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.
What I liked: A Darkness Absolute begins not too long after City of the Lost ended. I’m not going to recap the whole premise behind this series except to say, Ms Armstrong has a pretty distinctive setting for this series. I was so involved I even got on “maps” to see just exactly where the Yukon was in relation to what I already knew geography wise. Believe me, it’s extremely isolated.
In the process of looking for a resident, Casey and Deputy Will Anders discover a woman in a hole. The woman, Nicole, had been missing from the settlement for over a year and was assumed dead. Instead she’s been held captive as a sex slave. She has never seen her captor’s face and can only give a general description. Now, the work begins to solve the case.
Casey and Sheriff Eric Dalton are now a steady couple and try to keep their work and private lives separate. That isn’t always possible as Dalton is so protective of Casey. Casey keeps running into who she thinks is the bad guy. He’s not backing away and several residents are attacked. The question becomes, is the assailant a member of the town, a settler or a hostile.
The community is small and to find the kidnapper Casey and Dalton need more information from the mysterious council. The council's representative in Rockton is Val Zapata. For some reason, she doesn’t trust the sheriff at all and Casey is trying to get to the bottom of that mystery while trying to put the clues together to catch the bad guy.
All that being said, in A Darkness Absolute, I found the plot more intriguing than the one in the first book. However, it’s still all about the characters, their backgrounds and most especially their secrets that I find addictive. Casey is a strong character and her boss/romantic interest only complements how strong she is. Dalton is smart about reading people and is strict with obeying the laws of the community but romance wise he comes across as a bit immature. I don’t mean that in a bad way, it’s just he’s not been in a committed relationship before and he and Casey are trying to find a good balance. The romance/sex didn’t overwhelm the rest of the story which I love. I do like romantic suspense and A Darkness Absolute had just the right amount of romance for my tastes.
The secondary characters are stepping more into the limelight now also. We met some of them in the previous book but now we meet more and I can’t wait to see what Ms Armstrong does with some of these characters. I just want to know everything basically.
What I didn’t like: Here’s my usual whine about the pricing. The e-book is a whopping $12.99 and the hardcover under $18 so it’s up to you if you want to buy or borrow.
We also meet more secondary characters which on occasion I had a hard time keeping track of who was who. I think some of my problem is the time between books. I think this is going to be a series that is published once a year so prepare yourselves to recap the previous book before diving into this one.
Overall, I still think Ms Armstrong has brilliantly created something very different in the suspense/mystery genre with the Casey Duncan series.