I am a big fan of the television show “Ozark”. The writing is superb, the cast stellar. The characters are often frustrating, and it’s a bit bizarre when you find yourself regretting a drug lord getting murdered because he was just such an entertaining figure.
In a way, the tone of Bryan Gruley’s novel reminds me of my guilty pleasure show. The setting is quite a ways from Missouri, in southern Michigan. Andrew ‘Pete’ Peters, after failing as a financial advisor, decides to take his family away from Chicago to open a pot shop. While Pete is struggling with his business, wife Carey is struggling with her weekly commute back to Chi-Town, where she is loathe to quit her job and attempting to blackmail her employer. Meanwhile, son Danny is struggling to maintain his mental balance after the death of his beloved dog. When Danny is kidnapped, the Peters family suddenly finds that there is no such thing as a small lie and that there really are skeletons in everyone’s closets.
Just like in “Ozark”, there are plenty of times when the characters get so frustrating that you just want to toss Gruley’s book at them and tell them to get their act together already. This is not a bad thing! In fact, I found characters and plot quite engaging, even if the pacing seemed a bit uneven at times. The penultimate twist of the thing is delicious, even if it wasn’t too difficult to figure out, especially if you’re a seasoned viewer of crime dramas. The one thing that left me oddly unsatisfied is the very ending, which seems a tad contrived, but is probably meant to set up a sequel.
If you enjoy a gritty crime story paired with dirty family laundry, you’re going to love this book!
“Bleak Harbor” is published by Thomas & Mercer. I received an ARC in exchange for a review. All views are, needless to say, my own.