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.
An edgy, gripping crime novel from bestselling urban fantasy writer Kelley Armstrong, City of the Lost boldly announces a major new player in the crime fiction world.
About the Author
KELLEY ARMSTRONG graduated with a degree in psychology and then studied computer programming. Now she is a full-time writer and parent, and she lives with her husband and three children in rural Ontario, Canada. She is the author of City of the Lost, the first book in the Casey Duncan mystery series.
Read an Excerpt
City of the Lost
By Kelley Armstrong
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 KLA Fricke Inc.
All rights reserved.
"I killed a man," I say to my new therapist.
I've barely settled onto the couch ... which isn't a couch at all, but a chaise lounge that looked inviting and proved horribly uncomfortable. Like therapy itself.
I've caught her off guard with that opening line, but I've been through this before with other therapists. Five, to be exact. Each time, the gap between "hello" and "I'm a murderer" decreases. By this point, she should be glad I'm still bothering with a greeting. Therapists do charge by the hour.
"You ...," she says, "killed a man?"
The apprehensive look. I know it well — that moment when they're certain they've misheard. Or that I mean it in a metaphorical way. I broke a man's heart. Which is technically true. A bullet does break a heart. Irrevocably, it seems.
When I only nod, she asks, "When did this happen?"
"Twelve years ago."
Expression number two. Relief. At least I haven't just killed a man. That would be so much more troublesome.
Then comes the third look, as she searches my face with dawning realization.
"You must have been young," she says. "A teenager?"
"Ah." She settles back in her chair, the relief stronger now, mingling with satisfaction that she's solved the puzzle. "An accident of some kind?"
She's blunt. Others have led me in circles around the conclusion they've drawn. You didn't really murder a man. It was a car accident or other youthful mishap, and now you torture yourself with guilt.
"No, I did it on purpose. That is, pulling the trigger was intentional. I didn't go there planning to kill him. Manslaughter, not homicide. A good lawyer could argue for imperfect self-defense and get the sentence down to about twelve years."
She pulls back. "You've researched this. The crime. The sentence."
"It's my job."
"Because you feel guilty."
"No, it's my job. I'm a cop."
Her mouth forms an O of surprise, and her fingernails tap my file folder as she makes mental excuses for not reading it more thoroughly. Then her mouth opens again. The barest flicker of a smile follows.
"You're a police officer," she says. "You shot someone in the line — No, you were too young. A cadet?"
"Yes, but it wasn't a training accident." I settle on the chaise. "How about I just tell you the story?"
An obvious solution, but therapists never suggest it. Some, like this one, actually hesitate when I offer. She fears I'm guilty and doesn't want me to be. Give her a few more clues, and she'll find a way to absolve me.
Except I don't want absolution. I just want to tell my story. Because this is what I do. I play Russian roulette with Fate, knowing someday a therapist will break confidentiality and turn me in. It's like when I was a child, weighed down by guilt over some wrongdoing but fearing the punishment too much to confess outright. I'd drop clues, reasoning that if I was meant to be caught, those hints would chamber the round. Magical, childish thinking, but it's what I do.
"Can I begin?" I ask.
She nods with some reluctance and settles in.
"I'd gone to a bar that night with my boyfriend," I say. "It was supposed to be a date, but he spent the evening doing business in the back corner. That's what he called it. Doing business. Which sounds like he was dealing coke in some dive bar. We were actually in the university pub, him selling vitamin R and bennies to kids who wanted to make it through exam week...."CHAPTER 2
Blaine and I sat at a back table, side by side, waiting for customers. His fingers stroked the inside of my thigh. "Almost done. And then ..." He grinned over at me. "Pizza? Your place?"
"Only if we get enough for Diana."
He made a face. "It's Friday night, Casey. Shouldn't your roommate have a date or something?"
"Mmm, no. Sorry."
Actually, she was out with college friends. I just wasn't telling Blaine that. We hadn't had sex yet. I'd held him off by saying I was a virgin. That was a lie. I was just picky.
