This is the second book in Armstrong's Rockton series and while this book could be read as a stand alone novel, if you are okay with not knowing the entire backstory of Casey and how she became a resident at Rockton, but I HIGHLEY recommend the first book, City of the Lost, as it is a great read especially if you like the small town mystery/thrillers like I do.
Kelley Armstrong takes readers back to Rockton where a woman thought to be long dead is very much alive:
Casey And Will are hot on the trail of a runner from Rockton. He got cabin fever and decided to get out of there by going full force into the wilderness without proper supplies, when a blizzards hits out of nowhere. They are forced to weather the storm in a nearby cave and that is when they make a disturbing discovery. Nicole Chavez has been missing from Rockton for over a year and she was assumed dead but the truth was much worse. She has been held captive and only given enough just to survive by some unknown man. As Casey and Dalton look for clues as to who was capable of this, was it a Rockton residence or one of the unknown people of the forest, they discover the bodies of two other Rockton women who were presumed missing. There has been a serial killer lurking around Rockton taking advantage of the forest and those who venture one. Now it's up to Casey to find them before the next woman goes missing and it might just be Casey.
Wow this is an amazing follow up to the first book in the series and while it may have to contend with similar elements as the first, the story is completely different. There is much more focus on the mountains and cave systems that are accessible to those who live in Rockton as well as those who live in the forest. There are quite a few spelunking (never thought I would get to use that word in a review) scene that if you have a fear of claustrophobia your hands may sweat. Heck I don't have a fear of small spaces and Armstrong's writing made me uncomfortable. Armstrong also does a good job at keeping the suspect list long, which really is not hard considering the residence of Rockton all have secrets and some are more disturbing than other. I was able to figure it out, but that does not mean that Armstrong did not have me questioning myself more than once. There is also the outside meddling of the council who are able to really oversee and affect some decision that are made in Rockton as well as who they let in and their meddling is ever present in this book.
What I really like about this series and setting is that although this book is set in modern times they are forced back many decades within regards to forensic evidence. There isn't any fancy lab in Rockton and even if there was there would probably be no way to power it. There is no outside lab that they can send evidence too, what Casey and the other officers have to rely on in their own interpretation of the evidence when trying to solve the mysteries. It takes it back to good old detective work and I really love that.
Interesting to see the development of the relationship between Casey and Dalton and how this dynamic also affects some aspects of their work one. Especially with Dalton as he can be very domineering and Casey basically telling him that he has to be able to separate the two in order for their relationship to survive. And well Dolton get Casey a puppy so he gets points in my book.
This is an amazing series so far and I am completely hooked. I'm off to buy the next two books in this series. I read the blurb at the back of this book for the next book and it sounds amazing. I cannot get enough.