Author: Kelley Armstrong
Series: Rockton, #3
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)
When Casey Duncan first arrived at Rockton, the off-the-grid, isolated community built as a haven for people running from their pasts, she had no idea what to expect. There are 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 become the town homicide detective. 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 she never thought that she’d have to be responsible for him.
The longer Oliver Brady stays in town, the more people seem to die around him. When evidence begins piling up that someone inside Rockton is working as his accomplice, Casey races to figure out who exactly Brady is and what crimes he’s truly responsible for committing.
I love this series. Kelley Armstrong is one of my favorite authors, and her Rockton series – a divergence from her usual urban fantasies – has been steadily impressing me more and more with each installment. There’s something equal parts haunting and thrilling about the isolated and off-the-grid town of Rockton, a hidden refuge for criminals and victims alike, and it makes for one of the most unique settings I’ve ever encountered in a mystery novel.
The stakes are higher than ever in This Fallen Prey, when the omnipotent Council delivers alleged serial killer Oliver Brady to Rockton’s doorstep with instructions that they’ll need to play babysitter for six months. Rockton, with its single jail cell and limited police force, is hardly equipped to handle the containment of such a dangerous individual. And even if they could safely hold him, should they? How does a town exempt from normal laws serve justice for a crime that was committed elsewhere, a crime they cannot prove even occurred?
I loved the continued theme of what justice means in a setting like Rockton. Only a select few in town, including Detective Casey Duncan and Sheriff Eric Dalton, are aware of the truly revolting nature of Brady’s crimes, making an already impossible situation even harder. Public opinion in the town is cleaved in two – without Casey and Dalton providing a full-disclosure of the allegations, half the town thinks their treatment of Brady is inhumane, while the other half seems ready to execute him on the spot. Tension ratchets up, and Casey and Dalton struggle to straddle a blurry line to placate the residents. I still adore the stability of their relationship and how they challenge one another to be the best versions of themselves, even when doubts about Brady’s guilt and new sinister threats come into play.
In the previous books, there is a much greater focus on life within Rockton and the town’s diverse inhabitants. I had been intrigued and charmed by both, so when it becomes clear early on that This Fallen Prey takes a different approach, I had originally been disappointed. But it quickly surfaces that the Yukon woods themselves are just as nuanced and secretive as some of Rockton’s citizens, and I fell in love with how the majority of the novel takes place outside the town’s boundaries. In this chilling and darkly atmospheric setting, a serial killer may not be the greatest threat Casey comes to face.
This Fallen Prey is one of Kelley Armstrong’s most thrilling novels yet. It’s a complex and multifaceted mystery with plenty of red herrings that contribute to smaller subplots, yet Armstrong’s signature character development is still just as present as ever. It’s clear that the increased focus on Rockton’s surroundings in this installment is meant to set the stage for an eventual clash between their civilization and what lies beyond its borders, and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Casey, Dalton, and the rest of Rockton as they face their next threat.