Blaine was my walk on the wild side. I was a police recruit playing bad girl. Which was as lame as his attempt to play drug lord. On a scale of bad boys, Blaine ranked about a two. Oh, sure, he claimed he was connected — his grandfather being some Montreal mobster whose name I couldn't even find with an Internet search. More likely the old guy played bookie at his seniors' home. Blaine's father certainly wasn't mobbed up — he was a pharmacist, which was how Blaine stole his stuff. Blaine himself was pre-med. He didn't even sample his merchandise. That night, he nursed one beer for two hours. Me? I drank Coke. Diet Coke. Yep, we were hard-core.
A last customer sidled over, a kid barely old enough to be in university. Blaine sold him the last of his stash. Then he gulped his beer, put his arm around my shoulders, and led me from the pub. I could roll my eyes at his swagger, but I found it oddly charming. While I might not have been ready to jump into bed with Blaine, I did like him. He was a messed-up rich kid; I could relate to that.
"Any chance of getting Diana out of your apartment?" he asked.
"Even if there is, the answer is no."
He only shrugged, with a smile that was half "I'll change your mind soon" and half genuine acceptance. Another reason why I wasn't ready to write him off as a failed dating experiment — he never pushed too hard, accepted my refusals with good-natured equanimity.
We started walking. I wasn't familiar with the campus area. I was attending the provincial police college outside the city and spending weekends with Diana, a high school friend who went to the local community college. Neither of us was from here. So when Blaine insisted that a dark alley was a shortcut to the pizza place, I didn't question it ... mostly because I was fine with what he had planned — a make-out pit stop designed to change my mind about getting Diana out of our apartment.
We were going at it hard and heavy when I heard the click of a gun. I gasped and pushed Blaine back. He looked up and jumped away, leaving me with a 9 mm pointed at my cheek.
"I only have fifty bucks," Blaine lied — the rest was stuffed in his sock. "She has some jewelry. Take that and the fifty —"
"Do we look like muggers, Saratori?"
As the gun lowered, I saw the guy holding it. Early twenties. Dark blond hair. Leather jacket. No obvious gang markings, but that's what this looked like: four young guys, one with a gun, three with knives.
I couldn't fight them — I didn't have a weapon, and martial arts doesn't work well against four armed attackers. Instead, I committed their faces to memory and noted distinguishing features for the police report.
"Does the old man know you're dealing?" the lead guy asked.
"I don't know what —" Blaine began.
"What I'm talking about? That you're Leo Saratori's grandkid? Or that you were dealing on our turf?"
Blaine bleated denials. One of the guys pinned him against the wall, while another patted him down. They took a small plastic bag with a few leftover pills from one sock and a wad of cash from the other.
"Okay," Blaine said. "So we're done now?"
"You think we want your money?" The leader bore down on him. "You're dealing on our turf, college boy. Considering who you are, I'm going to take this as a declaration of war."
"N-No. My grandfather doesn't —"
A clatter from the far end of the alley. Just a cat, leaping from a garbage bin, but it was enough to startle the guy with the gun. I lunged, caught him by the wrist and twisted, hearing the gun thump to the ground as I said, "Grab it!" and —
Blaine wasn't there to grab it. He was tearing down the alley. One of the other thugs was already scooping up the gun, and I was wrenching their leader's arm into a hold, but I knew it wouldn't do any good. The guy with the gun jabbed the barrel against my forehead and roared, "Stop!"
I didn't even have time to do that before the other two slammed me into the wall. The leader took back his gun and advanced on me.
"Seems we know who's got the balls in your relationship," he said. "The pretty little China doll. Your boyfriend's gone, sweetie. Left you to take his punishment." He looked me up and down. "A little too college-girl for my tastes, but I'm flexible."
I thought he was joking. Or bluffing. I knew my statistics. I faced more danger of sexual assault from an acquaintance or a boyfriend.
"Look," I said. "Whatever beef you have with Blaine, it has nothing to do with me. I've got twenty dollars in my wallet, and my necklace is gold. You can take —"
"We'll take whatever we want, sweetie."
I tugged my bag off my shoulder. "Okay, here's my purse. There's a cell phone —"
He stepped closer. "We'll take whatever we want."
His voice had hardened, but I still didn't think, I'm in danger. I knew how muggings worked. Just stay calm and hand over my belongings.
I held out my purse. He grabbed it by the strap and tossed it aside. Then he grabbed me, one hand going to my throat, the other to my breast, shoving me against the wall. There was a split second of shock as I hit the bricks hard. Then ...
