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by Kelley Armstrong
Minotaur, February 2023
352 pages
ISBN: 1250865417

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The Rockton series by Kelley Armstrong had been coming to an end over its final several books, and I had been hoping that it wouldn't actually be the end of Casey Duncan and Eric Dalton's story. They'd been the law enforcement in a remote and highly camouflaged town in the Yukon, but greed had taken over to the extent that the town was no longer viable. For background to this new spinoff series set at Haven's Rock, go back and enjoy the seven books in the Rockton series.

As MURDER AT HAVEN'S ROCK opens, the new town that Casey and Eric are starting, also a remote and hidden town in the Yukon, is under construction. They, and some of the more positive influences from the Rockton series, are financing the town. There's only one rule for the construction workers Don't.go.into.the.forest. Some say rules are meant to be broken, and so the new series begins. A member of the construction team has gone missing, and Casey (the detective in the series) and Dalton (her husband and wilderness expert), arrive in the partially completed town to find the missing woman. During the investigation, both members of the new town, Haven's Rock, and inhabitants of the forest around the town are introduced. There is a fascinating recluse who has her own way of staying undetected, and miners, both off-the-grid and corporately-funded, just as a start to those who might take an interest in the new town. And, of course, there are the non-human animals to be concerned about.

Armstrong writes so evocatively about the wilderness that reading one of her books is like taking an off-the-grid vacation. Trails, campsites, and caves are carved into the reader's consciousness and remain there long after the book is finished. The construct of a new series allows Armstrong to reintroduce Casey and Duncan, as well as a few other characters, to us. The characterization of these already-favorite (to me and other readers of the Rockton series) people is very strong, and both new and old characters who will play a part as this series progresses are well defined.

The book is hard to put down as the action ratchets up and races toward the conclusion. Plot does not take a second seat to characterization and transportive writing about the wilderness. As we try, along with Casey and Duncan, to figure out what is going on in the forest outside of Haven's Rock, we are totally immersed in the environment. The questions that remains as all of the loose ends are tied up is, how did Casey and Duncan miss the inhabitants of the area surrounding Haven's Rock as they did their initial scouting, and how will the interaction between those forest-dwellers and the townspeople play out in the future?

Something to look forward to!

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

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, December 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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