Haunted by dark secrets and an unsolved mystery, a young doctor returns to his isolated Adirondacks hometown in a tense, gripping novel in the vein of Michael Koryta and Harlan Coben.
Burying the past only gives it strength—and fury.
Nate McHale has assembled the kind of life most people would envy. After a tumultuous youth marked by his inexplicable survival of a devastating tragedy, Nate left his Adirondack hometown of Greystone Lake and never looked back. Fourteen years later, he’s become a respected New York City surgeon, devoted husband, and loving father.
Then a body is discovered deep in the forests that surround Greystone Lake.
This disturbing news finally draws Nate home. While navigating a tense landscape of secrets and suspicion, resentments and guilt, Nate reconnects with estranged friends and old enemies, and encounters strangers who seem to know impossible things about him. Haunting every moment is the Lake’s sinister history and the memory of wild, beautiful Lucy Bennett, with whom Nate is forever linked by shattering loss and youthful passion.
As a massive hurricane bears down on the Northeast, the air becomes electric, the clouds grow dark, and escalating acts of violence echo events from Nate’s own past. Without a doubt, a reckoning is coming—one that will lay bare the lies that lifelong friends have told themselves and unleash a vengeance that may consume them all.
Praise for The Storm King
“Brendan Duffy’s second book mingles horror, historical fiction, supernatural suspense and old-fashioned murder mystery, the rare phantasmagoria whose pieces click into a satisfying resolution. . . . This is a gutsy, intricate, evocative piece of mischief, much closer than anyone usually gets to that particular spell cast by Stephen King.”—USA Today
“Duffy follows his debut, House of Echoes, with a stunning literary thriller, which combines accomplished wordsmithing with startling twists.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“An elaborately layered, creepily atmospheric story that blends haunting legends and the psychological terror of a murderer on the hunt. A winning thriller sure to draw readers of Jennifer McMahon, Ruth Ware, and Michael Koryta.”—Booklist (starred review)
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.70(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Boy Who Fell
For Nate, Saturdays in the spring means baseball.
His teammates think playing the outfield is ignominious, but he likes it. There’s a meditative appeal to a morning spent watching for hard-struck balls as they spin and slow at the height of their parabolas.
He’s not the most attentive of fielders, but Nate does all right at the plate. He’s third on Greystone Lake’s junior varsity team in RBIs, and when he takes warm-up swings the shouts from the bleachers are authentic.
His mother, father, and brother are among those cheering this last Saturday in April. It’s just a scrimmage against North Hampstead, so Mom’s attendance is unusual. She goes to the real games, but most weekends find her up with the sun and working in her vegetable garden. Nate’s little brother, Gabe, would play in the grass as Mom fussed over her plants. Neither of them are in the garden today, because Mom strained her back, and her seedlings can survive a few days without weeding. Gabe doesn’t mind, because he likes baseball. For some time, he’s been counting the days until he graduates from T-ball. Dad doesn’t make it to all of Nate’s games, either, but this is the kind of day that makes every cell in your body sing, and he can read the Times during lulls in the action as easily as he could at their kitchen table.
Nate’s team wins thanks to a triple he hits in the ninth inning. Though the matchup isn’t an important one, there are whoops and smiles all around. His coach gives Nate the game ball, and Nate feels proud that his family was there to watch him play well and win.
Mom calls him her baseball hero. What type of pie would her baseball hero like for dessert tonight? she wants to know. There’s an organic market at the Wharf, and she’ll make any kind he wants. She asks to see Nate’s game ball, and that makes him feel proud, too.
His team plays on one of the high school’s fields, near the center of Greystone Lake, and it’s just a few minutes’ drive from there to the Wharf in Dad’s old black Passat. The Wharf itself is only a few minutes from the McHales’ home on Great Heron Drive. The town along the shore is not a large one.
It’s early in the year for tourists, but there’s still a good crowd at the market. Visitors browse for honey, jams, and baked goods while the locals from the Lake and nearby towns buy produce trucked from afar and fish fresh from their home waters. The sky being bell clear and the breeze warm, Dad suggests they picnic in the headlands. This isn’t something they do often, but it’s an intoxicating day. The lake glitters in the sun, and from that height the town will look like a jewel set into the crown of mountains.
