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The Skeleton Box: A Starvation Lake Mystery (Starvation Lake Mystery #3)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  758 Ratings  ·  152 Reviews
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, someon
ebook, 336 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Touchstone
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James Thane
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
Jun 11, 2012 Lou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 20, 2017 Tyler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm sad to see the Starvation Lake series go but it was good run. This one had a pretty good mystery compared to the last one. A lot of this story rings true. The character writing was solid as always except for Darlene who is terrible but is supposed to be some great love of Gus's life or something. Can't figure that one out. She has an excuse every book for her wretchedness but still annoying character. The worlds of journalism and hockey are again interesting aspects of Gus's life and investi ...more
Jun 08, 2012 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Starvation Lake is a small community in upper Michigan. Someone has been breaking into the homes of some elderly residents while they were at Monday night bingo. Nothing seemed to have been taken but it made people nervous.

Then, Gus Carpenter, editor of the "Pilot" is asked to accompany a police officer to Gus's mother's home. Her home had been broken into and her friend and next door neighbor, who was there taking care of her, was killed.

The only clue is the name of a former priest who had been
Larry Page
Jun 13, 2012 Larry Page rated it it was amazing
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
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.
May 09, 2012 Kevintipple rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Luanne Ollivier
Jul 17, 2012 Luanne Ollivier rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 H
Jul 02, 2012 Larry H rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 01, 2012 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 30, 2012 Renee Rasak keogh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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 19, 2016 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 21, 2012 Gatorman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 17, 2012 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 16, 2012 Peg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 03, 2017 Carol rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Skeleton Box by Brian Gruley
Starvation Lake Series Book #3

What's It About?
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 Car
#3 in the series. I had not read any others in the series, so I was a bit lost as to the characters, but this did not detract from the overall enjoyment. A bit too convoluted with multiple things going on at the same time which is why I did not go for 4 stars. The author pulled it all together at the end.
Jul 23, 2017 Shelley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I especially enjoyed that this book is set pretty much locally for me, plus references the little Detroit suburb I grew up in. That said, several issues w/ locations.... but still enjoyed the book.
Kari Anderson
May 28, 2012 Kari Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 10, 2012 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 26, 2012 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gus Carpenter is enjoying a beer with Soupy his fellow hockey team mate after their win at the bar, when there is a knock on the door. It is the police. Something has happened. Gus is escorted to his mother's house where the cops and an ambulance are. It seems that Mrs. B. a good friend of Gus's mother was found dead in Gus's mother's kitchen. It appears to be a break in. The worse part is that Mrs. B. is Gus's ex, Darlene's mother. Gus has a vested interest in solving Mrs. B.'s death.

The Skelet
Tess Mertens-Johnson
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
Rabid Readers Reviews
I don’t believe the point of Starvation Lake is the actual plot. We’re not rocketing from Point A to Z. We’re enjoying the ride hitting all of the letters in between and savouring them. In typical cozy fashion, the wind up was maybe a bit convenient but by the time we reach the end, we know these people well enough to know that this is what would happen in their world.

One of Gruley’s great strengths is the flavor of the past. Strohs and Ernie Harwell on the radio, what Michigan kid didn’t see th
Apr 16, 2012 Roslyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Skeleton Box
By Bryan Gruley

Bryan Gruley takes the reader to the small town of Starvation Lake with its interesting characters and their mysterious backgrounds and relationships. Tragedy strikes Gus Carpenter too close when his neighbor is killed in what appears to be a series of burglaries where nothing is taken.

Phyllis Bontrager, mother of Gus’s ex-girlfriend, Darlene, is found dead in the home of her best friend, Bea Carpenter, mother of Gus Carpenter. This tragic event brings the two toge
Paul Pessolano
“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
Jena R
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
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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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