Category Archives: Kelley Armstrong

Review: A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong

Title: A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong
A Rip Through Time Book One
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Historical, Time-Travel, Mystery
Length: 346 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In this series debut from New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, a modern-day homicide detective finds herself in Victorian Scotland—in an unfamiliar body—with a killer on the loose.

MAY 20, 2019: Homicide detective Mallory Atkinson is in Edinburgh to be with her dying grandmother. While out on a jog one evening, Mallory hears a woman in distress. She’s drawn to an alley, where she is attacked and loses consciousness.

MAY 20, 1869: Housemaid Catriona Mitchell had been enjoying a half day off, only to be discovered that night strangled and left for dead . . . exactly one hundred and fifty years before Mallory is strangled in the same spot.

When Mallory wakes up in Catriona’s body in 1869, she must put aside her shock and adjust quickly to her new reality: life as a housemaid to an undertaker in Victorian Scotland. She soon discovers that her boss, Dr. Gray, also moonlights as a medical examiner and has just taken on an intriguing case, the strangulation of a young man, similar to the attack on herself. Her only hope is that catching the murderer can lead her back to her modern life . . . before it’s too late.

In A Rip Through Time, New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong introduces a brand-new series mixing mystery, romance, and fantasy with thrilling results.

Review:

A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong is an outstanding time-travel mystery.

In 2019, Vancouver Homicide Detective Mallory Atkinson is in Scotland to be with her beloved nan who is dying. While taking a much-needed break, Mallory is strangled in an alley and inexplicably travels back in time to 1869 Victorian Scotland. She awakens in the body of housemaid Catriona Mitchell who was murdered in the same place as Mallory’s attack. Unable to figure out how to return to her own life, Mallory uses the excuse of her head injury to explain her “memory loss” about herself and her day-to-day activities. She also uses her modern-day policing knowledge to assist her boss, undertaker Dr. Duncan Gray and his friend Detective Hugh McCreadie, as they work together to solve the murder of a crime beat reporter. Mallory also makes a shocking discovery that will pit her skills against a diabolical killer.

Mallory is an intelligent woman who utilizes numerous skills as she attempts to convince those around her that she is Catriona. But as she has little information about the young woman whose body she inhabits, Mallory  missteps and mistakes t are quite noticeable. She also cannot contain her curiosity about the murders that Gray and McCreadie are trying to solve. Mallory finds an unanticipated ally in Gray’s half-sister Isla Ballantyne who is very much ahead of her time.

A Rip Through Time is an intriguing historical mystery with an ingenious storyline. Mallory is a vibrantly developed protagonist who makes the best of her very unusual circumstances. Duncan, Isla and Hugh are wonderfully drawn secondary characters who are quite appealing. The investigations evenly paced and very interesting. The time period and place are vividly life-like and realistically depicted.  Old and new fans of Kelley Armstrong are sure to enjoy this first installment in the A Rip Through Times series.

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Review: The Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong

Title: The Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong
A Rockton Novel
Casey Duncan Series Book Seven
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspese
Length: 345 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

#1 New York Times bestseller Kelley Armstrong returns to the captivating town of Rockton in The Deepest of Secrets, the next installment in one of the most imaginative crime series on shelves today.

“This is a series that covers all the bases.” St. Louis Post Dispatch

It’s not always easy to live in the hidden town of Rockton, something Detective Casey Duncan knows firsthand. Tucked away in the Yukon wilderness, the community survives—and thrives—because the residents’ many secrets stay just that—secret.

But what happens when these secrets start to come out? Overnight, no one is safe. It’s not a question of if your secret will come out—but when.

Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, need to find the culprit while protecting those who have been thrust into the spotlight. For a place built on privacy and new beginnings, Rockton isn’t handling these revelations very well. People are turning on one another, and when one of the loudest complainers turns up barely alive, it’s clear that their trickster is actually a murderer.

The threat of exposure is reaching its breaking point, and no one knows what’s going to happen next.

Review:

The Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong is a spellbinding mystery that is also a little bittersweet. Although this newest release is the seventh novel in the Casey Duncan/Rockton series, it can be read as a standalone. However, I highly recommend the previous mysteries in the series.

Detective Casey Duncan and her common law husband Sheriff Eric Dalton have been certain the remote town council is planning to shut down Rockton. While waiting for the announcement, they, along with Deputy Will Anders and a few other townspeople, are making contingency plans for what they will do in the aftermath. In the midst of their concern about their future, someone is attempting to make trouble for Will. In a town with people hiding the truth about their pasts and identities, Will’s secret has just been revealed. With the residents taking sides, Casey sets out to find out not just who, but how, this person uncovered the truth. And she hopes to prevent anymore revelations that will divide the town and sow distrust of those in charge of keeping the peace.

