When experienced homicide detective Casey Duncan first moved to the secret town of Rockton, she expected a safe haven for people like her, people running from their past misdeeds and past lives. She knew living in Rockton meant living off-the-grid completely: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. What she didn’t expect is that Rockton comes with its own set of secrets and dangers.
Now, in A Darkness Absolute, Casey and her fellow Rockton sheriff’s deputy Will chase a cabin-fevered resident into the woods, where they are stranded in a blizzard. Taking shelter in a cave, they discover a former resident who’s been held captive for over a year. When the bodies of two other women turn up, Casey and her colleagues must find out if it’s an outsider behind the killings or if the answer is more complicated than that...before another victim goes missing.
Casey Duncan returns in another heart-racing thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong.
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A Darkness Absolute
By Kelley Armstrong
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2017 KLA Fricke Inc.
All rights reserved.
We've been tracking Shawn Sutherland for almost two hours when the blizzard strikes. That's the common phrasing. A storm hits. A blizzard strikes. Like a left hook out of nowhere. Except that's not how it usually happens. There's always warning. The wind picks up. The sky darkens. At the very least, you sense a weight in the air. When the snow starts, you might curse at the suddenness of it, but you know it wasn't sudden at all.
This blizzard is different. Deputy Will Anders and I are roaring along on our snowmobiles, following a clear set of footprints in newly fallen snow. I'm glad Sutherland's prints are obvious, because it's such a gorgeous day, I struggle to focus on my task. The sun glitters off snow and ice as I whip along, taking my corners a little too tight, playing with the machine, enjoying the ride on what has become a rather routine task.
Rockton is a secret off-the-grid town, a safe haven for people in hiding. If a resident keeps his head down and doesn't cause trouble, we don't notice him. Until last month, that was Sutherland. Then the first snow came, and he snapped, declaring that he wasn't spending another winter in this town. He's run twice since then. Our boss — Sheriff Eric Dalton — warned Sutherland that if it happened again, he would spend the winter in the jail cell instead. Protecting citizens is our responsibility, even when it means protecting them from themselves.
Yesterday, Dalton flew to Dawson City on a supply run and, yep, Sutherland bolted again. But he's too afraid of the forest to actually leave the path, which makes him very easy to track after a light snowfall. Hell, I'd have taken the horses instead if Dalton wasn't due back before nightfall; I need Sutherland caught by then. Given that the sun starts setting midafternoon, we don't have much time.
We're ripping along when I catch sight of a dark shape ahead. Anders doesn't see it — he's gawking at something to the left, and I flip up my visor to shout at him. Then I see what he does: a wall of white. It's on us before I can react, a cyclone of driving snow and roaring wind, and I hit the brakes so hard my ass shoots off the seat and nearly sends me face-first through the windshield.
The sled's back slides — right into a tree. I curse, but on a path this narrow, striking a tree is damn near inevitable. I'm just lucky I wasn't the one hitting it.
I hear Dalton's voice in my head. Stay on the sled. Get your bearings first.
When I lift my leg over the seat, I hear him say, Stay on the sled, Butler. I ignore him and twist to look around.
White. That's all I see. Blinking against the prickle of ice pellets, I close my visor. Even with it shut, I hear the howl of the wind, an enraged beast battering at me.
I slit my eyes, turn my face from the wind, open my visor, and shout "Will!" but the storm devours my words. When I open my mouth to yell again, the wind whips rock-hard ice pellets into my face, and I slap the visor shut.
The first lick of panic darts through me, some primal voice screaming that I'm blinded and deafened, and if I don't move, don't do something, I'll die in this wasteland, buried under ice and snow.
And that's exactly the kinda thinking that'll get you killed, Casey.
Dalton's voice in my head again, a laconic drawl this time. He switches to my given name as his temper subsides, knowing all I need is a little bit of guidance from the guy who's spent every winter of his life in this forest.
I take a deep breath and then try the radio. Yes, that should have been the obvious first response, but four months up here has taught me that our radios are about as reliable as the toy versions I used as a kid. The second I pull off my helmet, the driving snow has me closing my eyes, hunkering down, and blindly raising the receiver to my ear.
