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May 30, 2010 / C.T. Henry

REVIEW: Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley

Starvation Lake was nominated for a first novel Edgar Award, but I have no idea why.  At the end of the book, I asked myself: Why was this book written?  What lessons were learned?  After previously reading about the racism in D.C., how our meat is produced, and the experience of illegal immigrants in the US, what is Starvation Lake really about?  An adult reporter learning that his childhood hockey coach was really a pedophile who abused some of his players?  What’s worse is that the author doesn’t bring anything new to the subject.

The book takes the reader to the small Michigan town of Starvation Lake, where the boys’ hockey team is its one and only claim to fame.  When a snowmobile washes up on the banks of the lake, the legend of coach Coach Blackburn, who disappeared through the ice years earlier, resurfaces.  And when a bullet hole is found on the snowmobile, residents begin to think he may have been murdered.

Even though the narrative is quite accessible and I liked the main character’s daily struggle to get the newspaper out in a small town, I kept hoping Gruley wasn’t going to take the path that he did.  In the end, this debut, which garnered such praise by leading novelists, is simply predictable.

Verdict: DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME (Translation: Not recommended)

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