City of the Lost: A Rockton Novel (Casey Duncan Novels), by Kelley Armstrong
This mystery/thriller set in Canada starts out with an interesting main character. Casey Duncan is a police investigator in Ontario. In her teens she shot and killed a short-term boyfriend after he ran away and left her to be beaten by a gang wanting to settle a score with the boyfriend. Casey now goes from therapist to therapist to spill the story under the cover of doctor-patient confidentiality.
Her best friend Diana is in a troubled relationship with a man who repeatedly shows up in her life only to end up physically abusing her. After Diana receives a beating in Casey’s apartment, where she’s been hiding while Casey is at work, she decides this is the last straw. Diana tells Casey that she’s heard rumors of a place in one of the north territories that harbors people whose lives are in danger. Casey assumes this is only rumor until Diana arranges for an interview with some representatives of the village.
Diana and Casey learn that there’s a mysterious corporation that offers the protection of a small town where the closest populated area is Dawson City. After some tensions with the interviewers the corporation agrees to take on both women for a monetary fee and a trade of services. Casey is especially wanted because of her detective skills.
This is a fairly odd concept, and things get stranger when the two women finally make it to the town. It’s a dinky place in the frozen north surrounded by forests filled with wild animals and … possibly … cannibals. Meanwhile, the two women get immediate attention from a town that his mostly made up of males, many of whom are on the run from something in theirs lives. It also appears that the corporation may be up to something more criminal than protecting the innocent.
In a bookish world filled with American and British mystery writers it was kind of a treat reading a book set in another country by a Canadian author. There are other positives, including Casey’s growing infatuation with the deputy already on duty when Casey takes on her investigative work. There is some romance amidst some killings in the woods that are distinctly not caused by animals. But the book has a few truly far out twists that make a stretched concept too thin for believe. Some other things … corporation, cannibals … are never fully resolved. I may check out another Casey Duncan book to see what she does with the character but don’t believe I’ll give the author many more chances with bizarre twists that come out of the blue.