They buy baguettes, cured meats, cheeses, and sun-brewed iced teas. Gabe wheedles himself a bottle of artisanal root beer. Vendors sell cherries from California and strawberries from Arizona, but Nate is drawn to the first of the season’s peaches from Florida. He touches them as carefully as he would an infant’s head. Mom buys a basket of the fruit.
The Passat’s trunk is full of baseball equipment and a pile of uncorrected papers from Dad’s AP U.S. history class, so Dad places the bags of food in the back with Nate and Gabe while Mom rides up front with the peaches on her lap. Nate’s game ball is still where she left it on her seat. To avoid sitting on it, she gently places the grass-stained ball in the basket with the peaches.
This is important.
Nate realizes later that it had all been important.
The headlands rise along Greystone Lake’s western shore. Hiking paths are carved throughout the protected woodlands, with parking lots marking the major trailheads. Among the nooks of interest that dot the headlands, Nate’s parents favor a particular meadow. In the deep of the old-growth forest, an open space slopes toward the water and offers an unmatched view of the lake and town.
To reach it, they drive beyond the great houses of the Strand, where the boulevard branches from the shore to the headlands. The road there climbs the hills in switchbacks above the lake; it’s closed during the winter months when its blind turns are too treacherous to be passable.
But this Saturday in April, winter is a distant memory. The wind carries ripe forest smells into the car, and waterfowl patrol the shore below them.
Nate is watching one such flock when the Passat swerves and he’s knocked hard against the window glass. He looks up to see a green Jeep with flashing lights looming beyond the windshield. His mother gasps, and the basket of peaches overturns in her lap. There’s another car now, a shiny SUV straddling the center line like an elephant walking a tightrope. Dad accelerates to get the Passat out of its path. A curve is just ahead.
Nate sees Dad stomp the brakes, but their speed does not change. He hears Mom scream his father’s name as she bends to pull at something at his feet. The peaches, Nate realizes. No, he thinks a moment later. The baseball. Dad cannot slow the car because it’s wedged under the brake. Mom tries to pull it away, but it will not budge while Dad presses all of his strength into the pedal.
Gabe reaches across the space between them to grab Nate’s hand. In the flurry of the moment, this surprises Nate as much as the knock against the window, because Gabe made it very clear on his last birthday, his sixth, that he expected everyone to stop treating him like a baby. Nate looks at his brother and sees that his mouth is wide open but no sound is coming from it.
He wants to tell Gabe not to worry, but then they’re through the guardrail. The bright sky that had filled the windshield darkens into the empty slate of the lake. No more than a few seconds have passed since Nate had his head rapped against the glass, but that life is already over. He realizes this when Mom turns to look at him.
He often tries to recall the look in her eyes. What does a mother try to convey to her child when they have moments to live? Fear or regret? Sadness or pity? When Nate summons her expression in that instant, he tries to find love. But the only thing on her face is horror. They fall too quickly for it to be anything else.
In the movies Nate has seen, events like this are shown in slow-motion. This underscores the importance of the scene. In these fraught seconds, the slightest look and gesture is given momentous gravity. Consciousness extends as it senses the imminence of its conclusion.
But these moments don’t stretch for Nate. The Passat falls like the ton and a half of metal that it is. One moment they are weightless and his mother is looking at him, and then the windshield explodes and the lake takes them.
Nate comes back to himself on the rocks. There’s a tortured sound around him. A raw and gasping cry like a person torn in half. It echoes across the water and up the cliffs as if it cannot find a place to rest. His chest feels as if it’s crushed in the fist of a giant. To breathe is agony. He cannot feel his arm, and his baseball uniform is now more red than white. His first thought is that the lake’s glittering surface was a lie, because he is cold to his marrow. There’s a phantom memory of ice water locked in a vise around his throat.
His body is wracked with pain and seizing with chills. He wipes blood from his eyes and searches the stony water for his family, but they are gone.
