Bleak Harborby Bryan Gruley Published 01 Dec 2018
|Publisher||Thomas & Mercer|
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Their son is gone. Deep down, they think they’re to blame.
Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears.
When Danny’s mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there’s also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they’ve kept hidden—even from one another—have led to Danny’s abduction?
As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he’s taken from them forever.
"Bleak Harbor" Reviews
Bleak Harbor marks the return of Bryan Gruley, and not a moment too soon. I was a big fan of his Starvation Lake trilogy, but the last book in that series, The Skeleton Box, appeared in 2012, and I’ve been eagerly awaiting his next book ever since. It turns out, though, that the wait was well worth it. Bleak Harbor is a fast-paced, taut thriller that grabs the reader from the opening lines and refuses to let go until the final scenes have played out in the wake of a great climax.
At the center of the book is a troubled family living in Bleak Harbor, Michigan, a small town where the highlight of the summer tourist season is the annual Dragonfly Festival. Carey Peters, the wife and mother, is descended from the town’s founder. Her mother, Serenity Bleak, lives in a huge home overlooking the town, isolated from the rest of the residents, both geographically and economically. The Bleaks made a huge fortune from their various enterprises in the town, but the rest of the citizens have not done nearly as well, and many of them are experiencing hard times as several of the Bleaks’ businesses have closed, leaving their former employees high and dry. Carey is employed by a firm in Chicago and commutes back and forth to Bleak Harbor two or three times a week to see her family. She is estranged from her mother who has cut Carey out of her will.
Carey’s husband, Pete Peters, was once a high-flying commodities trader in Chicago, but he hit a bad streak and lost his job. He convinced Carey to move back to Bleak Harbor where he has opened a medical marijuana shop and is struggling to get the business up and running. Both Carey and Pete have dark secrets that they are hiding from each other, and their relationship is strained for a variety of reasons.
Carey’s son—Pete’s stepson—is fifteen-year-old Danny. Danny is on the autism spectrum and, while brilliant in some respects, can also be a “difficult” child. One thing that Carey and Pete do agree on is that they both love Danny very much. Danny and Pete have an excellent relationship, centered on fishing and other activities that they do together.
The book opens on the eve of Danny’s sixteenth birthday as the annual Dragonfly Festival is about to begin. Pete arrives home expecting to take Danny fishing. He finds that Danny has prepared the sandwiches and drinks they will be taking with them, but the boy himself is nowhere to be found. Shortly thereafter, Pete receives a photo of Danny bound to a chair with what appears to be a bruise on his cheek. Accompanying the photo is a demand for a huge ransom and with that, the book is off and running.
The plot is intricately designed; the characters, even the minor ones, are sharply drawn, and the tension is palpable throughout as Carey and Pete and a variety of law enforcement officials work to save Danny from a particularly fiendish and clever antagonist. In particular, as he demonstrated in the Starvation Lake series, Gruley excels at describing life in a small town like Bleak Harbor, where all sorts of secrets and machinations are at work beneath the surface. The setting is expertly rendered and becomes a character in and of itself. All in all, this is a very entertaining novel and the reader leaves the book very much hoping that it will not be another six years before we hear from Bryan Gruley again. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.
I really wanted to like this but it just wasn't for me.
Had potential but didn’t work for me unfortunately
When Carey and Pete's autistic son, Danny, goes missing, both start to panic as they assume their own sordid secrets could be to blame. Already at a breaking point, where can their relationship go from here... and most importantly, how are they going to come up with this ridiculous amount of strange dollar amount to get him back?!
It takes about 65 pages in for the story to ramp up. Even at this point I'm unsure where the plot it going.... but I'm super intrigued and need to find out what's going to happen. We get introduced to a variety of characters, their back stories and how they may or may not be complicit in what is happening to Danny. What I loved was how everyone was integrated and that we don't have one or three particular characters as part of the main plot line - really each character brings their own part.
I'll be honest though -the reveal just did not work for me. I wasn't particularly surprised about the main part and the reasoning behind it seems a tad bit ... elementary. Maybe that's fitting for that particular character and I've certainly read and seen people do far worse things for a lot smaller reasons... however, this one just didn't quite push my AHA button. Instead I was left a bit disappointed and wanting.
I do think those who like a more complicated plot that involves several characters and are more into the slower suspense will like this novel. I think my timing was a bit off for this one and in the vast amount of thrillers that I read, this one just fell a bit subpar for what I typically prefer.
Thank you Thomas & Mercer and Kaye Publicity for this copy.
I’m sorry but this was a terrible attempt to write a mystery novel with a little technology thrown in as a whim. Difficult to follow at times with numerous characters that come together in a weak conclusion. Not recommended.
This is a long drawn out story about an autistic child who was smarter than anybody gave him credit for. It is very confusing and has an abundance of f bombs I would not recommend it.