Bleak Harborby Published 01 Dec 2018
|Publisher||Thomas & Mercer|
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When Danny’s mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst.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
I really wanted to like this but it just wasn't for me.
Back in 2008/2009, an advance reader edition of a little novel was given to me by Wendy Sheanin at Simon & Schuster with a note saying "I think you will like this one, and the author lives in Chicago.'. That novel is STARVATION LAKE, and it was like a smack to the back of the head, in a good way. A very good way. Gruley's debut was lauded with good reason, it is filled with a great story peopled with believable characters. Two novels followed, continuing the story of Gus Carpenter and the people of Starvation Lake, Michigan. 2012 was the last time I read fiction from Gruley, being teased with email and social media comments of a fourth novel coming. AT LAST!! I got another smack to the back of the head from BLEAK HARBOR. Gruley knows small town Michigan and his writing takes you into the small corner bar and lakeside homes. HIs characters are everyday people, like your neighbors - only with some major problems. Carey is the offspring of the founding family of Bleak Harbor, and her relationship with her Mother is strained to say the least. Her son Danny is a brilliant, gifted loner suffering from autism. Her husband Pete is, well Pete runs a medicinal marijuana shop in Bleak Harbor and he too has problems. When Danny is abducted, Cary and Pete's problems rear up to haunt them. Will their secrets destroy any chance of finding Danny? Enter a cast of characters, local police force, FBI agents, drug lord thugs and the locals of normally peaceful Bleak Harbor. The writing flows from the start at a smooth pace, revealing bits and pieces of the character's pasts for you, but when Gruley steps on the pedal you are in for a thrill ride. I suspected the twist and it was delivered wonderfully. These are people that you want to know about, even the 'bad guys', and Gruley knows how to write and deliver them. I was getting very antsy, waiting for this one, but damn it was worth it. A special THANK YOU to Bryan for writing this one... I look forward to the next one. Maybe a return to Bleak Harbor?
Had potential but didn’t work for me unfortunately
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.
Bleak Harbor is the epitome of a summer town, where wealthy families come to vacation and tourists are attracted to their unique Dragonfly Festival. The town is named after the Bleak family, who’s matriarch, Serenity, lives in a gated mansion in town, while her children choose to be estranged. Carey Peters is the daughter the daughter of Serenity. Along with her husband, Pete, and son, Danny, the Peters family have just returned to live in Bleak Harbor. They live a relatively quiet life here. Carey is still commuting to her old job in Chicago. Pete is running a marijuana dispensary. And Danny is trying to find a place to fit in.
One day while Carey is at work and Pete is nursing his business concerns over alcohol, Danny goes missing. Carey and Pete instantly fear the worst after receiving a photo of Danny tied to a chair, along with a ransom request. Danny is a brilliant boy, but Carey and Pete worry more than typical parents over the state of their son’s well-being in this kidnapping situation, as he is autistic and extremely socially withdrawn. Soon texts and emails come pouring into the couple revealing secrets they would rather leave buried. Who abducted Danny? How do they know so much about their private lives? Was Danny kidnapped because of something Carey or Pete did?
When Bryan Gruley reached out to be about reviewing his novel I instantly found the plot interesting and accepted. After reading this book, I am so happy Gruley reached out to me! BLEAK HARBOR was a book I thought I would enjoy going into it and it ended up being such a surprising, twisty ride of so much more than I was expecting.
BLEAK HARBOR on the surface is the story of a kidnapped teenage son, Danny, who happens to have autism, being held for ransom by an unknown person. The parents of Danny have much more happening in their lives than meets the surface and the secrets they are hiding leave both of them wondering if their actions lead to the abduction. Get ready for some serious drama! Carey and Pete are all over the place with their pasts, presents, and the next moves they choose to make during the abduction. I couldn’t stop second guessing whether or not I liked either parent and certainly didn’t trust what they were revealing about themselves.
The best part of this book is that there are actually a lot more characters involved in the plot than you initially go into the book thinking there will be. Gruley casts these characters each with their own unique backstory that truly helps the reader become more connected to them. While they may not be the main focus of the book, each secondary character has an important role or function within the story and the end result. While we’re talking end results...I loved the ending of BLEAK HARBOR! I definitely still have some questions for several characters and am curious about where their lives will take them, but overall I was satisfied with the way things wrapped up. If you’re looking for a fast-paced thriller that will really make you think and contemplate character’s actions I highly recommend giving BLEAK HARBOR a shot!
While rating this on Goodreads I realized there is going to be a second book in the series (currently slated for 2020), but then also saw a comment from Gruley saying it won’t focus on advancing this story. I can definitely see this town having more secrets up its sleeve, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for the next installment.