Only then does he realize that the scream he hears is his own.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received an advance copy of this thriller and was glad to be ahead of the pack. It is a well structured tale that is fraught with twists and turns. The way Duffy unravels this story is masterful. I enjoyed his first book, "House of Echoes". but found this even more engaging. Great character and plot development. Duffy really draws the read into his web.
I had to take the day to read the entire book. The characters are really developed and the plot has a great hook. Loved it.
The Storm King is stuffed full of well-written characters, unpredictable plotting, and dynamic pacing. All of which makes this fascinating novel a book not to be missed. The writer takes us to the Adirondacks in New York which in and of itself makes the reader twitch with unfamiliarity and timidity. But the book is not all setting and character. There is mercurial action, suspense, and drama. The action takes place in the past as well as in the right now, a feature which makes the book even more interesting and readable. I like The Storm King and I like Mr. Duffy. Here is hoping that he has a long and prosperous career.
This intricately woven story follows the return of the prodigal son of an upstate New York lake town and swiftly lures the reader into a dark, dusty web of loss, cruelty and revenge. Duffy creates complex characters that are unique and well-drawn. His frequent twists and turns, particularly in the latter half, make for a riveting read. A must read for 2018!
The Storm King is an intricate and riveting read. The author slowly unravels the complexities of the main character, Nate, now a budding pediatric oncologic surgeon, as the long held secrets of the home town he returns to get revealed as the plot twists and turns. This is more than a suspenseful story. It is a morality tale. It is unquenchable revenge. It is suffering, regret and, perhaps in the end, partial redemption. It is also a story not soon to be forgotten.
I thought that this was a rather interesting book. I have had this one in my review pile for some time but hadn't yet worked it into my reading schedule for one reason or another. I decided to grab the audio and give it a try. I was initially drawn to the book by its description and the mysterious cover. I did enjoy the story and am glad that I finally had the chance to read it. Nate is at the center of this story and while I liked his character, I was never quite sure if he should be trusted. We see Nate as both a teenager and an adult. As an adult, Nate is a pediatric oncologist and a husband and father. His life seems very upstanding but as I worked my way through the book, it seemed that he had a few things that he might be hiding. As a child, Nate's family were in an accident at the lake which left his parents and sibling dead. He grew up with his grandmother after the accident and grew close to a group of friends which included his girlfriend, Lucy Bennett. This was one of those books that the more you read the more connected the events in the story seemed to become. Everything seemed to be tied together in one way or another. As an adult, Nate returns to town when Lucy's remains are found and events from the past are brought to the forefront. The story did keep me guessing and I was never quite sure which direction things might end up going. I really liked the way that the story was laid out giving the reader just enough of both the present and the past to really keep the story moving. I thought that Jon Lindstrom did a fantastic job with the narration. I believe that this was my first experience with this narration and I have no complaints at all. He did a wonderful job with all of the character voices and I thought that the dialogue flowed nicely. He had a very pleasant voice and I thought that he was able to bring a lot of excitement to the story. I wouldn't hesitate to listen to his work again in the future. I would recommend this book to others. I thought that this was a well-done mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. It was interesting to see how interconnected the events in the book were and how everything came together in the end. I look forward to reading more of Brendan Duffy. I received a digital review copy of this book from Random House - Ballantine Books via NetGalley and purchased a copy of the audiobook.
I wanted to like this book. I really did. At first I thought the characters were hard to get a handle on, but I kept reading, and it didn,t get better. They aren,t one dimensional, they,re non dimensional. What kind of doc takes a Greyhound back home to a funeral? And wears a suit to a bar in a rainstorm? The setting is pure baloney, too, especially for readers who may actually live in or even just visited the Adirondacks, and by the way, upstate New Yorkers distinguish between the mountainous eastern region and the North Country. Even the weather is screwy. Warm enough to picnic in April in the Adirondacks? Hurricane storm surges on an upstate NY mountain lake? HURRICANE?? The plot defies human behavior at even its most peculiar. Good title, and overall probably an interesting concept for a novel. Wish it worked.
