In this excellent debut novel, hockey is a metaphor for life, so if you hate hockey and all the violence that skates along with it, this book may not be for you. That would be your loss, however, because this ice-bound tale of a failed hockey player turned failed journalist makes for unusually gripping reading. Set in 1998, Gus "Trap" Carpenter has scuttled back to the small northern Michigan town of his birth to edit a small newspaper that never prints anything negative about the locals. Trap's self-loathing increases when a snowmobile once belonging to his revered but long-dead hockey coach surfaces from a lake bed, bearing the unmistakable imprint of a bullet. He suspects that his coach was murdered, and not the victim of an accident, as was originally believed. But Trap, reluctant as usual to print the ugly truth, busies himself with harmless articles about a local Bigfoot museum and a proposed recreational development near the town's marina. Eventually, though, the once-gutsy journalist in him reemerges, and he risks what's left of his career to find out the truth.
Watching Trap get his spine back, both on and off the ice, is sheer joy. By the end of Starvation Lake, Trap has learned that life--just like hockey--may beat you up, but you continue to play.