by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Casey Duncan #1
Genres: Suspense thriller
Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows that someday this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.
Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want: She's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.
City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong is the first in the Casey Duncan series and delivered a quirky, intense, mystery suspense, thriller with a touch of romance. Come to Rockton, an off the grid community in the wilds of Canada where murder and things that go thump in the night will keep you flipping the pages.
I am coming to appreciate Armstrong’s gift for story-telling. Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a dark secret. When her friend’s ex-begins stalking her again, and Casey’s past meets her present, the two relocate with the help of a contact to the remote town of Rockton. The community is rustic, and the residents are all hiding from their pasts. Casey joins the local law, as a detective under Sheriff Eric Dalton and begins working the murder mysteries. Things get complicated as bodies pile up and Casey gets the lay of the land so to speak.
The worldbuilding was brilliant, providing readers with just enough information to visualize Rockton and the surrounding landscape. There are no cell phones, electric or computers. Rockton is wholly cut off from the outside world with its own currency. No one can get in or out without the help of the council. The “council” is a secretive (faceless) group who have control over the town. Sounds like a government experiment right? The town is full of dysfunctional folks, most for safety reasons but we quickly learn that politics and money sway the council. For every detail, we learn new questions arise.
Armstrong does an excellent job of delivering characters that allow the readers to become emotionally connected. Some you admire and others you will loathe. I like Casey. She is a tough, somewhat jaded heroine who is a damn fine investigator. Sheriff Eric Dalton seems cold at first, and the man can be gruff, but we quickly learn his story, and I enjoyed the interaction between Eric and Casey. Secondary characters, suspects and others added depth and kept the pacing tight.
The story has some dark elements from rogues in the woods to mutilated bodies. I loved this darker thread. When you add in the town, council, and residents you get a creepy vibe. We are treated to a romantic thread that moves from trust and respect to something unexpected. It felt genuine from wicked banter, to shared interests. While I don’t necessarily need a romance, this thread was useful in making the characters, and their circumstances feel realistic.
City of the Lost is a genre-bender, part mystery, part romantic suspense and equal parts thriller and horror. We get a conclusion to the current murder-mystery, but other loose threads have me reaching for A Darkness Absolute. The third book, This Fallen Prey releases in February 2018.City of the Lost, is a genre-bender, part mystery, part romantic suspense and equal parts thriller and horror Click To Tweet
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