I don't know what happened then. To this day, I cannot remember the thoughts that went through my brain. I don't think there were any. I felt his hands on my throat and on my breast, and I reacted.
My knee connected with his groin. I twisted toward the guy standing beside us. My fingers wrapped around his wrist. I grabbed his switchblade as it fell. I twisted again, my arm swinging down, and I stabbed the leader in the upper thigh as he was still falling back, moaning from the knee to his groin.
Afterward, I would piece it together and understand how it happened. How a response that seemed almost surreal was, in fact, very predictable. When the leader grabbed me with both hands, I knew he was no longer armed. So I reacted, if not with forethought, at least with foreknowledge.
Yet it was the lack of forethought that was my undoing. I had stabbed the leader ... and there were three other guys right there. One hit me in the gut. Another plowed his fist into my jaw. A third wrenched my arm so hard I screamed as my shoulder dislocated. He got the knife away from me easily after that. Someone kicked me in the back of the knees, and I went down. As soon as I did, boots slammed me from all sides, punctuated by grunts and curses of rage. I heard the leader say, "You think you're a tough little bitch? I'll show you tough." And then the beating began in earnest.
* * *
I awoke in a hospital four days later as my mother and the doctor discussed the possibility of pulling the plug. I'd like to believe that somewhere in that dark world of my battered brain, I heard them and came back, like a prizefighter rising as the ref counts down. But it was probably just coincidence.
I'd been found in that alley, left for dead, and rushed to the hospital, where I underwent emergency surgery to stop the internal bleeding. I had a dislocated shoulder. Five fractured ribs. Over a hundred stitches for various lacerations. A severe concussion and an intracranial hematoma. Compound fracture of the left radius. Severe fracture of the right tibia and fibula with permanent nerve damage. Also, possible rape.
I have recited that list to enough therapists that it has lost all emotional impact. Even the last part.
Possible rape. It sounds ludicrous. Either I was or I wasn't, right? Yet if it happened, I was unconscious. When I was found, my jeans were still on — or had been put back on. They did a rape kit, but it vanished before it could be processed.
Today, having spent two years as a detective in a big-city Special Victims Unit, I know you can make an educated guess without the kit. But I think when it disappeared, someone decided an answer wasn't necessary. If my attackers were found, they'd be charged with aggravated assault and attempted murder. Good enough. For them, at least.
As for my injuries, physically, I made a full recovery. It took eighteen months. I had to drop out of police college and give up the job waiting for me. As the victim of a serious crime, I was deemed no longer fit to serve and protect. I didn't accept that. I got a bachelor's degree in criminology, a black belt in aikido, and a flyweight championship in boxing. I aced the psych tests and, five years after the attack, I was hired and on the fast track to detective.
My parents had not been pleased. That was nothing new. When I'd first declared I wanted to be a police detective, their reaction had been pure horror. "You're better than that," they said. Smarter, they meant. Not geniuses, like them. While they considered my IQ of 135 perfectly adequate, it might require extra effort to become a cardiologist like my dad or chief of pediatric surgery like my mom or a neuroscientist like my sister. Still, they expected that I'd try. I wanted none of it. Never had.
After I had to leave police college, they'd been certain I'd give up this nonsense and devote myself to a meaningful career, preferably with a string of letters after my name. We argued. A lot. They died in a small plane crash four years ago, and we'd never truly mended that fence.
But back to the hospital. I spent six weeks there, learning to walk again, talk again, be Casey Duncan again. Except I never really was. Not the Casey Duncan I'd been. There are two halves of my life: before and after.
Four days in a coma. Six weeks in the hospital. Blaine never came to see me. Never even sent a card. I'd have ripped it to shreds, but at least it would have acknowledged what happened. He knew, of course. Diana had made sure of that, contacting him while I was in emergency. He hadn't asked how bad I was. Just mumbled something and hung up.
When I'd seen him run away in the alley, my outrage had been tempered by the certainty that he would get help. Even as the blows had started to fall, I'd clung to that. He must have called the police. He must have.
The last thing that passed through my mind before I lost consciousness was that I just had to hold on a little longer. Help was on the way. Only it wasn't. A homeless guy cutting through the alley stumbled across me, hours later. A stranger — a drunk stranger — had run to get help for me. My boyfriend had just run.