Casey’s mind is whirling with worries as she begins her investigation. She is already aware that information about the residents is kept tightly under wraps. Will’s past is known to a select few, so she methodically begins questioning people who appear to be deliberately trying to raise doubts about her, Eric and Will. In the aftermath of a break in at Will’s place, Casey’s beloved dog, Storm, leads her to her first suspect.

The Deepest of Secrets is a clever mystery set in the wilds of Canada’s Yukon Territory.  Casey, Eric and Will are fighting hidden enemies both in Rockton and the distant town council. Throughout the investigation, the possibility of  the town closing looms large. Although the council is uninterested in finding the person or persons responsible for the revelations and unexpected violence, Casey continues trying to uncover the truth. Alongside shifting loyalties within the town, Casey and Eric are relentless as they attempt to complete their investigation. With one final edge of the seat scene, Kelley Armstrong brings this final installment in the Casey Duncan/Rockton series to a thrilling conclusion.

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Review: A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong

Title: A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong
Casey Duncan Series Book Six
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 359 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In the next riveting thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong, the paranoia increases – along with the stakes – as the town of Rockton tries to solve the latest mystery at their door.

Detective Casey Duncan has noticed fewer and fewer residents coming in to the hidden town of Rockton, and no extensions being granted. Her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, presumes it’s the natural flux of things, but Casey’s not so sure. It seems like something bigger is happening in the small town they call home.

When an injured hiker stumbles from the woods, someone who seems to have come to the Yukon for a wilderness vacation but instead is now fighting for her life, it’s all hands on deck. What – or who – attacked this woman, and why?

With the woman unconscious, and no leads, Casey and Eric don’t know where the threat is coming from. Plus, the residents of their deeply secretive town are uneasy with this stranger in their midst. Everyone in Rockton wants this mystery solved – and fast.

Review:

A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong is a riveting mystery that is quite suspenseful. Although this newest release is the sixth installment in the Casey Duncan series, it can be read as a standalone.

Sheriff Eric Dalton and Detective Casey Duncan are surprised when they cross paths with a frightened, injured woman in the forest surrounding Rockton. She does not speak English, but one their new residents, Jay, is able to translate for them. She is not able to give them much information other than she and her companions were attacked by a “wild man”. After Casey’s sister April stabilizes the victim, they transfer her back to Rockton to care for her. Casey and Eric leave to search for the other people in the group and they are stunned by what they discover.

In their personal and professional lives, Casey and Eric are doing well. But Casey still struggles with feeling comfortable with telling Dalton her theories as they work on their latest case. This is not because of anything he has said or done. It is due to her past experiences with her parents and former co-workers. Casey is improving and she realizes what she is doing and reveals her thoughts on their cases. Casey is an extremely intelligent woman with keen instincts and she continues to teach Eric the intricacies of police investigations.

Dalton and Casey have little doubt the attack on the Danish tourists was perpetrated by the Hostiles. Before they can make progress on finding out exactly what happened, they discover three more murders that appear to be similar to their other case. Just as they are hoping to return to their investigation, unexpected visitors turn up in Rockton. Although they are not spending much time working their cases, Casey is starting to put the pieces of the various puzzles together.  Answers to some very important questions reinforce her theories, but what exactly is the endgame? And what will she and Eric do once the answers become clear?

A Stranger in Town is a compelling mystery with a clever storyline and a fantastic cast of eclectic characters. Casey and Eric continue to grow and evolve individually and as a couple. Their investigations are interesting and move quickly despite the obstacles that interrupt their quest for evidence.  With stunning twists and turns, Kelley Armstrong brings this suspense-laden mystery to a jaw-dropping conclusion. Old and new fans of the Casey Duncan series are going to love this latest installment.

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Review: Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong

Title: Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong
Casey Duncan/Rockton Series Book Five
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 369 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In #1 New York Times bestseller Kelley Armstrong’s latest thriller, the hidden town of Rockton is about to face a challenge none of them saw coming: a baby.

Every season in Rockton seems to bring a new challenge. At least that’s what Detective Casey Duncan has felt since she decided to call this place home. Between all the secretive residents, the sometimes-hostile settlers outside, and the surrounding wilderness, there’s always something to worry about.

While on a much needed camping vacation with her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, Casey hears a baby crying in the woods. The sound leads them to a tragic scene: a woman buried under the snow, murdered, a baby still alive in her arms.