"Butler to base," I say. "Anyone there?"
"Anders?" I say. "Will? You copy?"
I'm not surprised when silence answers. Unless his helmet is off, he won't hear his radio.
I squint in front of me, where he'd been only minutes ago.
He's there. He must be. I just can't see through this damn snow.
The howl of the wind responds.
I put my helmet back on and push the ignition button. As soon as the engine fires up, I know that's the wrong move. Anders was in front of me. I risk bashing into his sled. Or into him.
Dalton would tell me to stay on the sled. But if Anders is doing the same thing, maybe five feet away, we'll freeze to death out here.
Which is why I told you not to go chasing Sutherland. Maybe if he loses a few fingers to frostbite, that'll teach him.
Okay, so I screwed up. Live and learn. But I need to do something, because there's no way in hell I can sit tight and pray this blizzard ends before I die of exposure.
Hanging on to the handlebars, I pry my ass off the snowmobile, fighting a wind that wants to knock me into the nearest tree. My snowmobile suit billows, and threatens to send me airborne. The snowsuit is militia gear, meant for guys twice my weight.
I fight my way off the sled. Gripping the seat back with one glove, I open the saddlebags and root around until I find the rope. Then I remove my gloves, and the moment I do, I can't feel my fingers and panic starts anew, every cold-weather warning about exposed skin racing back and —
As long as it's snowing, it's not actually that cold.
Dalton's voice rattles off statistics about northern temperatures and windchill and snowfall. I manage to tie the rope on the seat back. I stop to rub my hands briskly before double-checking the knot. Then, gloves on, I set out, hunched and hanging on to the rope, my oversized snowsuit snapping around me like a sail. A gust whips down from the treetops and the next thing I know, I'm flat on my back, staring into swirling white as I struggle to catch my breath.
Up, Butler. This isn't the time for snow angels.
I flash Dalton a mental middle finger and roll onto my stomach. Then I crawl, my head down against the gale.
They did not prepare me for this in police college.
Yeah, yeah. Move your ass.
I'm a homicide detective, not a tracking hound.
Well, then, maybe you shouldn't have tried tracking him.
I grumble and keep inching along as the rope plays out behind me. I spot an elongated dark shape ahead. Anders's snowmobile. I pick up my pace, and as if in answer, the gale picks up too, snow beating from every direction. I grit my teeth and keep going, focused on that dark shape even as snow piles on my visor. Finally I'm there and I reach out and —
Something grabs my hand. Grabs and yanks, and I fall with a yelp. I look up, ready to give Anders shit, but when I wipe my visor, all I see is the dark shape of his sled.
The wind dies, just for a second, and I hear a whining. The wind? I spot something whizzing past right in front of me, and it takes a moment to realize I'm seeing the snowmobile track running. The sled is on its side. The track is what "grabbed" my hand — I'd reached out and touched it.
Sled. On its side. Still running.
I struggle to my feet and yank open my visor, yelling, "Will!" as I stumble forward. I grab the nearest part of the sled that isn't the running track belt and fight that wind to get around the snowmobile. That's when I see the windshield. The broken windshield. And I see the tree that the sled almost skimmed past, the left side hitting just hard enough to stop the snowmobile dead, and Anders ... Anders did not stop.
There was a six foot two, brawny man riding that snowmobile, without any restraints, and when it hit the tree, the force flung him through that windshield into the endless white beyond.CHAPTER 2
I stumble forward, following the trajectory from the sled, trying to run, which only makes it worse. I'm staggering, and I can't see a damned thing, and then I pitch forward, tripping on what I think is a branch or a root, and I go down, sprawled over Anders's leg.
When I look again, all I see is that one dark spot, where I tripped over his leg. Otherwise, he's covered in snow. Buried in it.
I find him and feel my way up until I'm at his helmet. He's facedown, the helmet neck opening and vents snow-covered. I clear them fast and then check the pulse in his neck. It's beating strongly, which only means his heart is pumping. Only means he's alive.