Blaine did need to speak to the police after I woke up and had told them what happened. But in Blaine's version, he'd created the distraction. I'd been escaping with him, and we'd parted at the street. The muggers must have caught up and dragged me back into that alley. If Blaine had known, he'd have done something. To suggest otherwise, well ... I'd suffered head trauma, hadn't I? Temporary brain damage? Loss of memory? Clearly, I'd misremembered.
I didn't call him when I got out of the hospital. That conversation had to happen in person. It took a week for me to get around to it, because there was something I needed to do first. Buy a gun.
* * *
Blaine's routine hadn't changed. He still went jogging before dawn. Or that was what he'd say if he was trying to impress a girl: I run in the park every morning at five. It wasn't completely untrue. He did go out before dawn. He did run in the park. Except he only did it on Fridays, and just to the place where he stashed his drugs. Then he'd run back to campus, where he could usually find a few buyers — kids who'd been out too late partying, heading back to the dorms before dawn, in need of a little something to get them through Friday classes.
I knew the perfect place for a confrontation. By the bridge along the riverbank, where he'd pass on his way home. The spot was always empty at that time of day, and the noise of rushing water would cover our discussion.
Cover a gunshot, too?
No, the gun was only a prop. To let him know this was going to be a serious conversation.
I stood by the foot of the bridge. He came by right on schedule. Walking. He only jogged where people could see him.
I waited until I could hear the buzz and crash from his music. Then I stepped out into his path.
"Casey?" He blinked and tugged at the earbuds, letting them fall, dangling, as he stared at me. "You look ..."
"Like I got the shit beat out of me?"
"It's not that bad."
"True. The bruises have healed. There are only ten stitches on my face. Oh, and this spot, where they had to shave my head to cut into my skull and relieve the bleeding." I turned to show him. "Plus a few teeth that will need to be replaced after my jaw's fully healed. My nose isn't straight, but they tell me plastic surgery will fix that. They also say I might walk without the limp if I work really, really hard at it."
He listened, nodding, an overly concerned expression on his face, as if I were an elderly aunt detailing my medical woes.
When I finished, he said, "You'll heal, then. That's good."
"Good?" I stepped toward him. "I almost died, Blaine. I had to drop out of police college. I'm told I'll never be a cop. That I'll never move fast enough. I might never think fast enough."
Excerpted from City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong. Copyright © 2016 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
Kind of mind blowing....the whole thought of a hidden town, in this day of age.....off the grid...that no one knows about....explained in a way that makes complete sense....the characters of such a town and how it works, just awesome....add in a murder mystery, and you have a story that you wish would not end....kudos to Ms. Armstrong, for another engaging tale....hope there is a sequel...
Outstanding!!!! The previous reviewer said it all, and I totally agree!! This is a true page turner not to be missed. Highly recommend!!!
I just couldn't stop reading it
Kept me engaged during the whole book.awesome read
A Kelley Armstrong MUST. Every page turn will have you engrossed even more.
Yet another throughly addicting series by Kelley Armstrong. Another series, another 'verse, another handful of characters to fall in love with.
Extremely unique setting and interesting characters. Not your run of the mill mystery. I happened to read the second book in the series first and immediately went and found the first book in the series which is this novel. It keeps you guessing. I eagerly anticipate the third book's publication. Very happy to have discovered this author and this series because the setting is so unusual the author is able to do things you cannot do in a traditional mystery. Terrific! Highly recommend you start with this book and read them in order.
What an awesome story. Loved it. On to the next book in this series.
Interesting concept Really enjoyed it TS
I love Casey duncun!
