Author Bryan Gruley specialises in somber titles --
STARVATION LAKE, HANGING TREE, SKELETON BOX. With this
current thriller, the explanation is that a family called
Bleak founded a town in Michigan on woodyards and steel,
both industries now closed. Tourism and fishing are about
all that's left. The matriarch of the Bleaks wants the town
renamed, to her first name, Serenity Harbor. If the town
council can get its act together, they'll inherit her
fortune. Left out in the cold, in a BLEAK HARBOR indeed, is
the actual family heir.
Danny Peters is nearly sixteen, on the autism spectrum, much
loved by his mom Carey and stepfather Pete. When Danny is
kidnapped the huge ransom demand presumes that Serenity will
cough up the money, but the family doesn't speak. Carey has
to involve the police, despite her ongoing attempts to
blackmail an employer who cast her off. She learns that
Danny's biological father has been released from jail. Could
the day of dread get any worse?
Strong language, adult references, and menace abound. This
is the first book I've read which involves someone running a
shop selling legal medical marijuana, and we see the
immediate problem, which is that distributors of the illegal
variety don't like their market to vanish. Whether someone
intended to run a clean business or not, how long can they
stay clean? I believe the author has thought the matter
through carefully, and time alone will tell as laws expand
to further states.
The story gradually fills with cryptic texts, truncated
e-mails and dodged phone calls. A virus, defaced local
newspaper website and cruel rumours complete the string of
woes and miscommunication. So much is being sent in so many
directions that you'll need to keep track of the demands and
double crosses. Carey and Pete each keep going back over
their actions, each one silently thinking guilty thoughts.
They were getting by, just making ends meet, and doing their
best for young Danny, or so they thought. Now they just want
him back safe.
This is undoubtedly one of the most complex, plotted and
disturbing novels I've read in some time. Bryan Gruley has
created characters who are good, bad, middling and ordinary
and thrown them into chaos mixed with cold, logical control.
BLEAK HARBOR will stay in your mind long after you finish
Their son is gone. Deep down, they think they’re to
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.