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Starvation Lake

Starvation Lake

A Mystery

  • reading group guide
Finalist for the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, Harlan Coben meets early Dennis Lehane in this “smashing debut thriller” (Chicago Tribune), set in a small northern Michigan town by a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist.

In the dead of a Michigan winter, pieces of a snowmobile wash up near the crumbling, small town of Starvation Lake—the same snowmobile that went down with Starvation’s legendary hockey coach years earlier. But everybody knows Coach Blackburn's accident happened five miles away on a different lake. As rumors buzz about mysterious underground tunnels, the evidence from the snowmobile says one thing: murder.

Gus Carpenter, editor of the local newspaper, has recently returned to Starvation after a failed attempt to make it big at the Detroit Times. In his youth, Gus was the goalie who let a state championship get away, crushing Coach's dreams and earning the town's enmity. Now he's investigating the murder of his former coach. But even more unsettling to Gus are the holes in the town’s past and the gnawing suspicion that those holes may conceal some dark and disturbing secrets—secrets that some of the people closest to him may have killed to keep.
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  • Touchstone | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416564003 | 
  • March 2009
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide includes discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Bryan Gruley. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Questions for Discussion

1. Some of the residents of Starvation Lake seem to think that opening the Blackburn investigation is only stirring up the mud, and would prefer to keep the past in the past. “Why bother? Nobody here wants to know the truth anyway” (361). Should the town be made aware of the truth, or do you think that the investigation opens old wounds unnecessarily?

2. Starvation Lake is a hockey town. How has the sport, and his failure to save a championship-winning shot in particular, informed the way Gus has lived his life?

3. In Starvation Lake, the newspaper, television station, lawyers and police force often compete with one another to piece together clues and uncover evidence. Do you think that this is an accurate portrayal of how the media and law enforcement interact with one another in the real world?

4. As a coach, Jack Blackburn emphasized “the ultimate goal see more

About the Author

Bryan Gruley
Photo Credit: Sigrid Estrada

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. Visit BryanGruley.com.

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