Grabs you by the throat and never lets go. Chilling. Taut. Incredibly plausible. Loved every word
I have just found a new series to read as I can’t stop thinking of this novel. Imagine a dark forest that the area village is afraid of entering because it contains creatures and dangerous individuals. The forest is there for hunting and for punishment, some individuals have been in the forest for years. I didn’t want to put this novel down once I got started and when I had to put it, I couldn’t stop thinking about the characters and what might happen next. There were plenty of twists and secrets inside this novel and they kept coming right up until the very end. The story begins with Casey telling her therapist that she killed a guy and she’s telling the truth. She did it in self-defense and the event has turned her life upside down. Casey is basically a loner and she confines in her best friend, Diane. Diane is a punching bag for her boyfriend, Graham and has been for years. Diane has a on-off relationship with her boyfriend. Casey is secretly dating a bartender who ends up getting shot one evening after work. This shooting is tied to the guy that Casey killed. Diane begins talking about a safe town where individuals can go to escape for a while but Casey ignores her. Casey tries to protect Diane from her abusive boyfriend and it frustrates her when Diane gets beat up. She doesn’t know how to protect her but she doesn’t believe in this safe town that Diane has been talking about. Diane ends up finding a phone number for his safe town and Casey makes the call and puts things in motion for the two of them to make the trip. The town is called Rockton and there is a time limit that most individuals stay. Population now is 200 people and it seems like a great place, a self-sufficient town but nothing is perfect including this small town. They have issues and not everyone knows or cares. Once individuals come into Rockton, they change and its usually not for the better. Oh, how I liked this freaky little town and its citizens. It seemed that they tried to create their own community to help others but what is this controlled society really attempting to do? What a fantastic read, I can’t wait to get back to it!
Was on vk when I read this which was good since I couldnt put it down. Put the rest of the series on my wishlist. Great read!!
Recommend & cant wait to finish the series
Amazing. Nothing bad to say about this book, i finished it in 3 days and now i need to read it again just for fun
here have always been stories of cities lost to the mists of time and history, Camelot, El Dorado, Z and others. Did they ever exist? Maybe. But if you are a certain type person, a criminal, a victim, a killer with money you might have heard of another town that offers sanctuary. Not a glamorous town by any means, the living is harder than you can imagine, but Rockton does exist. If you meet the stringent requirements of need and/or money you might get in. A homicide detective, Casey Duncan and her best friend Diana, a victim of spousal abuse are accepted grudgingly, very grudgingly by Sheriff Eric Dalton. According to Dalton he doesn’t want them, but the ruling council insists because Rockton needs a homicide detective-even one who has committed murder herself. Casey won’t come without Diana. Dalton runs Rockton with an iron hand. The most important rule, one that incurs severe punishment is you don’t go into the woods by yourself. Sometimes the punishment is administered by Sheriff Dalton, sometimes by the woods. There are scary people in the woods. There are apex predators in the woods because Rockton is located in the Yukon. People are dying in ugly torturous ways in the woods, deaths inflicted by humans. It is Casey’s job to find the killer and determine if it a resident or one of the many who live in the woods. The inhabitants of Rockton are scarred in their own way, even the killers who buy their way in. Once they arrive in Rockton they have to re-invent themselves. Casey is one of the few who can stay true to herself and maybe start to forgive herself. Casey begins to realize the sheriff is different for a reason. She begins to forge warm friendships with Deputy Will Anders and Doctor Beth. Eventually she begins to be more accepting of the local madam, Isabel. I loved that when misunderstandings occurred they were actually resolved in a reasonable amount of time by adults communicating. Ah, the woods, possibly the most interesting character in the book. Rockton is not far behind but I will instead leave it as a fascinating setting. There is not a character in the book that I did not find compelling. There are numerous surprises that await Casey and the reader. Well done surprises, not from out of left field. There are romances. One of which is just about the sweetest I’ve come across in a long time. Sweetest and damn hot too. For the love of all that is holy can not the denizens of Rockton learn the meaning of a locked door or a closed door, or of people not actually answering a door due to sleeping or ummm, something like that. The Sheriff needs to rectify that lack of knowledge of boundaries soonest with himself as first pupil. It was good to see a bit of lightness shed on all the darkness of Rockton. Here is my deep dark secret; I’ve already read this book three times since it came out. I am just fascinated by every aspect of it. Thank goodness there is an equally wonderful second book, A Darkness Absolute that is already out. https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...