I grew up in a family of doctors, and I know I shouldn't just flip Anders onto his back, but right now making sure he's breathing is the important thing. I still try to do this with him prone. I shift position, and my shoulder hits something hard. I reach out to feel a tree. Which he'd hit. Headfirst.
Shit, shit, shit!
I awkwardly tie the rope around my foot, so I don't lose my way. Then, equally awkwardly, I dig under his helmet, my gloves off, to unhook his chin strap —
Anders jumps as my ice-cold fingers touch his bare throat. He flails and then scrambles to sit up, sees me, and blinks.
"Hold still," I say as he removes his helmet. "You hit your head." I take his chin in my hand, apologizing for my cold fingers, and check his pupils. They look normal. I examine his head next, which should be easy enough — he wears his hair buzz-cut short, as if he's still in the army — but dark hair over an equally dark scalp makes looking for blood and cuts a whole lot tougher. I don't feel any, though.
"You seem okay. I'm just worried about —"
"Intercranial injury. Yeah. Well, I'm conscious. I can recite the Pledge of Allegiance if you like."
"That would require me knowing the Pledge of Allegiance."
He chuckles. "Yeah. How about Hamlet's soliloquy." He runs through it.
"Not really, considering I had to say it every night for two weeks in my junior year. Which was ..." He looks up as he thinks. "June 1994. Proving I can access personal memories, too. How do my pupils look?" "Same size and not dilated."
"I should be fine, then."
Anders was pre-med when he decided to serve his country. The US Army had started training him as a medic before they both realized he was better suited to military policing.
The wind has died down again, falling snow entombing us in white. I retrieve the first-aid kit and a flashlight from Anders's saddlebags. I shine the light up and down his snowsuit, looking for rips or tears, any sign of injury.
"How fast were you going?" I ask.
"I hit the brakes as soon as the snow blew in. Hit them too fast. Lost control. Skidded. Sudden stop, and I went flying. I wasn't going more than few miles an hour by then. Just enough to send me through the damn windshield."
He rubs the back of his neck. "I'm going to be sore as hell in the morning, but it wasn't a high-speed impact."
I nod. That's the biggest concern — he could have done serious damage to his spine.
He rolls his shoulders and moves his back, testing. "I should be good to go. How far are we from town?"
"About five clicks."
Under normal conditions, that's a couple hours' walk along the winding path. With a storm, it'll be several times that.
I check my watch. "We've got less than two hours of daylight left. If you call this daylight." I wave at the steady snowfall, the sky beyond already gray. "I'm going to say we collect our stuff from the saddlebags and find shelter for the night."
"Yeah. Eric'll be pissed, but it's not like he'll be flying home in this. With any luck, he won't be able to radio in either."
"We'll start out at daybreak. Which means about, what, ten in the morning?"
A wry smile. "Welcome to the north. Okay. Let's see if I can stand."
I take his hand, and he's shaking his head, mouth opening to tell me that helping him up isn't a wise idea. I place his hand on a tree instead — it can support his weight. He chuckles, and he's carefully rising when I say, "Down!" pushing him to the ground as I cover him, my gun drawn.
"What the —?"
I clap a hand over his mouth and gesture with my chin. There's a figure on the path, appearing from nowhere, just like the one I saw before the storm hit. When Anders sees, I move off him and he flips over, his gun out, gaze fixed on the figure.
The falling snow is a shimmering veil between us, blurring everything more than an arm's length away. I'm presuming the figure is a man, given the size, but I'm on my stomach, and it's at least twenty feet away, and all I can say for sure is it's standing on two legs.
"Shawn?" I call. With the wind dropped, my voice carries easily. The figure doesn't move. "Sutherland?"
"Shawn!" Anders snaps with the bark of a soldier, nothing like his usual laid-back tone. Every time I hear it, I jump. He gives a soft chuckle.
