by Bryan Gruley
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When Danny's mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst.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.
Daniel is a 15/16 year old who’s obsessed with dragon flies, handy as his town of Bleak Harbor holds an annual Dragonfly Festival. But Danny has been kidnapped. He’s an autistic kid and a likable character, sharp as a tac. After his mother Carey receives a photo of Danny and a ransom demand, there follows a trail of narrative reveals that have lasting consequences.
Carey is a member of the town’s founding family, some of whom have made a fortune from various local enterprises. One of them, her estranged mother Serenity Bleak, lives in a mansion overlooking the town. Serenity has no plans to leave money to Carey, or her mayor brother, instead the fortune is to go to Bleak Harbor, but there are clauses. The rest of the town is not faring well financially, the work is drying up. Carey works in Chicago three days a week and commutes back and forth to Michigan (Bleak Harbor) to see her family. Her boss has demoted her after an affair but she has files on him. He’s dodgy and like many unscrupulous business men, has a ‘fixer’. Maybe he can help get her son back?
Carey’s partner is Pete, Danny’s step dad. He loves the kid and does the fatherly things with him but Pete’s a drinker and lazy. He is back in Bleak Harbor working at his new business, a cannabis shop, his own financial history is chequered to say the least. Another key player is the shop girl. It looks like she’s gone into hiding but could something sinister be happening, maybe to do with a previous employer? Pete’s Pot Shop not doing well and this also brings him into contact with bad people.
With the past being a problem for all our characters the story throws up a whole manner of secrets and lies. It’s a fast-paced affair with motivations and deeds cleverly hidden. Here is a family with a missing son. A family that, deep down, thinks it may be to blame. There are many flawed characters, interesting individuals, of depth, and then there’s Danny, the most interesting of all.
About the author
Bryan Gruley is an award-winning author. He previously acclaimednovels include the Starvation Lake trilogy, which include Edgar finalist STARVATION LAKE, THE HANGING TisEE, and THE SKELETON BOX. When he's not making stuff up, he's a staff reporter Bloomberg News and Bloomberg Businessweek magazine. The former Chicago bureau chief of the Wall Street Journal shared in the Pulitzer Prize given to the Wall Street Journal in 2002 for coverage of the September 11 terrorist attacks. A graduate of Notre Dame, avid hockey player and amateur musician, he currently lives with his wife, Pam, in Chicago.