Murder, Mystery, & a Secret Town in the Arctic │ City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong

city of the lost by kelley armstrongCity of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1) by Kelley Armstrong

Mystery Thriller
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published January 12th, 2016 by Random House Canada

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.

From the Publisher:

Casey Duncan once killed a man and got away with it. But that’s not why she’s on the run. Her best friend’s ex has found Diana again, despite all Casey has done to protect her. And Diana has decided the only way she’ll ever be safe is if she finds the mythical town she’s heard of where people like her can go to hide. Turns out the town really exists, and will take Diana, but only if Casey, a talented young police detective, comes too.

 Imagine a hidden town, isolated in the Yukon wilderness, where everyone is pretending to be someone they’re not. Even good people can get up to some very bad stuff. The laconic town sheriff dispenses his own frontier justice, but he’s more accustomed to sobering up drunks in the horse trough, than attempting to solve the series of brutal murders that has rocked the town. As much as he hates it, he needs Casey. As for Casey, coming to the far North may have started out as a sacrifice she was willing to make for her best friend. But maybe, just maybe, she needs Rockton as much as the town needs her.

Does that synopsis not just grab you? A hidden town in the Yukon wilderness? People hiding out? Frontier justice?

This is Kelley Armstrong’s latest adult book, and I was so excited to get a copy from the publisher! As soon as I received it I started reading. And I was hooked immediately.

Casey Duncan (or Butler, depending on who you ask), is a no-nonsense badass kicking butts and taking names. She has some serious baggage, but she has started again in a new city with her best friend Diana. Now Casey is making a name for herself as a detective and is settling in (well, as much as she can, anyway).

But then history shows its ugly face and they are on the move again. They end up in the fabled “City of the Lost” which in reality isn’t much more than a shantytown hidden in the Canadian Arctic with only the bare essentials.

That on its own is an extremely interesting idea. A town completely off the grid in the 21st century? I guess if there was such a place, the Arctic would be the perfect spot. The best part is we don’t only get an original and atmospheric setting, but we get one peopled with insanely interesting characters too.

There is a definite mystery/thriller aspect to this story, with mysterious and grizzly murders happening in this invisible town. However, that wasn’t the main focus. At least not to me. That was simply one aspect of the mystery of Rockton that highlighted and defined the other strange aspects of the town.

First of all, there’s the town itself. How did this place come to be? How does it sustain itself? Then there is the forest that surrounds it. What’s out there? The wildlife out there may be dangerous, but why are they so vehemently warned against entering the forest? And most importantly, there are the people of Rockton. Who are they, and why are they there?

First we have Casey. Your resident strong female lead (man, do I ever love that trend in books right now, amirite), with a past that threatens her sanity and her safety. She’s also loyal to a fault with strong protective instincts, especially toward her friend Diana. She would do anything to keep her safe. Now these two women are trying to blend in to their strange new home.

Next we have Eric Dalton. He’s the similarly no-nonsense Sheriff of Rockton. Blunt and demanding,  he’s got baggage of his own. He’s an anomaly, enigmatic. He’s a million other such descriptors and not an easy man to get to know. What is he hiding?

Then we have Will Anders, the Deputy. The resident pretty boy with a can-do attitude, he’s the nicest guy in town–everybody says so. He’s a great cop, and the only person Eric really trusts. But everyone that comes to Rockton has a secret—what’s his? 

Each and every member of the town has more than a secret or two they are trying to hide. Are any of them worth killing for? 

As Casey’s investigation of the murders progresses, she begins to unveil the town and its people layer by layer. I loved trying to figure out how things were going to go—and they never went how I thought! As she gets to know Rockton, so do you and it’s an amazing (and weird) ride! 

I loved this book. Especially the setting! It feels like a mix of the 21st century, frontier life, and a dystopian/post apocalyptic society. I cannot wait for the second instalment! I am dying to find more about this crazy place and its motley crew of characters.

Want more Kelley Armstrong? Check out my reviews of more of her books in my Review Archive!