Sunday, 24 March 2019

City of the Lost

City of the Lost by Kelley Armstrong has languished on my Nook for a couple of years. My eldest daughter recommended the series but I completely forgot about it, and even that I had the first book, until I saw Kay's post and a bell went off in my addled brain. I do find that ereaders, Kindles and Nooks (and I have both), are basically gigantic black holes for books though. No matter, I found the ebook and spent last week reading it.

Casey Duncan is a police detective living the city life in Canada (I didn't catch which city, Toronto I assume). She has a secret: she killed someone when she was in her teens. Her friend, Diana, who knows about this, has problems of her own. Her abusive and controlling ex-husband is making life intolerable to the point of violence against her. The two need to escape, move on again, but where? They hear about a place, deep in the Yukon forests, where people who need to escape from something can go. At a price. But 'price' to Casey is not an issue, her parents left her comfortably off when they died.

The town of Rockton is not easy to get into. You need good reasons to get past the ruling council, who don't themselves live there. Casey is helped by the fact that she's a detective and the town is in need of one to assist the sheriff. Eventually the two women manage to get in, Diana going ahead first, Casey following a few weeks later.

On arrival Casey is immediately taken up by the local law-enforcement officers, who are basically the sheriff, Eric Dalton, and Will Anders, a deputy. It's clear from the off that the sheriff is a difficult personality and Casey struggles to get along with him, suspecting that he doesn't trust her. He's in need of help though, as people are disappearing into the forest and dying, killed by persons unknown. Half the town are criminals but also out in the forest live several different kinds of undesirables, some a lot more undesirable than others. The situation is dangerous and highly volatile and Casey's life is further complicated by the fact that her friend, Diana, has managed to get in with a Bad Lot. How can life here in a small town in the Canadian wilderness possibly be more complicated than it was in a large metropolitan city?

Kelley Artmstrong's most famous series is of course 'Women of the Otherworld', a werewolf based horror series. I've tried so hard to like them but with zero success, something about them just doesn't appeal. I like her writing though, she's always very readable, and I've always regretted that I didn't like the Otherworld books, hoping that she might write something else that I like more.

Well she has. This crime based series is much more my thing though it has to be said, it does come really close to 'horror' without actually being of that genre. Armstrong really ramps it up with her hints of 'what's out there in the forest', aided and abetted by descriptions of what happens to people who inadvertently, or otherwise, go wandering off. I know there are plenty of 'winderness horror' books out there, I haven't read any, but I suspect this is possibly an acceptable alternative for wimps like me who don't actually want to be terrified, just mildly alarmed.

For that reason and for a very strong sense of place I have to say I enjoyed the book very much. I'm not so sure about the main characters. I quite liked Casey but wasn't ecstatic over her, same for Sheriff Dalton. I think, like many series, it's necessary to read several books in to really get used to the characters and allow them to grow on you. That's happened to me with a lot of series so I'm happy to persevere. Plus, I'm intrigued to see where the author can go with such a small community as it seems to me that options are limited and I'm not sure that 'quirky wilderness characters' will be enough to keep my interest. We'll see.

City of the Lost is my 4th. book for The 12th. Annual Canadian Book Challenge, which is being hosted by The Indextrious Reader. I suspect I'm not going to complete this. I came to it 4 months late and it being to read 13 books by the end of June, I doubt I'll manage it. What I'll probably do is sign up again and give myself a full year to do it properly. So far though I have visited Quebec, twice, Toronto, and now The Yukon, so that's not bad, but I am hoping to cover all 13 provinces and terrtiories at some stage.

It's also my 10th. book for Bev's Mount TBR 2019 challenge and also qualifies for her Calendar of Crime challenge under the December category 'Author's birth month'.



DesLily said...

I am glad it turned out that you liked it!! That's always a good thing lol. There never seems to be many books that you've read that you haven't enjoyed!

Cath said...

I stop reading them, Pat. LOL! Seriously... getting too old to read to the bitter end when a book is boring me.

TracyK said...

Oh dear, I missed Kay's post about this book and I am always looking for different Canadian authors. This one may be a bit too horrific for me, since you mentioned that, but I may have to try it anyway, just to see. It would be nice if it showed up at the book sale.

I have done the Canadian Book Challenge several years, and I wasn't always successful at reading 13 books, but I figure it is a win if I get some read. I have so many books by Canadian authors. I am doing pretty well this year, although don't know if I will get them all reviewed.

Kay said...

I'm glad you liked this one, Cath. I did like it as well and have now read the second book in the series, A Darkness Absolute. Liked that one even more. The whole concept of Rockton was interesting, but there are definitely secrets abounding. I've read YA books by Armstrong, but this series was my first of her adult books.

Judith said...

Hi Cath,
Last night I visited the Canadian Challenge page--really interesting. It looks like that challenge is a great source of Canadian classic and more recent literature. Thanks for the inspiration. I read one book by a Canadian author this year--The Wolves of Winter, set in the Yukon. The author is a resident of British Columbia. Onward!

Cath said...

Tracy: The book is borderline horror in my opinion. No worse really than many hard-hitting crime novels but I don't usually read that kind of thing so I found it quite chilling.

You're so right... even reading a few Canadian books is a win... it's all knowledge.

Kay: I read the synopsis for the 2nd. book and thought that it actually sounded even better than book 1. I shall get to that soon. Good to hear there're lots of secrets still to be unearthed.

Judith: Yes, I think that books read by people for the Canadian challenge cover all kinds of genres. What I must do is get around to reading some non-fiction for it. I have one or two interesting books. Alternatively I may save them for when I start it again in July.