The figure doesn't move. I can't see a face, but I can tell he's wearing a snowsuit not unlike ours — a bulky one-piece, dark from head to toe. According to the guy who saw Sutherland run, he was dressed in hiking boots, jeans, a ski jacket, and Calgary Flames toque. I whisper this to Anders before I shout, "Jacob? Is that you?" Dalton's younger brother lives in these woods.
"Jacob?" I call again, and Anders stays quiet, knowing a shout from him would send Jacob running.
"Jacob?" I say. "If that's you, we've had an accident. We're fine, but we can't get back to town in this weather. We need to find shelter. Do you know of anyplace nearby?"
When he doesn't respond, I know it's not him. As shy as Jacob is, he knows I'm important to his brother, and he'd help me.
This might be a hostile. There are two kinds of former residents out here, residents who left to live in the forest. Some we call settlers, which is what Dalton's parents were, people who moved into these Yukon woods to live off the land. They stay out of our way, like Jacob does. Then there are the hostiles, those who went out there, snapped, and have become the most dangerous "animals" in these woods.
"Hey!" I call. "You know I'm talking to you. Maybe you can't see through this snow, but I can see enough to know you're not holding a gun on me. There are two trained on you, though. If you think we're easy prey, just raise your hand, and I'll be happy to demonstrate my marksmanship."
"That means she'll put a bullet through your damn shoulder," Anders calls, giving me a look that says I might need to take the diction down a notch. "That'll be the first bullet. Her warning shot. I don't give warning shots. I'm not good enough for that. Mine goes through your chest."
Which is bullshit, on both counts. He's a better marksman and more likely to aim a nonfatal shot. But he's also the big guy with the booming voice, which makes him a helluva lot more intimidating than me.
The figure takes a lumbering step forward. It's more of a shamble than a walk, and seeing that, an image flashes in my mind. Before I can speak, Anders whispers, "Are we sure that's a man, Case?"
No, we are not. The memory that flashed is of a walk with Dalton after a particularly rough day. There may also have been a bottle of tequila involved, and some hide-and-seek, the sun falling as we goofed off, me darting around a tree fall ... and startling a grizzly pawing apart the dead timber for grubs.
I've faced armed gunmen and not been as terrified as I was when that beast reared up, all seven feet and seven hundred pounds of him. Now I look at this figure through the snow veil. It's a tall, broad shape on two legs. Dark from head to toe. Taking another lumbering step toward us.
I hear Dalton again, from that evening in the woods.
Don't move. Just stay where you are.
My first instinct is to shout, as it was back then. But I'd had the sense to whisper the idea to Dalton before I did.
It's not a black bear. Make a lot of noise, and you'll only antagonize it. Speak calmly and firmly so it realizes you are human.
I do that now, but I stay stock-still. Anders does the same, both of us straining to see, but the thing is only a dark shape against a quickly darkening backdrop.
Just don't move, Casey. You're fine. I've got my gun out. Perfect trajectory to the snout. That's where you want to hit if you have to shoot.
Dalton couldn't help turning even a stare-down with a grizzly into a teaching moment. But the reality was that he'd been calming me. A grizzly bear less than a meter away? No big deal. Let's take what we can from this. He'd also been calming himself, the strain clear in his voice. Now, remembering his words, I adjust the angle of my gun, whispering to Anders, "I'll go for the upper chest. You take the head. Just wait until we can see it. We have to be sure."
He nods, but my warning is more for me than him. Stay calm. Be certain before I pull the trigger. My gun isn't meant for shooting bears — I don't haul around a .45.
But you know what's even better than shooting? That canister in your pocket. Pull it out as slowly as you can — no sudden moves.
Excerpted from A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong. Copyright © 2017 KLA Fricke Inc.. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Really enjoyed this book. There are some really twisted minded people in this town. It kept me guessing & reading. Worth the money. Can't wait for another in this series.
I love mysteries. More than that, I like mysteries that I can solve in the first few chapters. However, mysteries that hold until the end are the best and this fits the bill! I have loved everything Kelley Armstrong has written, and this is no exception. Great read!!
Great story, yet again!
Need more Casey Duncan! Hopefully there is a 3rd book.... this was really hard to put down!