WOW! City of the Lost will suck you in and keep you on the edge of your seat. Kelley Armstrong has a winner in this series. Casey Duncan is a smart homicide cop who let fear and anger create a circumstance where she killed a man. Yes he was the scum of the earth but she shouldn’t have killed him. She has been living with this for 12 years as she climbed through the ranks of the police force. Now her past has caught up with her and she needs a safe place. Enter Rockton a safe harbor for those who have made mistakes and victims that need to disappear. Casey's best friend, Diana, needs to get away from an abusive ex so they both arrange to move to this town in the middle of nowhere with few modern amenities but a chance to start anew. But despite Rockton’s billing as a safe haven it does have crime and Casey’s skills are needed. I fell for Casey. She is a smart overachiever with debts to pay but she isn’t angsty about it. I really enjoyed this book and am diving into the next installment asap.
Kelley Armstrong’s novels center around a mystery but usually take place in an Urban Fantasy setting. City of the Lost also has a mystery as the center of its story, but seems to be pretty straightforward without any hints of a fantasy world. However, the city Casey Duncan and her friend move to to escape their pasts sounds too good to be true. A city filled with other people who are trying to leave their pasts behind. A city thats off the grid and where no one can find you. A city with hints of the old west, where men outnumber the women and is policed by a sheriff, the favorite hangout is a saloon/brothel, and hints of danger in the forest that surrounds them. City of the Lost is a mystery with hints of horror, typically not my thing, but I loved it. Casey Duncan, our heroine, was allowed to live in Rockton because of her skills as a detective. Someone has started murdering the citizens of Rockton. When Casey arrives, she butts heads with the sheriff who has absolute rule, but soon learns how to work with him. Is there eventually an attraction between them? Yes, and it’s filled with emotional upheaval, passion, and grit, however, this is not a love story, though that bit was really enjoyable. This is a mystery and it’s intricately planned and the characters involved were fascinating. Imagine living in a city where every person there is escaping something. They could be victims, but they also may be the perpetrators of horrible crimes, yet no one knows each others past. Its a fresh slate, but sometimes a persons nature just can’t be changed. If you love mysteries, I highly recommend this excellent book. It’s the first in the series and I am not going to take too much time before starting the second!
This is the first book in the Casey Duncan series. I fell in love with Kelley Armstrong’s tales through her Other world series. Bitten is the first in that one. So, I discovered Nadia Stafford, not supernatural and loved that trilogy. Then this book came out, and I was interested. Imagine a place in the middle of middle of now where, where a person can shed their old life for a while, start fresh, but at a cost…A place that was designed for those who truly need to disappear. But Rockton, has its own secrets and its first murder. So, enters Casey Duncan, a woman with her own secret, and her friend Diana, who can’t escape her abusive ex. Rockton, needs a detective, Diana needs a fresh start… Soon after you start this tale, it grabs you and takes you on a wild ride, with twist and turns that keep you wanting to see how it all ends. I really enjoyed this story and wasn’t disappointed at all. Looking forward to the second book. A well written thriller. Worth the time to read.
Love the series!
I am shocked by how much I ended up liking this book. The story grabbed me immediately and I never lost interest. This was one of those books where just as soon as I thought I knew where the story was going, something would happen and I would realize that I was completely wrong. This really was the kind of book that can really hard to put down. This is the first book in the Casey Duncan series and after reading the first two books in the series, I do recommend that this series be read in order. This book really does set the groundwork for the next book in the series. This was a book that started in one manner and by the time it was over it was a completely different book. I loved that this book kept me guessing until the very end. Casey is a detective. A detective with a past. She is very protective of her friend, Diana, who has been the victim of domestic violence. She has even moved before in order to support her friend. Diana learns about a town where people like her can go to hide and desperately wants to go. She wants Casey to come along with her. They end up going to Rockton, a town off the grid, in the Canadian wilderness. Rockton is filled with interesting characters. Casey is put to work right away with Sheriff Dalton who more or less runs the town. The mystery in this story really took a lot of twists and turns that were completely unexpected. I had no idea which characters could be trusted from one moment to the next. I had to keep the pages turning just to find out what would happen. The writing was wonderful. I was sucked into the story from the first sentence. Literally the first sentence. The pacing of the story was perfectly done. There were points in the book that were focused on really getting to know the characters while others were actively working on the mystery. The mystery was complex and believable. I honestly cannot believe that this is the first book by Kelley Armstrong that I have read because it seems that I am really missing out. I would highly recommend this book to mystery thriller fans. Although Kelley Armstrong is known for writing books filled with supernatural elements, this book is a straight up mystery thriller. And it is a good one.