Book Review: Bleak Harbor

BLEAK HARBOR | Bryan Gruley
(Bleak Harbor #1)
12.01.2018 | Thomas & Mercer
Rating: 4/5 stars


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parents over the state of their son’s well-being in this kidnapping situation, as he is autistic and extremely socially withdrawn.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?

Soon this will all be over, he thinks. Soon you will be saved. We will all be saved.

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.

They don’t seem like the happiest couple. But then who is the happiest couple but for a few scant years? On top of the usual, natural distancing over time and space, Carey and Pete Peters have some of their own complications: the commuting, the new business, and of course, whatever challenges Danny must present.

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.

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