Note: Slight spoilers for previous books in this series.
This is the sixth installment of an unusual detective series that is set in the fictional town of Rockton, a hidden place in the Yukon that takes in people on the run. Casey Duncan, a homicide detective in the town, is now married to its sheriff, Eric Dalton.
This episode begins with the discovery of an injured hiker who speaks a different language but manages to convey she is possibly the only survivor of an attack by “hostiles.” Over the years, residents from Rockton have relocated into the wilderness for various reasons. Rockton people refer to most of them as “settlers,” but some are known as “hostiles” or “wild people.” Those in the latter group are primitive and dangerous, fueled by a hallucinogenic “tea” they drink.
It happens that the newest arrival to Rockton, Jay, speaks Danish, which he identifies as the same language as the injured woman. Jay helps interpret as April, Casey’s sister who works in their small hospital, tries to save the woman. But soon there are more injured; a member of Rockton’s mysterious governing council arrives; and the whole situation gets considerably more complicated.
Casey and Eric not only need to negotiate with outside settlers and hostiles. They must also navigate the rocky shoals of council politics, and learn why the council has stopped granting extensions of stay to residents requesting them. Indeed, suddenly the council is sending sending fewer new people to Rockton. Certainly there can’t be less people on the run; they need to figure out what is going on, since it affects everyone’s future in Rockton.
Evaluation: As always, Armstrong ends with a tense run-up with everyone in danger, and with almost everyone under suspicion. Armstrong is one of my favorite authors, and I enjoy all of her work.
Published by Minotaur Books, St. Martin’s Publishing Group, 2020