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by Kelley Armstrong
Minotaur Books, February 2022
352pp pages
ISBN: 1250781736

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I've been waiting for the developments in this book over the last few of the series. Detective Casey Duncan and Sheriff Eric Dalton have been chafing against both the actions and restrictions instituted by the behind-the-scenes directors of the hidden town, Rockton, which they are responsible for keeping safe for residents. It's been clear that some sort of split is going to take place, and we've thankfully reached that point in this book, the seventh in the series. Armstrong has provided us with a new law enforcement challenge for Casey and Eric at the same time that she's spiked the book with a great deal of background information. This makes what appears to be a pivot point in the series accessible for those who have yet to encounter the deep Yukon town of Rockton. Those of us who have been following the series can now be joined by those new to it as a new iteration of the town begins.

Each of the residents has a deep secret about why he or she is a resident in town: a secret that has been carefully guarded by the few who have a need to know. When the background of a key player in the town is plastered on signage in the middle of town, it becomes clear that no one's secret is safe. While Casey and Duncan investigate who placed the poster in the open, it becomes clear that someone is willing to kill to keep his or her own secrets safe. Casey's efforts are not appreciated by the town managers, who have forbidden her to investigate. This makes for much subterfuge on the part of many characters, and a kidnapping and murder investigation that is hampered by town politics.

This book includes perhaps a bit more local politics than most of the series, but it does not skimp on the fast-paced excitement that is a hallmark of Armstrong's writing. The book, as have all of the others, grabs the reader at the outset and keeps things engaging enough that putting it down isn't really an option. The town of Rockton, off the grid and hidden behind radio silence, is well described as is the forest surrounding it. In this case, the menace is coming from inside the town, so there is not as much involvement with the surrounding landscape as there has often been. I have to admit that I have come to know the main characters over seven books, so it is somewhat difficult for me to determine how well this individual book does with characterization. However, no one acts against character and all are very well realized.

I've been saying for several books now that I'm waiting for the turning point that appeared in this book. Now I am on tenterhooks waiting to find out how the new direction works out. If you haven't read any of the series, go ahead and start here to get caught up to speed, and then we can all enjoy the changes to come.

Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in Arizona.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, January 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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