A Darkness Absolute by Kelley Armstrong
Series: Casey Duncan #2
Published by Minotaur Books
Published on: February 7 2017
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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.
Last year I read CITY OF THE LOST more out of duty than expectation of loving it. Armstrong writes several of my favorite urban fantasy series and has been an auto-buy author for over a decade, but I had limited success with her last mystery series (NADIA STAFFORD), so I was prepared to feel pretty MEH about it . . .
In CITY OF THE LOST, we learned about Casey’s inner darkness. In A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE, we watch as she begins to come to terms with it. Once again, she finds herself in a cave with Anders, completely devoid of light, and once again, it makes her introspective:
Absolute dark and absolute clarity, reaching into the darkness inside me. But there seems to be nothing dark in Anders. I know better know. It took some time fore me to comes to terms with his past. And then more time to realize that the person I’d befriended wasn’t a mask he wore in Rockton. It’s all him, the dark and the light.
And if Anders can be both darkness and light, perhaps she can as well.
But there’s more to this follow-up than self-discovery. There’s also another creeptastic mystery to solve. *shudders*
I’d thought Armstrong had hit the ceiling of creepy with her potentially cannibalistic mountain people, but she destroys her previous record when Casey finds the remains of two women shoved into a crevice of the aforementioned cave . . . In addition to the still living woman . . . A woman who had disappeared from Rockton over a year ago . . . A woman thought to be dead, b/c a woman of her general description had been found WEARING HER CLOTHES after the spring thaw . . .
I won’t detail the horrors Nicole Chavez endured while held captive in that cave, but there are few reasons a man would do such a thing, so if that type of scenario is unacceptable to you when picking out your next read, you have been warned.
That being said, Armstrong doesn’t give too much detail either. She doesn’t need to, so she doesn’t, and I appreciated the deft handling of such a horrific reality.
B/c it is horrific. And an almost palpable dread seeps from the pages into the reader when Casey becomes the mystery man’s new target. *shudders violently*
(Thankfully) A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE isn’t all horror and dread.
Eric and Casey provide blessed relief from the mounting tension as they stumble haplessly through the the early dance steps of a new relationship, neither of them having much experience with such things. I compared Eric to Clay Danvers in my review of CITY OF THE LOST, and the comparison remains apt. In his entirely human way, he is as devoted to Casey as Clay is to Elena, and his fumbles are equally adorable.
A DARKNESS ABSOLUTE is the second installment of Kelley Armstrong’s CASEY DUNCAN series, and it’s the best book I’ve read . . . in ages. I’m not content to say, “this year,” b/c it’s too early for that to hold much weight, and it’s a truly stellar book. Casey’s experience may be one I can’t personally relate too, but her struggles and doubts resonate in a very personal way, and the horrors of the mystery she must solve are tempered by the growing relationships with the residents of her new home. I cannot recommend this series more highly. Read it, read it NOW.
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