The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. Casey Duncan, the town’s only detective on a police force of three, has already faced murder, arson and falling in love in less than the year that she’s lived there. Yet even she didn’t think it would be possible for an outsider to find and cause trouble in the town she’s come to call home.
When a US Marshal shows up in town demanding the release of one of the residents, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Dalton, are skeptical. And yet only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only visible suspects are the townspeople and her estranged sister, in town for just the weekend. It’s up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why they would kill to keep him quiet.
Unlike the previous novels, there is very little time that has passed since the end of the last novel and the beginning of this novel. This is an unusual change, but it’s fitting as the ending of the previous novel had a huge cliffhanger. So let’s begin with a recap:
- Casey discovered that Val was the sniper and is forced to kill her.
- Casey and Eric see that Petra is the person who kills Brady, after he’s been confronted with the fact that helped his stepfather in the torture and murder of others.
- Kenny is shot in the back and the bullet is near his spine.
- Casey mentions that she does know one neurosurgeon… her sister.
This novel begins with Casey and Eric arriving to talk to Casey’s older sister, April. As a reader, we don’t truly know a lot about April besides the fact she was a high achieving neurosurgeon and she didn’t have a close relationship with Casey. The introduction of April in the series and Rockton helps to shed some light on Casey’s strained relationship with her parents. Especially when several of the townspeople identify that April is autistic. As a parent of an autistic child, I always like seeing how authors handle this diagnosis and I like that Kelley Armstrong didn’t try to do a ton of psychoanalyzing April.
The town is slowly falling apart at the seams. After all of the recent events from the past three books, it’s clear that something is going on in Rockton and if Casey, Will, and Eric don’t get ahead of it, things are going to hell. Especially when a U.S. Marshall finds his way to Rockton in search of a fugitive. This leads to the question I’m sure we are asking: Exactly how many people know about Rockton?
There is a lot going on in this book and I fear that any summary I offer will be filled with spoilers. However, if you’re reading this review, I’m hoping you’ll read the first three books before getting to this one. For the first three books, Eric, Casey and Will have been trying to uncover the motives and secrets from the council. While it’s clear they have been allowing people in with false stories, there’s not a lot of clarity of why… besides the obvious desire for more money. This novel actually features more insight into the original intentions of the settlement and some back history. In a way, the history of Rockton is becoming a well developed side plot. Hopefully it’s to help foreshadow what’s to come and how to tie in other events that await the people of Rockton.
A lot of this book is Casey questioning herself and what she knows. How well does she truly know the people of Rockton? How well does she know her friends? Can she be trusted to make decisions and will she be able to recover if she makes the wrong choice? Does she truly understand her childhood and her family?
It’s a lot of soul searching paired with uncovering the identity of the U.S. Marshall’s murderer, dealing with constant discord within the town, managing alliances or peace between Rockton and the settlements, and surviving in the Yukon wilderness. Most importantly, it’s a well developed plot that continues to capture the reader’s attention. I am now sadly on the waitlist for book 5. So be warned, I have yet another Rockton review coming soon!
While you wait, perhaps you should read the series and tell me what you think.