So I'm posting this a little later than I expected. But, you know. Life got in the way.
I have no memory whatsoever of requesting this book from my library, but I’m so glad that I did. If you’re looking for a mystery with complicated characters doing what they can to live with their pasts and survive in their present, then this book is calling your name. Do you hear it?
Police Detective Casey Duncan reveals to a therapist at the beginning of City of the Lost that she killed her former boyfriend. She shot him after he left her to be mercilessly beaten by men who were angry that he was selling drugs on their turf—and she was never charged with the crime. This is a long-standing pattern of behavior for her, of revealing what she did to therapists and waiting for the consequences to catch up to her. In her case, those consequences could come through the law, or through her former boyfriend’s family, who are members of an organized crime syndicate.
So when Casey’s present-day lover is shot when he tries to protect her, she’s very upset, but not entirely surprised that her former boyfriend’s family has finally figured his death out and come for revenge. Concurrently, Casey’s best friend Diana’s abusive husband attacks her again, and Diana begs Casey to move with her to a city she’s heard about, where it’s possible to entirely disappear. Wanting to protect the man who was shot trying to save her and her best friend, Casey reluctantly agrees to move to this community in the wilds of Canada.
Still with me?
This community of roughly 200 people is completely off the grid, completely hidden from outsiders. But they do have some pluses, including an attractive—and extremely complicated (read the second line of the post)—sheriff, Eric Dalton, who isn’t happy about Casey’s presence and who gives her 6-months before he sends her back home. There’s also the small matter of a proportionately high number of people being killed in this community, for no clear reason that Eric or others can determine.
Can Casey crack the case? Is it possible for her to change Eric’s mind, and does she want to? And more important for her own development, can she come to terms with what she’s done?
As with the finest of mystery novels, the mystery here is secondary to Armstrong’s skilled characterization of people who have made tremendous mistakes but who have much to offer each other and themselves.
And if you enjoy this one as much as I did, check out the sequel: A Darkness Absolute. It’s on my To Read list.
About the Author
When my toddler and infant sleep--or are otherwise engaged--I write, read, and eat lots of chocolate.