Title: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
Casey Duncan Series Book Two
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
When experienced homicide detective Casey Duncan first moved to the secret town of Rockton, she expected a safe haven for people like her, people running from their past misdeeds and past lives. She knew living in Rockton meant living off-the-grid completely: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. What she didn’t expect is that Rockton comes with its own set of secrets and dangers.
Now, in A Darkness Absolute, Casey and her fellow Rockton sheriff’s deputy Will chase a cabin-fevered resident into the woods, where they are stranded in a blizzard. Taking shelter in a cave, they discover a former resident who’s been held captive for over a year. When the bodies of two other women turn up, Casey and her colleagues must find out if it’s an outsider behind the killings or if the answer is more complicated than that…before another victim goes missing.
Casey Duncan returns in another heart-racing thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong.
A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong is an engrossing mystery with an unusual setting, unique characters and a fantastic storyline. This second novel in the Casey Duncan series can be read as a standalone, but to fully understand some aspects of the story, I highly recommend reading book one, City of the Lost, first.
Four months after arriving in Rockton, an off the grid, isolated town in the Yukon territory, Casey (Duncan) Butler is much more settled into her new life and unexpected relationship with Sheriff Eric Dalton. With her first winter in Rockton upon her, she and Deputy Will Anders are taken off guard by the sudden blizzard that strikes while they are searching for Shawn Sutherland, a resident suffering from cabin fever. Too far from town to risk returning home, Casey and Will hunker down in a cave to wait out the raging storm where they unexpectedly find a woman whom it appears is being held against her will in the cave. The captive is none other than Nicole Chavez, who was declared dead soon after vanishing from Rockton over a year earlier.
Nicole is unable to identify her kidnapper and when Casey, Eric and Will return to the cave to look for evidence, they discover the remains of two other women who went missing from Rockton. The facts of the case indicate the person responsible for the abductions is most likely one of the settlers or hostiles who live in the vast wilderness outside the town’s borders. With their investigation complicated by the isolation, their lack of technology and the harsh elements, will Casey and Eric find the murderer before another woman goes missing?
Residing in a town where everyone has a criminal past, trying to find suspect for the kidnappings and murders would seem to an impossible task. But with a relatively high turnover of residents, Casey and Eric find it fairly easy to narrow down their list of potential perpetrators. With only a handful of people to investigate, the process of elimination leaves them with only one logical conclusion: no one in town could have kidnapped all three victims therefore the person responsible HAS to be an outsider. While this means their search for murderer is now a much more daunting task, they know they have to find the killer in order to protect the women who live in Rockton.
As the only member of the small police force with law enforcement experience in the “outside” world, Casey is an expert at gathering, preserving and interpreting evidence. While some of this evidence is not of much use since they have little in way of technology, her expertise coupled with her keen insights and finely honed instincts prove to be her most valuable assets. Casey routinely pieces together the seemingly incongruent clues to come up with plausible scenarios about the circumstances of what happened in the caves but she is also struggling to come up with viable suspects in the case.
Since Eric is a longtime resident of Rockton, he has a few useful contacts outside the town borders he can reach out to for help. His younger brother, Jacob, provides helpful information and while they have a good relationship, it is a little fraught due to their complicated past. Things are occasionally tense between Casey and Jacob because of his embarrassment over a previous incident between. Eric also seeks help from Ty Cypher, who was a previously part of Rockton’s law enforcement team but does he have information that will help them during their investigation?
A Darkness Absolute is a fast-paced police procedural with an intriguing storyline and a stellar cast of characters. Kelley Armstrong brings the Yukon wilderness and the harsh weather conditions vibrantly to life. The plot is well-developed and the investigation into the kidnappings is quite fascinating. With unexpected twists and turns, the novel comes to a stunning and action-filled conclusion. This latest installment of the Casey Duncan series will leave fans eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.