: A Starvation Lake Mystery is the third book in the series and opens in March 2000 with somebody breaking into houses in Starvation Lake on bingo nights. Despite the break-ins, the victims report that nothing has been taken. The motive as well as the identity or identities of those involved remain a mystery. Pine County Sheriff Dingus has no suspects and the town is on edge.

Then, apparently in the course of a break-in, a murder happens and for Gus his life will change forever. T
Jan 22, 2016 Sara rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-books
Enjoyed this book, at least partially for the familiarity of the Northern Michigan surroundings! There is even a mention of the Hideaway Bar! The underlying story of the mysterious disappearance of a nun is inspired by the true story of Sister Mary Janice in 1907 in Isadore, Michigan-see Mardi Link's excellent book Isadore's Secret. This book is a complex tale with twists and turns that include hockey, a cult of born again Christians and long ago female friends.
Jul 01, 2012 Jon rated it really liked it
The third and latest in a very good series set in tiny Starvation Lake, a town in northern Michigan. The editor of the local newspaper tells this story of corruption, local history, and sudden death. The characters are solid and real, the plotting careful, and the dialogue believable. I may be wrong, but I think it's accurate to say that as the editor/reporter tries to track down the truth about a death in his elderly mother's house, every single character lies to him at some point, including th ...more
Jul 02, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
A solid read, made immeasurably more pleasurable due to the fact it's set in a fictional town nearby in northern Michigan, and cribs from a famous murder case, the death of a nun, that happened a couple of miles from my home.

Bryan Gruley's writing occasionally reminds me of James Lee Burke's: the crusty characters, the place-based framework for the story, his own dispassionate re-telling of some fairly horrific facts. The "dying newspaper" subplot rang totally true, as did the greasy hide-the-e
Jul 30, 2012 Christine rated it really liked it
What a delightful book! I am already attached to the characters from Bryan's first two this is a sweet homecoming. That said, I find Bryan's writing engaging as he manages to sidestep the formulaic approach that traps some authors with sequels. The story line pulled me in, took me along on twists and turns and happily landed me at the end wanting more.

I've already written friends recommending this book and it has been added to my gift giving list!

Again, the standards of hockey, myste
Renee Rasak keogh
Dec 05, 2012 Renee Rasak keogh rated it really liked it

Rather than recap the book, I am just going to tell my feelings about all three of the Starvation Lake mysteries. I found the characters realistic and very relatable. I loved all three mysteries and hope there is another book in the near future. I have never seen a hockey game in my life but felt swept up in the action every time one was described in the novel. Well done....keep writing Bryan Gruley!
Jan 17, 2015 April rated it it was ok
This mystery is set in the dead end town of Starvation Lake, Michigan, where reporter Gus Carpenter is editing a teeny local newspaper and licking his wounds after some unspecified debacle as a big time reporter earlier in his career. When his former girlfriend Darlene's mother is found killed in Gus' own mother's home, he and Darlene decided to investigate the mystery, which appears to be someone looking for an old box. Gus' mother knows, but she doesn't want to know, and she also has Alzheimer ...more
Jun 27, 2012 Gatorman rated it really liked it
Another highly enjoyable mystery in the Starvation Lake series from Gruley. The characters are well-developed and the writing, especially the dialogue, is always spot-on. The mystery takes a bit of time to develop and play itself out but the denouement is satisfying and, for fans of the series, a bit sad. Highly recommended.
Feb 05, 2016 Beth rated it really liked it
In this third book in the series (and I hope not last but the author has referred to these three works as an "accidental trilogy"), Gus and a new reporter at the Pilot, Luke Whistler, investigate a series of Monday Bingo Night break-ins at the homes of local senior citizens. Nothing seems to be taken, but then a murder occurs during one of the incidents, and the best friend of Gus's mother is the victim. A mysterious phone message from the victim to her daughter and Gus's ex, Darleen provide the ...more
Tess Mertens-Johnson
Aug 03, 2015 Tess Mertens-Johnson rated it it was amazing
Set in 2000, this is the third book by Bryan Gruley about the small town of Starvation Lake.
There are a series of home break-ins with the older citizens. It happened when the Catholic Church has Bingo Night. Nothing is stolen, but the intruder is definitely looking for something by going through the papers of the homeowners.
Then there is a murder. Gus Carpenter, the editor of the local paper’s mother Bea had her friend Phyllis visit, and before Phyllis could leave, she is murdered in the bathroo
Jul 17, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing
Each of these three books is fantastic. I can't recommend them enough, although I'd recommend waiting to start each one until you've got little else to do with your time, because they're impossible to put down. Can't wait for Gruley's next one.
Jena R
Mar 31, 2014 Jena R added it
In the book The Skeleton Box By Bryan Gruley, There are a series of crimes on bingo night and they started calling it Bingo Night Break-ins. Gus started writing about them in the Pilot newspaper he worked at. On the way to his moms house when he sees police lights and people standing outside of her house. So Gus rushes into his moms house to see his mom sitting at the kitchen table with the sheriff asking her questions. Than he sees an ambulance and heres Darlene his girlfriend crying from the b ...more
Jun 16, 2012 Peg rated it really liked it
Good yarn to complete the trilogy and I like the way the Gus Carpenter character has evolved and matured, but I find myself wishing for a final/final wrap-up...a novel length epilogue if you would.
Aug 11, 2014 Kate rated it it was ok
Shelves: mystery, fiction
Probably my least favorite of the Starvation Lake series. It's actually got the most engaging plot since the first book, but it's such a thin book, written so brusquely it's a bit like being wheeled through the story at warp speed. The reader doesn't have time to really sink their teeth into it or to get immersed in the setting and characters again.