A town that doesn’t let anyone in under the age of eighteen, Rockton must take care of its youngest resident yet while solving another murder and finding out where the baby came from – and whether she’s better off where she is.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong again delivers an engaging, tense thriller set in perhaps the most interesting town in all of contemporary crime fiction.

Review:

Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong  is a fast-paced and compelling mystery. Although this  latest release is the fifth installment in the Casey Duncan /Rockton series, it can easily be read as a standalone. However, I highly recommend the previous books as well.

After months of little crime, Detective Casey Duncan and her boyfriend Sheriff Eric Dalton take off a few days to camp in the woods by themselves. But when Casey hear an unexpected sound in the forest, she, along with her dog Storm, are hot on the trail. When her instincts prove to be correct, she makes two stunning discoveries: a murdered “hostile” and a very much alive baby. Who does the baby belong to? But most importantly, who killed the woman protecting the infant?

Despite not allowing anyone under the age of eighteen,  Casey and Eric are granted permission to keep the baby in Rockton until they locate her family. Casey has mixed feelings about caring for the baby and she is surprised by how easily Dalton steps into a foster father role. Despite her conflicted emotions, the couple juggle childcare duties with their search for the baby’s family.

Although solving the murder is not within her jurisdiction, Casey cannot help but ask probing questions as their investigation takes them out into the surrounding wilderness.  With little interaction with the two settlements and “hostiles”, there is not much doubt the baby is most likely from one of these areas. Their first inquiry provides an interesting lead, but both Casey and Eric have doubts about the motivation for these revelations.  They feel obligated to check out the information but they are also keeping an open mind as they continue asking questions within the other settlements around them.

After stumbling across former Rockton resident Maryanne, Casey seizes the chance to find out more about the woman who has recently escaped from the hostiles. Maryanne is fragile but she is finally ready to tell much of her story. Dalton and Casey learn invaluable information about the tactics used by the hostiles to keep their group under control.   Will these new details help them on their quest for the baby’s family?

Alone in the Wild is a fascinating mystery with a clever storyline, a cast of eccentric but likable characters and a beautiful but harsh setting. Casey and Eric continue to grow and evolve as they balance their close relationship with law enforcement duties. With much of the investigation taking place outside of Rockton, this fascinating peek into the various groups offers intriguing insight into the dynamics and beliefs of each settlement.  Kelley Armstrong  brings this multi-layered  mystery to a poignant but completely satisfying conclusion. Old and new fans of the outstanding Casey Duncan /Rockton series are sure to enjoy this latest outing.

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Filed under Alone in the Wild, Casey Duncan Series, Contemporary, Kelley Armstrong, Minotaur Books, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Rockton Series, Suspense

Review: This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong

Title: This Fallen Prey by Kelley Armstrong
Casey Duncan Series Book Three
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

In This Fallen Prey, the next installment of New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong’s thriller series, Casey Duncan is about to face her toughest job as police detective in Rockton yet.

When Casey first arrived at the off-the-grid town, an isolated community built as a haven for people running from their pasts, she had no idea what to expect, with no cell phones, no internet, no mail, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. She certainly didn’t expect to be the homicide detective on two separate cases or to begin a romantic relationship with her boss. But the very last thing she expected was for the council to drop a dangerous criminal into their midst without a plan to keep him imprisoned, and to keep others safe.

Of course Oliver Brady claims he’s being set up. But the longer Brady stays in town, the more things start to go wrong. When evidence comes to light that someone inside Rockton might be working as his accomplice, helping him to escape, Casey races to figure out who exactly Brady is and what crimes he’s truly responsible for committing.

In the next page-turning entry in Kelley Armstrong’s gripping series, life in Rockton is about to get even more dangerous.

Review:

In This Fallen Prey, Kelley Armstrong’s latest novel set in the remote off the grid town of Rockton, Detective Casey Duncan and Sheriff Eric Dalton are blindsided when an extremely dangerous criminal is literally dropped in their midst without warning.

With nothing but a letter from the council detailing his savage crimes, Casey and Eric are tasked with guarding Olivier Brady for the next six months. Not only does Rockton lack a secure facility to house him, but Casey and Eric attempt to keep depravity of his crimes under wraps in order to minimize the residents’ reaction to Brady’s incarceration. Rockton’s citizens are divided on the police force’s handling of the prisoner and half of the town thinks he might be innocent while the other half are demanding immediate punishment. Before work on secure building is completed, Brady manages to escape with a hostage. Casey and Eric immediately send out search parties but will they recapture Brady before it is too late?