Ok book. I have a phobia of narrow places, so that did not help.
Great 2nd novel in series
What makes a person good or evil? Rockton and its residents show both traits. Casey relies on Mathias and his insight on individual motivations to capture the kidnapper. Can't wait to read the next one.
Rockton is a rumor. A maybe place if you are in trouble. If you are in deep trouble but lucky, you find it is more than a rumor, that it is a small town totally off the grid in the harsh environs of the Yukon. A town originally meant for someone fleeing an abusive spouse, a stalker, someone wrongly accused or convicted of a non-violent crime. Later Rockton changes, with maybe a hit man, murderer, or a sex offender; but always someone who pays very well inserted into town and past Sheriff Eric Dalton and his small department. But eventually Dalton will find out the true crime behind the false entry crime. Eric is a dictator, answering only to the off-site council. He has to be to keep the residents safe. If you go into the forest you are put on wood chopping detail. If you go stir crazy and run, you are hunted down and returned. It's too dangerous in the forest. There are settlers, mostly former residents or their descendants who live even more off the grid and are neither friendly nor welcoming. Then there are the hostiles. Considered to be more animal than human, no one knows what they really are. But most of all the forest itself is dangerous. Not trying to kill you, just not caring about you. While Eric has flown south on a supply run, one of the residents makes a run for it. Detective Casey Duncan and Deputy Will Anders decide to go after him. After a blizzard hits, they take shelter in a cave where they make the nightmarish yet welcome discovery of a young woman who has spent the last year as a prisoner in a hole in the cave. This woman had been termed a runner. After an extensive search and with convincing evidence of her death turning up, the woman had been declared dead. The remains of found of two more women missing from years ago are found and Rockton is turned upside down with fear. Tentative contacts with wary settlers, harsh weather, and an outside ruling council hinder investigations. No one can face the idea of contact with a hostile. Except for a resident who would like one "to study". Once again I was sucked into this lost town although I might not want to move to Rockton as I wish to do with Louise Penny's Three Pines. Armstrong has created a world that is both compelling and unsettling. The characters, including the minor characters are fascinating, each with their own story to hide. The romance between Eric and Casey is sweet, watching two loners navigate the perils of a true relationship. This is a stellar follow up to City of the Lost. It will be a long wait until the third book comes out. 17 likes
Holy moly! I didn’t think it could get any better. This book is a littler darker than the first but a heck of a read. The author had me chasing my tail trying to figure out who done it. We learn a whole lot more about the residents of Rockton and more about the town itself. If you want an exciting read check out this series.
This second novel in the Casey Duncan series is even more addictive than the first. A Darkness Absolute melds mystery with the paranormal. Even though there aren’t any vampires or werewolves, Rockton is filled with boogeymen. Casey, settled into her role of Detective and happy in her new relationship with Eric Dalton is blindsided when she and another officer on the force find a woman who had been held captive in a cave for over a year. To top it off, she was a resident of Rockton that they had believed perished in the woods. It’s Casey’s job to find out whether the kidnapper was a resident of Rockton or one of the settlers in the surrounding land. Kelley Armstrong has a deft hand at pretty much any genre, but I am discovering that I love her rather creepy mystery novels. The fact that Rockton is a town filled with people who are running away from something, either as victims or as the perpetrators of a crime, is the perfect premise for the macabre. Even the people who are friendly need to be looked at, since everyone’s past casts a dim light on their character. Casey and Eric’s relationship takes a step to the next level with Eric showing signs of possessiveness and insecurity. It’s nice to see the male in a relationship really caring about the outcome of his actions. I’m digging these two as a couple! For those of you who love mysteries, you need to read this series! A Darkness Absolute was gripping, the mystery totally surprising, and the characterizations of the inhabitants of Rockton like looking at a petry dish through a a smudged magnifying glass. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❣️
I picked up this series because I like Kelley Armstrong's other books, and this definitely doesn't disappoint. It may not be paranormal, but it definitely keeps you on the edge of your seat. The setting is out of my comfort zone, I'm not a big fan of survival-type stories. But the characters are so good and the mysteries grab your attention. I couldn't put it down. Can't wait for the next one!
