Review: The Storm King by Brendan Duffy

Title: The Storm King by Brendan Duffy
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 401 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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.


With a narrative that seamlessly weaves between the past and present, The Storm King by Brendan Duffy is an atmospheric  mystery that is full of secrets and revenge.

As a teenager, Nate McHale is the lone survivor of a car accident that killed his parents and younger brother. Raised by his beloved Grams, Nate and his close friends, Tommy Buck, Johnny Vanhouten and Owen Liffey set out to extract vengeance against the people they perceive have wronged them. These “Thunder Runs” occur during storms and they run the gamut from subtle to overt vandalism against a number of residents in their small town.  With their high school graduation marking the end of their reign of terror,  Nate leaves for college and never returns to Greystone Lake following a devastating loss.

In the present, Nate is happily married with a daughter and he has a successful career as a surgeon. Following the stunning discovery of skeletonized remains, Nate returns to his hometown to attend the funeral and quickly learns that his grandmother and his friends are being targeted by vandals. Taken in for questioning about the recovered bones, Nate stumbles onto an astonishing trove of information that he uses to investigate incidents in the present and a heartbreaking loss in his past.

With the flashbacks of Nate’s teen years, a shocking portrait of Nate begins to emerge. He and his friends are relentless in their zest for revenge and their pranks are incredibly destructive. It is difficult to feel much sympathy for Nate as the depths of his rage and sly manipulation of his friends are exposed. When the object of his wrath changes focus, he and his friends ensure that anyone who slights them is punished for their “misdeed”.  The teens act as judge and judge and they do not hesitate to carry out the sentences they impose on their victims.

Upon his return for the funeral,  Nate is somewhat surprised by the changes time has wrought upon his friends. He is also uneasy with questions the police chief asks him during an antagonistic interrogation.  After he unearths  the astounding compilation of data about the graduation night disappearance of someone very dear to him, Nate thinks he knows who is behind the vandalism and why. He is also certain he knows who is responsible for the tragedy that occurred on graduation night but his efforts to investigate are hampered by the worsening hurricane.  Will he uncover the truth before it is too late?  Will Nate unmask a dark and twisted killer before they strike again?

The Storm King is an engrossing mystery that keeps the pages turning at a blistering pace. Nate is an extremely intriguing character that initially is not easy to like, but gradually becomes a protagonist that readers will root for as he searches for the truth. With the hurricane approaching, the storyline takes on a high degree of urgency as all of the pieces finally begin falling into place. Although readers will most likely be able to accurately narrow down the suspect pool to a handful of likely culprits, Brendan Duffy masterfully keeps the perpetrator’s identity tightly under wraps until the adrenaline-laced denouement.

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Filed under Ballantine Books, Brendan Duffy, Contemporary, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Storm King

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