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Extended Audio Sample The Hanging Tree, by Bryan Gruley Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (531 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bryan Gruley Narrator: Rich Orlow Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Starvation Lake Mysteries Release Date:
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When Gracie McBride, the wild girl who had left town eighteen years earlier, is found dead in an apparent suicide shortly after her homecoming, it sends shock waves through her native Starvation Lake. Gus Carpenter, executive editor of the Pine County Pilot, sets out to solve the mystery with the help of his old flame and now girlfriend, Pine County sheriff deputy Darlene Esper. As Gus and Darlene investigate, they can’t help but question if Gracie’s troubled life really ended in suicide or if the suspicious crime-scene evidence adds up to murder.

But in such a small town it’s impossible to be an impartial investigator—Gracie was Gus’ second cousin, Darlene’s best friend, and the lover of Gus’ oldest pal, Soupy Campbell. Yet with all the bad blood between Gus and Gracie over the years, Gus is easily distracted by other problems. His employer is trying to push him out, the locals are annoyed that his stories have halted construction on a new hockey rink, and Darlene’s estranged husband has returned to reclaim his wife.

When Gus tries to retrace Gracie’s steps to discover what happened to her in the eighteen years she was away from Starvation Lake, he’s forced to return to Detroit, the scene of his humiliating past. And though he’s determined to find out what drove Gracie back home, Gus is unprepared for the terrible secrets he uncovers.

The second book in Bryan Gruley’s irresistible Starvation Lake series, The Hanging Tree is a compelling story about family and friendship, sex and violence, and the failure of love to make everything right.

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Quotes & Awards

  • The Hanging Tree is a terrific story, a dark-hearted mystery entwined in a bullet-fast thriller. Gruley is one of the good ones.”

    John Sandford

  • “Haunting, observant, and filled with complex characters that will remind you just how much you don’t trust your neighbors. The Hanging Tree will pry its way into your imagination. And it won’t leave.”

    Brad Meltzer

  • The Hanging Tree is an engrossing, sure-footed mystery that manages to be both suspenseful and deeply touching.”

    Gillian Flynn, New York Times bestselling author

  • “As with Starvation Lake before it, The Hanging Tree is an exceptionally well-written novel by an author who has mastered the conventions of his genre.”

    Associated Press

  • “Absorbing...Gruley vividly evokes the frigid Michigan winters and the even chillier atmosphere of an insular community determined to keep its secrets.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Regardless of your level of hockey interest, you’ll relish Rich Orlow’s subtle vocal technique, his unflagging attention, and persuasive performance.”


  • “Gruley captures the hardscrabble life of a recession-rocked small town and the deep interrelationships of the inhabitants while delivering complex, intriguing characters caught up in trouble. His take on contemporary journalism is Evelyn Waugh–worthy. Another winner.”


  • “[The Hanging Tree] has it all—suspense, mystery, romance, detection, [and] clear-eyed hometown nostalgia.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • Selected for the August 2010 Indie Next List
  • One of the 2010 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: Mysteries
  • A 2011 Barry Award Nominee for Best Paperback Original
  • A 2011 Anthony Award Nominee for Best Paperback Original

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Bob | 2/6/2014

    " In Gruley's second Starvation Lake mystery we explore more of Gus's past when an old family friend is found dead in a near by shoe tree. Gus's tenacity and hunger for the truth are seriously put to the test as he uncovers some ugly truths about the people he loves and thinks he knows. The characters in this second novel are even more solid than the first and the mystery is way more complex. Gruley knows how to weave a story. In his first novel it is not difficult to divine what the outcome will be, but the way it all unfolds makes the journey worthwhile. In this sequel the mystery remained quite hidden until the final moments (to me at least) and packed the double punch of being both a satisfying read and a twisted mystery. After two books set in a small town in Northern Michigan I feel like I know these characters, like I could drive an hour south and run into Gus or Soupy on the streets of Starvation Lake. I already eagerly await the next chapter of Gus's life! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Casey Mead | 1/15/2014

    " This was my first first-reads that I done. I enjoyed the book, even though mystery is my genre of choice, this is probably one I wouldn't have picked on my own. The main character Gus Carpenter is the executive editor of the Pine County Pilot, the local newspaper in the small town of Starvation Lake. The trouble begins when Gracie McBride is found hanging from the town's "Hanging Tree", after her return to Starvation Lake after being away for 18 years. Although everyone assumes it is suicide, Gus and Darlene, Gus' girlfriend and sheriff deputy, believe there is foul play. Gus must dig into Gracie's years living in Detroit, and discovers secrets he doesn't expect. I liked the small town setting, and the jaded former big city reporter character of Gus. This is the second book in the series, but I had no problems jumping into it without reading the first. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Dottie | 1/4/2014

    " Reasonable mystery.....not as much about hockey in this book, but it didn't add anything to the story for me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Sherri | 1/3/2014

    " Once again, I really liked this book. I read the first book in the series last week and I loved it! This one did not disappoint either. I highly recommend reading this whole series. "

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About the Author
Author Bryan Gruley

Bryan Gruley is reporter at large for Bloomberg News and the former Pulitzer Prize–winning Chicago bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal. He has won the Anthony, Barry, and Strand Awards and was nominated for an Edgar Award for best first novel. He lives with his wife in Chicago.