By Bryan Gruley, Touchstone, $15.00, 314 pages

10Gus Carpenter’s life has settled down since he returned to his hometown of Starvation Lake, Michigan. He is a reporter for the local paper, his relationship with his girlfriend Darlene is going well and he is able to indulge in playing in the local hockey league. Things fall apart, though, when his cousin, Gracie, is found hung on a tree. Convinced her death wasn’t a suicide, Gus starts investigating the clues behind her death. In doing so, he unlocks secrets that threaten to destroy his job, his relationship with Darlene and put him in danger.

The Hanging Tree is the second novel featuring Gus Carpenter and is a terrific mystery novel. A journalist by trade, Bryan Gruley shows his skill in creating characters that are well-written, complex and come to life for the reader. The story is well conceived and written in a crisp style with a fast pace that keeps the tension high and the reader engaged throughout. This is a refreshingly well-written novel that fans of mysteries will take delight in reading.

Reviewed by Barbara Cothern