Some authors write books that leave you completely satisfied when you are done reading and eagerly awaiting their next book, whatever the subject. Brendan Duffy is one of those authors. Duffy’s previous book, House of Echoes, was published about three years ago, so the details weren’t that fresh in my mind. But as soon as I saw his name as the author of The Storm King, I knew I wanted to have it as soon as it was released, and I knew I would once again finish with that satisfied feeling. You know when you turn the final page it was time well spent. The Storm King is mesmerizing from beginning to end. After a body is discovered in Greystone Lake, Nate McHale returns to the hometown he left fourteen years earlier. He is not comfortable there and the tension is palpable. No one is what they seem to be, or what they seemed to be all those years ago. He is estranged from his friends, his old enemies are still around, strangers seem to present danger, and a massive hurricane that almost feels like a character in itself is coming. The story jumps around in time but makes perfect sense. The suspense builds until you can’t turn the pages fast enough. I highly recommend that you read The Storm King, go back and read House of Echoes, and put Brendan Duffy on your automatic pre-order list. (Note this review was unsolicited; I did not receive a complimentary copy of the book.)
A very good read... once I got used to the time being in the past and jumping to present.. Small town mystery.
This quick-paced crime thriller is based in the beautiful city of Savannah, Georgia, a place I’ve loved all my life. As soon as I saw the book description, I had to read it. The author, Christi Daugherty, does a wonderful job referencing the town; the strict patterns of town blocks, the riverfront with its brick pavers, the trees with their veils of moss. She also brings brilliantly to light the life and high energy of Harper McClain, a crime reporter working the beat in the seedier areas of the city. Harper hasn’t had an easy life; she lost her mother when she was 12 years old, has always been estranged from her father, and with the exception of her best friend Bonnie, trusts no one. Harper’s father figure was the entire police department, a habit that started early when the lead investigator in her mother’s death took her under his wing and oversaw her development thru school. Harper is reporting on an hours-old murder when she’s stunned to realize many of the circumstances are exactly the same as her mother’s murder fifteen years earlier. She strays from her original purpose of reporting the facts to the public and begins her own one-man investigation team to solve who, how and why these two murders happened. This is a fast paced who-dun-it with colorful characters in a beautifully historical river city. It’s a very enjoyable quick read. (I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review. Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for making it available.)
Thanks to Netgalley and Random House/Penguin/Ballantine for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The Storm King was a strong sophomore run from Brendan Duffy, and was a mystery/thriller with bite. Some have been comparing his atmosphere to Stephen King, and I can totally pick up on that vibe. You've got the small town where bad stuff went down. You've got the adult coming home to said small town, years later, and meeting up with old friends and enemies. You've got flashbacks to when they were young and all the bad stuff was happening. You've got explosive climaxes and bitter but hopeful denouements in all the story threads, past and present. I can totally see King as an influence. Overall, I really enjoyed the book. Once I got past the first bit, it really picked up and I read the last 70% or so in one sitting. Seriously, couldn't put it down. The short chapters really made that "just one more chapter" problem I have even worse. I think it was well-plotted, the solutions and storylines made complete sense and worked with the story, and the characters were deep and developed and brought to life on the page. When it comes down to it, I have two major issues with the book. To start, the first few paragraphs almost made me put the book down. From the perspective of a teenager, it felt off-kilter and forced, with all the "big words" that teenagers (and most non-reading adults) wouldn't use, and definitely wouldn't think about while playing baseball. It's a minor issue, but it was jarring and weird and turned me off. I'm glad I pushed past it and kept reading, because if you ask those around me while I was reading it, I was complaining about it... loudly. Secondly, I felt like the reveal of the killer and the killer's identity was kinda meh. Where it went from there was super-effing-creepy, and there were hints leading up to the reveal dropped into the characters' shared histories, but I was kind of hoping for more when I read so many jaw-dropping reviews of the novel. When it comes down to it, the book was great, and I can't praise the atmosphere and setting that Duffy has created enough. He did an amazing job making me feel like I was there... like the Lake was a part of me, like it was a part of the characters. He developed his characters and unraveled and rewove his plot with sophistication and ease. I'll definitely be checking out his debut, which I missed (House of Echoes), in the future, and keep an eye out for future books by the guy. Four "Just June" stars.