Genre: Mystery/Thrillers with Romantic Elements.
Tropes: found family, small town, new start.
Casey Duncan, Chinese/Filipino/Scottish Canadian, former police detective with a killer secret.
Eric Dalton, White, wilderness-born sheriff of secret small town in the Yukon.
Series CWs: Guns, murder, mutilation, medical procedures, sex work, slut-shaming, kidnapping, rape, beatings, abandonment, drugs, cop MCs, abduction, torture, violence, harassment, serial killer, betrayal, mentions of molestation, toxic parents, past trauma: child death, drug use, homophobia, racism, brainwashing, blackmail, alcoholism. ( and probably more I am missing).
The Set-up: As a young adult Casey Duncan made a series of terrible choices, leading to a traumatic assault and the murder of her former boyfriend. To spite all those who thought she would never recover, she worked harder than ever to fulfill her childhood dream of being coming a cop, but ten years on, her life is pretty bleak. She lives for her job and has few connections outside her regular hookup (whose last name she hasn't bothered to learn) and her childhood best friend, whose relationship drama and toxic ex, prompt them to escape north to a secret town in the Yukon for a few years of sanctuary. Rockton is not at all what Casey expected and so much more. It upends her expectations and transforms her in ways she could have not imagined when she signed up for a sixth month stay.
While Rockton is a small town, the setting is not one of regular small town since everyone there is in hiding, from consequences of past mistakes, from vindictive exes or folks even more dangerous and increasingly a greater share of those residents are also fleeing from the law. Everyone there has paid a price for this chance to start over, for temporary sanctuary. But there are also two Rocktons, one made up of the temporary residents and the other the council, the off-site group of investors that keep the town going, recruiting and vetting new residents and bankrolling the operation. While residents might have been promised a safe place to lay low and regroup, the council is not a non-profit and has been increasingly sending less than worthy but high-paying criminals. Trying to keep the peace in this fragile community is Eric Dalton, the only permanent resident of the town, its sheriff and the only child ever raised in Rockton. He is deeply suspicious of Casey even as he is desperate for someone with her skills as there have been more and more sinister incidents happening in town.
I was totally engrossed and sucked in by this series. I loved the complexities faced by Casey and Eric as they try to solve big and small mysteries, and untangle their feelings for those around them. Who can they trust, how do you keep people safe, who am I really, who am I responsible for, what are the best choices when you only have bad ones? There is a lot going on in each book and I loved how Casey and Eric so often have to re-evaluate their choices in light of new information and unearthed connections, and there is always something deeper and truer to uncover. I am eager to see what Armstrong does in the 2nd series.
Mini-Reviews from Twitter:
23. City of the Lost by Kelly Armstrong (Rockton/Casey Duncan #1, AW/WM, Mystery/Thriller series). Hidden city, hidden agendas & hidden murders. CWs: Guns, murder, mutilation, medical procedures, sex work, slut-shaming, kidnapping, rape, beatings, abandonment, drugs, cop MCs.
24. A Darkness Absolute (Rockton #3, WM/AW — Chinese/Filipino heroine Mystery/thriller with Rom Elements) gripping, emotional and invested in this little town. Cw: murder, abduction, rape, torture, guns, violence, harassment.
25. This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong (AW/WM, mystery/thriller with rom elements). So much running around in the woods! CWs: murder, serial killer, betrayal, mentions of molestation, torture.
26. Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong (AW/WM, mystery with rom elements) yay for complicated small town dynamics and lots of theories coming home to roost! Casey’s sister! Cw: murder, toxic parents, past trauma: child death, drug use, medical procedures
27. Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong (AW/WW, mystery with rom elements) HUGE revelations and complications as Casey and Eric try to find the parents of foundling child. CWs: murder, homophobia, racism, medical procedures, kidnapping, brainwashing.
28. Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong ( AW/WM, Mystery/Thriller with Rom Elements) a massacre in the woods, big pharma & decades old plot. Finally resolution to one of the big mysteries and the start of the end game. CWs: murder, kidnapping.
29. The Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong (AW/WM, mystery thriller with Rom Elements). With council decided does anything still matter? Of course it does to Casey & Eric and the Rockton crew. CWs: murder, blackmail, alcoholism, betrayals.