Wednesday, September 21, 2016

City of the Lost - Kelley Armstrong

Summary: Casey Duncan is a homicide detective with a secret: when she was in college, she killed a man. She was never caught, but he was the grandson of a mobster and she knows this crime will catch up to her. Casey's best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana's husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it's time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a domestic violence support town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you're accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council's approval. As a murderer, Casey isn't a good candidate, but she has something they want; she's a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn't the only secret Rockton is hiding - in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives. (Summary and pic from

My Review: I am surprised how much I liked this book. I didn’t expect it to be as compelling or interesting as it was. I’ve read a lot of crime novels, and I’ve read a lot of crime novels recently, actually. I expected this one to fit squarely in the middle of all the others, somewhat unremarkable but a decent crime story. I have traditionally liked Armstrong’s writing; I’ve read at least one series that she’s written as well as another book here and there, and some I liked more than others. But like I said, this one surprised me.

There are a few things that stood out in this book that made me really like it. First of all, I enjoyed the writing. I always think Armstrong does a good job of writing a very conversational book that is easy to read and understand. When I read her books, I’m not expecting literary genius, I’m just expecting to enjoy it and know what’s going on and not have to think about every sentence. I want to just enjoy the book. She certainly accomplished that in this book. Secondly, I usually like her characters. The main female character is not completely dissimilar to others I’ve read of hers, but that’s okay. I like that they’re intelligent and snarky and sarcastic. I connect with that. I like cool female leads and this is certainly one of those. Her other characters are usually great as well, and this book definitely had some fun and interesting characters.

I think the strength of this book, though, was the storyline. I thought it was fascinating. I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for reading about weird hidden communities where strange stuff goes on and they operate by their own rules. My love of cultures really shows here, and I thought the community and the situation was fascinating. Put it in a remote, rugged place with hostiles and unpredictable people and you’ve got a great mix of stuff going on. I really enjoyed it, like I said.

I read this book in about a day and a half. I usually don’t read books like this in that short of time. This one had me captivated. There was a lot going on and the storyline was interesting. There is a romance, as with all things Armstrong, and there is plenty of drama, so be prepared for that. I’m definitely looking forward to the second installment in the series.

My Rating: 4 Stars

For the sensitive reader: This book is has some seriously bad language (one of the characters uses the “F” word in almost every sentence. And sometimes that’s the only word in the sentence). There is violence and also some sex scenes. I’ve reviewed Armstrong before and feel that sometimes her sex scenes are gratuitous, and I think that in this case, she was elevating some of the language and violence and sex scenes to try to keep up with others in the genre. It’s not Scandinavian author quality, but it is definitely not “Murder She Wrote.”

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