Before Oliver escapes, Casey cannot quite decide whether or not his protestations of innocence are the truth.  She remains highly suspicious he is attempting to manipulate everyone into letting down their guard. She also tries to isolate him from Rockton’s residents but key members of the militia want to ensure the prisoner receives fair treatment. The situation quickly careens out of control and Casey and Eric are then forced onto the defensive after Brady is on the run.

With very limited resources and no way to contact anyone outside of Rockton, Casey and Eric must rely on their skills and trusted townspeople to search their escaped prisoner who has quickly disappeared into the surrounding forest. They are not only battling the elements as they try to locate him; they must also contend with the first settlers and the Hostiles. Various residents make dubious choices and there is plenty of self-doubt and self-recrimination when things go wrong. Underlying all of these issues is the question of whether or not Oliver is guilty of the atrocious crimes he is accused of committing. Casey and Eric encounter more problems with the unexpected arrival of more outsiders and Oliver’s guilt or innocence becomes even more murky.

This Fallen Prey is another intricately plotted mystery that is full of shocking twists and turns. The storylines becomes rather convoluted at times but there is plenty of action to keep readers glued to the pages. The town of Rockton is on the periphery of the unfolding drama since most of the hunt for Oliver takes place in the forest surrounding the enclave.  Kelley Armstrong skillfully builds the tension to a fever pitch as Casey and Eric frantically try to recapture a wily and potentially dangerous felon.  While the main mystery is solved by novel’s end, a few dangling threads will leave fans impatiently awaiting the next installment in the Casey Duncan series.

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Review: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong

Title: A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
Casey Duncan Series Book Two
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery
Length: 416 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley

Summary:

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.

Review:

A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong is an engrossing mystery with an unusual setting, unique characters and a fantastic storyline.  This second novel in the Casey Duncan series can be read as a standalone, but to fully understand some aspects of the story, I highly recommend reading book one, City of the Lost, first.

Four months after arriving in Rockton, an off the grid, isolated town in the Yukon territory, Casey (Duncan) Butler is much more settled into her new life and unexpected relationship with Sheriff Eric Dalton.   With her first winter in Rockton upon her, she and  Deputy Will Anders are taken off guard by the sudden blizzard that strikes while they are searching for Shawn Sutherland, a resident suffering from cabin fever.  Too far from town to risk returning home, Casey and Will hunker down in a cave to wait out the raging storm where they unexpectedly find a woman whom it appears is being held against her will in the cave.  The captive is none other than Nicole Chavez, who was declared dead soon after vanishing from Rockton over a year earlier. 

Nicole is unable to identify her kidnapper and when Casey, Eric and Will return to the cave to look for evidence, they discover the remains of two other women who went missing from Rockton.  The facts of the case indicate the person responsible for the abductions is most likely one of the settlers or hostiles who live in the vast wilderness outside the town’s borders.  With their investigation complicated by the isolation, their lack of technology and the harsh elements, will Casey and Eric find the murderer before another woman goes missing?

Residing in a town where everyone has a criminal past, trying to find suspect for the kidnappings and murders would seem to an impossible task.  But with a relatively high turnover of residents, Casey and Eric find it fairly easy to narrow down their list of potential perpetrators.  With only a handful of people to investigate, the process of elimination leaves them with only one logical conclusion: no one in town could have kidnapped all three victims therefore the person responsible HAS to be an outsider.  While this means their search for murderer is now a  much more daunting task, they know they have to find the killer in order to protect the women who live in Rockton.

As the only member of the small police force with law enforcement experience in the “outside” world, Casey is an expert at gathering,  preserving and interpreting evidence.  While some of this evidence is not of much use since they have little in way of technology, her expertise coupled with her keen insights and finely honed instincts prove to be her most valuable assets.   Casey routinely pieces together the seemingly incongruent clues to come up with plausible scenarios about the circumstances of what happened in the caves but she is also struggling to come up with viable suspects in the case. 

Since Eric is a longtime resident of Rockton,  he has a few useful contacts outside the town borders he can reach out to for help.  His younger brother, Jacob, provides helpful information and while they have a good relationship, it is a little fraught due to their complicated past.  Things are occasionally tense between Casey and Jacob because of his embarrassment over a previous incident between.  Eric also seeks help from Ty Cypher, who was a previously part of Rockton’s law enforcement team but does he have information that will help them during their investigation?

A Darkness Absolute is a fast-paced police procedural with an intriguing storyline and a stellar cast of characters. Kelley Armstrong brings the Yukon wilderness and the harsh weather conditions vibrantly to life.  The plot is well-developed and the investigation into the kidnappings is quite fascinating.  With unexpected twists and turns, the novel comes to a stunning and action-filled conclusion.  This latest installment of the Casey Duncan series will leave fans  eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

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