Tuesday, September 14, 2010

"The Hanging Tree"

Bryan Gruley is the critically acclaimed author of Starvation Lake, a nominee for an Edgar Award for Best First Novel by the Mystery Writers of America.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Hanging Tree, and reported the following:
The Hanging Tree is about a young, troubled woman found hanging in a tree outside the fictional town of Starvation Lake in northern lower Michigan. Circumstances of Gracie McBride’s death suggest the apparent suicide could be homicide.

Page 69 has little to do with Gracie’s death but a lot to do with Gus Carpenter, the story’s narrator and Gracie’s second cousin, who is investigating her death.

On Page 69, Gus recalls part of a long ago ago day he spent poring over confidential documents in the offices of a prominent Detroit plaintiff’s lawyer.

The flashback offers no gunplay, no fisticuffs, no blood, and zero sex, at least of the carnal variety. But within the details that Gus relates--from the turkey sandwiches to his grinning at the secretary to his deal with Laird Haskell--there is seduction, complicity, and the foreshadowing of disaster.

Gus “readily” agrees that everything he sees will be off the record until the lawyer, Haskell, lets him make it public. “It was better than nothing,” Gus says, “and I couldn’t imagine that Haskell wouldn’t want me to tell the world how Superior had behaved prior to the untimely death of the father of five.”

We learn a little about Gus and a little about Haskell. And we learned a little more about each in the ensuing pages as this car crash in slow motion plays out. It’s all vital to understanding two of the most important characters in the story, and why they behave as they do as Gracie’s death propels them to their fates.

That said, I suggest you start on Page 1.
Browse inside The Hanging Tree, and learn more about the book and author at Bryan Gruley's website and The Hanging Tree website.

The Page 69 Test: Starvation Lake.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue