Friday, April 28, 2017

A Darkness Absolute - Kelley Armstrong

Summary: The follow-up to #1 NYT bestseller Kelley Armstrong’s acclaimed City of the Lost, Rockton town detective Casey Duncan makes a terrible—and dangerous—discovery in the woods outside of town.

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. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: I've been on a reading tour of the recent Newbery Awards, so maybe you know how that goes...simple reads with a lot of substance. Cute kids, fun stories, exceptional writing. I mean, who doesn't love the Newbery Award winners? I think it's very safe to say--and you will probably agree wholeheartedly here--that this book is very different from that. And you know what? I was kind of a nice break. I've very much enjoyed reading all the awesomeness that the Newbery Awards have had this year, but every once in awhile I enjoy a feisty female detective in a society cut off from it all.

Several months ago I reviewed the first book in this series, City of the Lost. Read that review here. I have enjoyed some of Armstrong's works in the past, and so I was excited to see a new series come out, especially an adult series. The series I really enjoyed previously was a YA Fic series, and I am embarrassed to admit what that was so we're moving along. Anyway, the premise to this series is really cool. It takes place in an off-the-grid kind of wilderness place (think Canadian Yukon, not crazy town North Korea). The people are isolated geographically from the outside world because they are being protected from people who wish them serious harm, although there are those that have bought their way in to the community to get rid of their shady and criminal past. No one knows who is who, and even the sheriff (a swarthy and salty-mouthed man) is on a very limited need-to-know basis about peoples' past. This is all controlled by a Big Brother-like committee who makes the Big Decisions. It's like the ultimate party game of Mafia where nobody knows who is the bad guy or the good guy, and when someone wakes up dead they could be a common villager or someone that they should be protected from. So it's fun, right? A party game in book form. And serious, of course. Because the dead people won't be eating pigs in a blanket and grape-jelly-and-hot-sauce meatballs after everyone is out and the game is over.

One thing that I really like about this series so far is how the place is an actual character. It is as much a fight against the weather and the atmosphere as it is the hostile people. And there are outsiders from the community. All good mysteries should have outsiders. These outsiders are two-fold--those who have left the community, and those who have grown up on the outside. Those people are suspiciously feral and unpredictable. It just really makes for a foreboding and dangerous feeling throughout the book. In a good way, of course.

The actual human characters are fun and interesting as well. There's some mushy love stories going on as well as the predictable sex scenes (Armstrong loves sex scenes). These are not horribly graphic, although I wouldn't call them clean.  The people are interesting, though, and many of them are multi-dimensional, which comes naturally both because that's how people are but also there is a sense of not really knowing who anyone is just because of the nature of the town and the secrets it holds.

I thought this was a pretty fun book overall with a good twist at the end. There is quite a bit of language. Armstrong likes to be a Big Girl by putting the "F" word all around in the book just to make sure we know that she can write adult books as well as YA Fic, where she also uses bad language. The character that uses this language the most--the sheriff--uses it creatively and in many forms--noun, verb, etc. So there's that. If you don't mind language, and are up for a good mystery with a super cool additional character of the atmosphere, this is your book.

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: Do not read this book. Sex scenes. Language. Bad language.

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