Fourteen friends met for book club on this frigid February evening.
A special evening for Whodunit as we celebrated the 15th anniversary of the club's meeting in our present location. Quite a record for a book club!
The book discussed this evening was "Starvation Lake" by Bryan Gruley.
A debut novel in what is now a series of three titles, the clubs rating out of ten was 6.8 points with half the persons in attendance stating they wanted to read more novels by this author.
Set in northern Michigan, the novel's protagonist Gus Carpenter is a talented hockey goalie. Though Gus walked under a shadow. He was blamed for the town's hockey team losing the state championship game back when he was a teenager. Since then the town's team hasn't come close and Gus is the scapegoat they blame as a jinx. After that fiasco he left home for Detroit and a career in journalism. That too went 'belly-up' and he returned home to Starvation Lake to get himself back on his feet. Now he works on the small town newspaper as editor.
Ten years ago his former hockey coach went through the ice on his snowmobile. When the snowmobile is washed up at a different lake than the one where the accident occurred there is rampant speculation of underground tunnels and finally murder. Gus and his paper set out to investigate this, the town's biggest news in a decade. The investigation leads to unearthing some dark and dirty secrets which hit close to home.
For a first novel, there were many positive comments such as:
Many of the characters were likeable
Vivid depictions of small town life
Lots of hockey scenes
The author's passion for hockey comes through the narrative
On the negative side:
Too many hockey scenes with too much detail about the game
Too much repetition
The central character of Gus was portrayed as naive and immature. He seemed self-absorbed. He let one occurrence in his past colour his whole life. The town compounded his guilt by dwelling on his failure. They dwelled on him because he did the only bad thing in the town that wasn't a 'secret'. They couldn't talk about what was really at the root of the 'town rot'.
Some characters were pitiful favorites like Gus's friend Soupy.
An overall favorite character was Sheriff Dingus Aho.
One of the least favorite characters was the paper's receptionist Tilly.
Gus's mother was disliked by some readers, while others thought her to have made the best of a deplorable situation.
By the end of the novel, (which held a surprise for many Whodunit members), Gus had matured somewhat which bodes well for future novels in the series.
One member, Carmella, declared that this club meeting was a "Who won it" rather than a "Whodunit" as there were six lucky winners of book giveaways.
The Whodunit Book Club will meet next on Tuesday March 25th when we will discuss
"Crossing places" by Elly Griffith.