loving this series
Kelley Armstrong delivered another fantastic series, Casey Duncan gives the reader a thriller mystery that leaves the reader wanting to know more of Casey Duncan’s life in the Lost City. It does make me wonder how many crazy people are in this town of 200. Thanks, Ms. Armstrong for giving me an irrational fear of the crazies in the wood. I am definitely staying out of the woods, so there went my husband’s dreams of ice road trucking, never moving to the boonies. This series is amazing just like all of Armstrong’s other series. A fantastic storyteller with amazing writing skills and a great imagination.
Just started this author with this series. I really like it. Hope it continues. Going to begin one of her other series. Good writer and im looking forward to her other books. Kat
Characters are odd and disturbing in nature. Casey is a kickass detective! Great book can't wait for the next one!
I enjoyed this one a lot. It started with a bang and maintained a high level of excitement throughout the story. This is the second book in the Casey Duncan series and I do recommend reading them in order since the events of the first book do play a role in this installment. This book really kept me guessing right up until the very end. I had a lot of fun reading this story and found that I never wanted to put it down. I love the setting of this story because it is so different than the average mystery. Rockton is such an interesting little town. The residents of Rockton are such interesting characters and each one really adds something to the story. I like the fact that everyone has their own story and it is usually different that what you would expect. The little group of misfits that call Rockton home have really come together to form a community and it adds a nice tone to the story. Casey and Will find a woman being held captive in a hole inside a cave as they take shelter during a snowstorm. They are able to save the woman but the identity of her abductor remains a mystery. Saving the woman is just the start of a very involved case that will put Casey and others in danger before everything is over. The characters in this book were great. Casey is very smart and has really committed herself to the town. She is really starting to believe that she belongs and wants to keep everyone safe. Dalton is dealing with his feelings towards Casey in addition to keeping the town's residents secure. Being in a relationship is rather new for Dalton and he is still trying to figure things out. I really like Casey and Dalton as as couple and I do appreciate the fact that their relationship does not overpower the mystery element of the story. I would recommend this book to fans of mystery thrillers. This story contains a complex mystery that had me turning pages as fast as I could. There are quite a few twists and turns to keep things really interesting. I can't wait to read more of this exciting series. I received an advance reader edition of this book from St. Martin's Press - Minotaur Books via NetGalley.
A Darkness Absolute is the second book in Kelley Armstrong's Casey Duncan series. I devoured the first book, City of the Lost, and have been eagerly awaiting this next entry. Casey Duncan was a homicide detective 'down south'. She also killed a man before she became a cop. But the past caught up with her. So, she and her friend Diana, headed for an off the grid town called Rockton, deep in the wilds of the Canadian north. Rockton doesn't exist on a map and everyone in town is running from something or someone. Casey is admitted to town based on her profession - and she's now Rockton's detective. The first book laid the groundwork for the series, introduced us to the town and had a darn good mystery included. And, yes some romance - with the town sheriff. In a Darkness Absolute, Casey and her deputy Will, storm stayed outside the town's borders, take refuge in a cave. It is there that they find a former town resident held captive for more than a year. So..... a detective in a hidden town that doesn't exist on any map and populated by criminals and those looking to disappear. Well, that makes for a wealth of suspects, doesn't it? The search to find the perpetrator is a page turner. I love the voice Armstrong has given Casey. She's intuitive and clever. The supporting cast is wide and varied, all hiding secrets. Casey has her work cut out, trying to ferret out the truth. Armstrong's setting is fascinating. There very easily could be a hidden settlement in the north. But what's outside those town boundaries is just as intriguing. There are those living even more 'lost' than the townsfolk of Rockton. Armstrong is slowly giving us glances at these people. Solving the case is full of twists, turns and lots of action. Lies and false leads keep the reader guessing until the final pages. And although the end is satisfying.....I want more.....I can't wait 'til book number three is released!
