Watcher in the Woods by Kelley Armstrong
Published by: Doubleday Canada
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
Page Count: 416
The secret town of Rockton has seen some rocky times lately; understandable considering its mix of criminals and victims fleeing society for refuge within its Yukon borders. Casey Duncan, the town’s only detective on a police force of three, has already faced murder, arson and falling in love in less than the year that she’s lived there. Yet even she didn’t think it would be possible for an outsider to find and cause trouble in the town she’s come to call home.
When a US Marshal shows up in town demanding the release of one of the residents, Casey and her boyfriend, Sheriff Dalton, are skeptical. But then, only hours later, the marshal is shot dead and the only visible suspects are the townspeople and her estranged sister, in town for just the weekend. It’s up to Casey to figure out who murdered the marshal, and why they would kill to keep him quiet.
“The Yukon isn’t an easy place to live—with long, dark winters that never seem to end—but it is a place that people choose. A place that seduces. I don’t need my sister to be seduced, but I want her to see the magic.”
As a series expands, sometimes you aren’t sure if you’ll stick with it, or you’ll fall out of love with it. The Rockton series is one that will always deserve its spot on my bookshelf. I’ve stayed with it from almost the beginning. Each new sequel reminds me of the spark I found when I first discovered Rockton. And Kelley’s writing only improves with every novel. So for the author’s dedicated following, Watcher in the Woods will be a treat for them.
In this fourth installment, Casey Duncan, ex-cop and the town’s only detective, and her boyfriend and Sheriff, Eric Dalton, can’t seem to find any semblance of normality. When the council has assured them every candidate in town is not a threat, another danger appears. When a US Marshall discovers the town of Rockton, which shouldn’t exist but does, and demands to take one of the residents, both Casey and Eric must uncover the real truth, while they race against time to save their friend’s life.
Now, I don’t follow suspense and thriller series. But Kelley has changed my mind on several occasions, and I’m glad I took the chance with Rockton. After the explosive cliffhanger from This Fallen Prey, I knew Watcher in the Woods would be one of my most anticipated reads for the year. And I loved being back in the Yukon with deeply flawed characters who some only want to find solace and peace. This entire series is a captivating character study of humanity.
So I wouldn’t hesitate long in reading the fourth book. Kelley intertwines reality, fiction, and the human condition and crafts an intricate storyline worth telling. She has mastered storytelling. And I love her for how she has transformed into a seasoned writer. With this sequel though, I feel some details were rushed. I wanted a resolution to the cliffhanger. However, she has opened up a new direction for the last sequel.
No one can persuade me to stop loving Casey. Feeling like the forgotten, reckless child, she has finally found someone and someplace to call home. The way she solves a murder or another crime makes question every single detail of the novel, the townspeople, and the council. Even though Kelley throws you one development after another, I was expecting for more conflict with the latter and the Hostiles, who were once Rockton residents, but they turned more primitive while in the wild.
She needs to tap into that vast potential waiting to be uncovered. But Kelley still drops you in an atmospheric town steeped in corruption. Each character plays a role. And both Casey and Eric need to understand who is who. Now, one unsuspecting twist is the arrival of Casey’s sister, April, who’s tasked with healing an injured resident.
If you’re a fan of the ultimate whodunit mystery, complex characters, and thrilling writing, don’t miss this series. I can only imagine how she’ll end this enthralling series.