Title: City of the Lost (Casey Duncan, 1)
Author: Kelley Armstrong
Genre: Detective Novel, Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: Sphere (14th January 2016)
Detective Casey Duncan has a dark past, and it’s about to catch up with her. When her best friend Diana is attacked by an abusive ex, the two women realise they have to disapper, fast. Diana’s heard of a hidden town that’s so remote it’s almost impossible to reach. A town that desperately needs a new detective.
Casey has barely arrived in Rockton when a body is discovered. A man’s been murdered and there’s no time to waste. Casey’s job won’t be easy: everyone in town has a secret. Meanwhile her boss, Sheriff Eric Dalton, is a troubled man who’s hard to read and even harder to please.
With no chance of help from the outside world, Casey will have to rely on her wits to solve the case. But she’s running out of time. Rockton’s killer is on the hunt, and this deep in the wilderness, no one is safe.
Rating: **** (4 stars)
CITY OF THE LOST is, I believe, the first book in a new series by the brilliant Kelley Armstrong. CITY OF THE LOST tells the story of Casey Duncan, a police detective with a past that’s about to catch up with her. Her best friend Diana, who is running from an abusive ex, hears about a town where people who want to disappear can go and live. Rockton desperately needs a detective; when Casey arrives she quickly gets pulled into a case of murders. In a town where everyone has skeletons in their closets, it is difficult to tell whom you can trust.
I have been excited to get my hands on this book ever since I first heard about it – a town where people go to disappear. I thought the concept sounded really interesting, and I have to say that this book did not disappoint. In some ways Casey reminded me a bit of Elena, from Armstrong’s Otherworld series, despite this being at heart a detective novel, like the Nadia Stafford series. Casey is a really strong person, and I enjoyed watching her journey through the book as she tired to solve the murders in Rockton. As always, Armstrong does a great job with the supporting cast.
I want to preface this section by saying that I actually found it quite difficult to talk about CITY OF THE LOST in terms of the plot without veering into spoiler territory. For me the big joy of this book was how brilliantly and how carefully Armstrong has woven the story together. I found the story to be intricate and compelling; I really enjoyed the way that the story sort of fell out in front of me. There is a lot going on in this book, and for me that was part of the joy, but I never felt lost within the narrative.
CITY OF THE LOST is very definitely a detective novel; there are no fantastic elements to the narrative. I actually quite liked this, and thought Armstrong does a really good thriller. Secrets are a huge theme through the novel; I guess it’s to be expected seeing as Rockton is a place where people go to disappear. It also plays into the who can you trust aspect of a detective novel – in a town built on secrets, can you trust anyone? The murders are obviously the major plot of the book, but Armstrong also has several other threads through the novel that focus on things like Casey’s friendship with Diana, and how Casey settles into life in Rockton. As such there is definitely scope for future books in this series, which I think could be interesting. That being said, CITY OF THE LOST does feel like a complete story. I think in part this is because it was originally intended to be a standalone.
If you are looking for a detective novel with a unique idea, then CITY OF THE LOST may be just what you are looking for. It contains all the elements of a good thriller, with the twist of being set in a place where people who have disappeared live.