This is supposedly the final book Gruley's going to be writing about Starvation Lake, and by the time I finished it I wondered if maybe he was so ti
May 21, 2015 Spuddie rated it really liked it
Although I had figured out most of the mystery and backstory well ahead of time, there were a few surprises in there. I love this series and the main character, but since is the most recent one and it was written in 2012, I'm kind of thinking it's the last one. Set in fictional small town Starvation Lake, Michigan, the main character is a reporter for the local newspaper, returned to his hometown after a scandal lost him his job in Detroit. For a small town, there sure are a lot of murders in St ...more
Feb 23, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
This was more of a 4.5 even though I figured out the mystery & surprises at the end. Usually, I hate when that happens but I didn't mind it so much this time. That's probably because this book was much less about the mystery and more about some really wonderfully written characters.

I didn't find out until after I finished that this was the last book (though I'm assuming never say never) in what is a trilogy. And though I'd happily read another installment, any more would probably ruin the m
Katharine Ott
Jun 02, 2013 Katharine Ott rated it liked it
Shelves: twbc-read
"4th Bingo Break-In Strikes Fear Into Town Of Starvation Lake." The character who is doing these break-ins turns out to be a leading player in the mystery which begins as a murder and develops into a confusing bundle of family history, the Catholic Church, and deceits & lies. The setting in a northern Michigan hockey town would be instantly recognizable to anyone raised in such an environment and the common link of hockey fever unites the fans.

The premise was interesting, with a forgetful mo
Oct 10, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it
As I have said before, if you combine hockey and murder, then the book is guaranteed to be an ideal fit for me. There is just something about small town hockey that draws me in. Now granted, the murder part and the history that got us there is not kid stuff. So in your mind, you will have to separate the two. If you are easily offended by the wrong doings of certain members of the Catholic Church, you might want to avoid this book altogether. Just a bit of forewarning.

Weekly bingo night has tak
Kari Anderson
Jun 17, 2012 Kari Anderson rated it really liked it
Someone is breaking into homes in Starvation Lake. At first nothing was taken, and no one was hurt. The bandit was dubbed the Bingo Night Burglar. Everyone is a little on edge, not sure who is a target and why, but everyone gets scared when the burglary becomes a murder at one home.

And it’s the home of Gus Carpenter’s mother. Gus is the chief of the local paper. His mother wasn’t the victim in the burglary, but her best friend and a woman who helped raise Gus was. Plus, she was the mother of Gus
Ray Palen
Jun 27, 2012 Ray Palen rated it it was ok
Bryan Gruley’s Starvation Lake mystery series continues with the release of THE SKELETON BOX. Even though the title may conjure up supernatural or grisly imagery, the resulting novel is far tamer than the title suggests.

With characters named Sherriff Dingus, Whistler and Gus, THE SKELETON BOX plays more like Lake Wobegon than hard-boiled crime noir. I find the comparisons to Steve Hamilton’s brilliant Alex McKnight series a tad premature and unwarranted. This novel is far more soft-boiled.

It see
Jun 18, 2012 Ann rated it really liked it
Loved it, bk 3 is just as good as the first two if not better. Good to be back in the small town of Starvation with Gus and crew. The mystery takes center stage this time around with less hockey, but the River Rats still have a place in this story. Same players are back with a few new names. Always hoping Soupy will find his way and straighten up, but not in this story. Focus here is on Darlene’s Mom, Phyllis/Mrs. B. Starts out a bit slow but quickly ramps up. Deep story intertwined with past ev ...more
Apr 17, 2013 Tabi34 rated it really liked it
The final book in the Starvation Lake trilogy. It's rather sad to know the people of Starvation Lake will not be having more adventures, but Gruley wrote three terrific books.

The series is set in a fictional town in the northern part of lower Michigan - nearby places like Traverse City are real enough, but the actual title town isn't. Gruley took a real life story the death of a nun in 1909 and turned it into a mystery that began in the 30s with a pregnancy and moves into the 50s with the murde
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Bryan Gruley is the critically acclaimed author of Starvation Lake: A Mystery, The Hanging Tree, and the fortchoming sequel, The Skeleton Box.

The Hanging Tree is nominated for Anthony and Barry Awards to be awarded in September at the Bouchercon mystery/thriller convention. Writer/director John Gray has optioned the book for a feature film.

Starvation Lake, now in its eleventh printing, was nominat
More about Bryan Gruley...

Other Books in the Series

Starvation Lake Mystery (3 books)
  • Starvation Lake
  • The Hanging Tree

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