Growing up in a small town often requires a sacrifice as you get out of school. You can move away and look for work in the wide world, or stay and take what comes your way. It’s the curse of small town that many who grow up in that type of world must face. The really interesting fact is that often after you leave all you want to do is get back to that town. This urge to return home is what finds the main character in the book Thunder Bay by Robert Reynolds home and living a peaceful retirement.
Thunder Bay opens with a forward explaining that there is a town of the same name in Michigan and Canada. The story does take place primarily in Michigan but does make use of the Canadian setting. The forward continues to explain the setting of the book including the Mackinac Straits and the dangers that loom for ships in that area. Often when people think of dangerous shipping in Michigan its Lake Superior, much to the thanks of the song Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The straits can be just as deadly as the forward states.
The book opens with what can only be described as a very tranquil opening with a man out painting Lake Huron when it’s broken by the sound of a Cessna. The plane is making an approach to Thunder Bay and Ray Winters realizes he must pack up his artwork or it is going to get ruined. The oncoming plane appears to be followed by an impending rain fall and if Ray isn’t fast his days work will get wet ruined.
This is the reader’s introduction to Ray who is the main character within the pages of the book Thunder Bay. He has retired back to his home town and had lost his wife not too long ago. He is a retired Chemical Weapons expert who will do freelance work at times but is enjoying being home again. He like many had left the town to see what the great big world would offer him.
As the book will tell the reader as the storm moves in on Lake Huron there is a boat out in the weather. The boat is not in the greatest of shape but the captain is hoping to make an easy buck with this trip and his passengers. He does not know who they are and is suspicious of the men but he is being well paid to make the trip. The men are not the only cargo as the men carry a cylinder that will get Ray slightly involved in the mystery as the book progresses.
Thunder Bay is a book that has a large amount of focus on the area in which the book gets its title from. Those who are familiar with the area will get satisfaction from hearing the mention of the local landmarks. You will also get a sense of what it is like to live through the harsh winter during part of the book. There is also mention of things on the Canadian side as the book does have police involved on both sides of the natural border.
The main thing with this book is that it is not just a thriller and chase to find what is going on with the cylinder. The book does make use of that factor and we find there is a potential evil plot going on in the back drop of the story. The other piece is how Ray finds his high school sweetheart back in town and like him, Millie Tremaine is also single. This ties together the elements of a disappearing boat and a love story in the idyllic setting.
There are many other characters that will bring color to the story from a bar owner, to the wife of the boats captain. There are the locals such as an older Native American gentleman to a Michigan State Police officer that also are enjoyable. Thunder Bay is a great read and does not truly get stuck in one of its plots for an unneeded period of time, but keeps the reader engaged till the end.