Pulls you in from chapter 1. Holds you by the throar until the lasr words on the last page.
I really enjoyed the second installment in the Rockton series, and I look forward to the next book.
When experienced homicide detective Casey Duncan first moved to the secret town of Rockton, she expected a safe haven for people like her, people running from their past misdeeds and past lives. She knew living in Rockton meant living off-the-grid completely: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. What she didn’t expect is that Rockton comes with its own set of secrets and dangers. Now, in A Darkness Absolute, Casey and her fellow Rockton sheriff’s deputy Will chase a cabin-fevered resident into the woods, where they are stranded in a blizzard. Taking shelter in a cave, they discover a former resident who’s been held captive for over a year. When the bodies of two other women turn up, Casey and her colleagues must find out if it’s an outsider behind the killings or if the answer is more complicated than that...before another victim goes missing. Casey Duncan returns in another heart-racing thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong. Review: I LOVED this story! I LOVE Kelley Armstrong, so it is not a big stretch that I would love a book of hers. This book is dark, intense and you are not sure who is telling the truth or who can be trusted. I was so engaged in this that I did not set it down and finished it in one day. I love the whole premise of this series too. A town where you can buy your way in and escape from those out to hurt you or crimes you committed. In the middle of nowhere and off-the-grid, the people are isolated and in the middle of winter are susceptible to others. It is very atmospheric in feel, with the isolation and snow storms. It felt sort of like The Shining, with way more people, if that makes any sense to anyone but me. Heck, I did not know who could be the killer/kidnapper in this one a Rockton resident, a settler, a hostile...there was twists after twists to keep you guessing. Another thing I love is Casey, she is wicked smart and kicks butt. Ms. Armstrong know how to make strong, great female characters. I loved this installment and cannot wait for more of Casey and Rockton!!!! 5Stars *I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book provided by the publisher.*
I loved this book. I know it was the second in the series. It did refer to the first book in the series which did not keep me from reading this one. However, I still don't know some of the friction or other events that the second one referred to. So that just makes me want to read the first one. This book dealt with a out of the way town that no one knows about. You have to be invited to live in this town (Rockton). It's a town where abused women, witness protection people, white color crime people, or people that pay a lot that have people looking for them come to live. There is one sheriff and two deputies. There are no doctors. However there is a person trained as an army medic, one trained in EMT services, a psychiatrist and a person trained to look at criminal behavior. There is also a bar owner/madam and a butcher. Everyone has a job. There is no need for money as everyone is paid and uses credits or rations. Out of town, there is like 2000 acres of wilderness. There are several settlements, but they are not sanctioned. The people who live there are people who did not like living with rules in Rockton and left the town to start out on their own. There are also people who don't live in a settlement who are on their own. In this book, the two deputies go looking for a man who has left town without permission. During their search, a huge winter storm comes upon them all of a sudden and they have to look for a place to ride it out. They find a cave and while there, they discover a woman who they thought died over a year ago. She is deep in a hole in the cave where she has been held hostage the whole time. That means someone out there or someone in town has captured her and done this to her. I really got into this book. I loved the characters and how they all looked out for each other, well most of them. There is one character who is a royal beatch who has nothing but insults for everyone. She doesn't discriminate. But for the most part, people are nice. It's amazing how they have to live. They have no electricity, no fancy gadgets and hardly no outside intervention. It's kind of like an apocalypse book as they are almost the only people around. I can't wait for the next book in this series. And this book isn't even out yet. Ugh!! Huge thanks to St. Martin's Press for approving my request and to Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.
Casey and Eric are living in the remote town of Rockton. They make up the law enforcement team in a town full of residents who are not who they say they are and are all hiding their pasts. This is the second in the Casey Duncan series; the first being the City of the Lost Thriller. Reading these in order will make for better continuity. Armstrong mysteries are always full of twists and turns along with fully developed characters. Challenge for Detective Casey is sorting out who is responsible for murders and disappearances when no one can be trusted. Love the bit of romance between Casey and Eric. Publisher gifted a complimentary copy via Netgalley.