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.
I’ll be honest. I accidentally read this book before reading City of the Lost. It wasn’t intentional. Kelley Armstrong has had some solo books come out of the years and I assumed this was one of them. However, I was so drawn in by this story, that it wasn’t truly until I was halfway through that I realized there was a book before this one. In my opinion, this story could almost work as a standalone, if a few of the references were introduced as memories or past events in a bit more clarity (i.e. Jacob assaulting Casey). Regardless, I did read the first book after this one, so I wanted to review based on my initial thoughts and my summative thoughts.
This novel had a darker approach to it, both in mood and setting. The cold winter setting leads to less of the interactive moments that colored the first novel. Also, while the first novel left me wanting to go explore caves or rock climb, this one left me envisioning why I should never do such things (aka I will die!). In contrast, I find that I liked Casey better in this novel. Perhaps this is due to more character development and the interpersonal relationships already being established with fellow members of Rockton.
I also enjoyed that the main murder plot was focused on a single suspect (even though it is theorized at one point that it could be multiple people). The amount of characters involved in the previous novel’s crime was a bit confusing and tangled for my personal taste. However, the idea of being held hostage in a dark cave for over a year is beyond creepy.
Overall, I love how the author continues to develop the entire town and its inhabitants. The reader gets more insight to some of the initial behaviors/reactions of townspeople from the first novel, while still uncovering more secrets about those who have been snuck in by the committee. This is a solid murder/kidnapping plot and I enjoyed not truly understanding who was responsible until a few chapters before Casey begins to put the pieces together. I’m already started on book 3 and it’s my intention to finish all of the books in this series by the end of next week. That’s how much I enjoyed this book!
Reviewer’s note: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for a review (over two years ago… Oops!). All opinions of the book are my own.