by Edith Cody-Rice
Kelley Armstrong is a best selling Canadian author of the thirteen book Women of the Otherworld series, the Nadia Stafford crime novels and a new series set in the fictional town of Cainsville, Illinois. City of the Lost was recently released as a six part e-serial . Subjects of her past books are the paranormals, especially werewolves for which she has a particular affinity and which have helped make her a New York Times and Globe and Mail best selling author.
City of the Lost is a departure from this genre. It deals with normal humans or, al least, almost normal people. I chose this book largely because it is set in the Yukon, location of the town of the title, is a thriller and deals with Canadian communities like Vancouver and Dawson City. The City of the Lost is a town in the wilderness where those who want to, or more likely, must escape the constraints of civilization can disappear. They pay a fee and are transported to the town where they must learn to survive and live together. Citizens of the town do not know the backgrounds of their fellow internees although they do know that most had done something that made them pariahs or liabilities in the south. It turns out that some people who are “unsuiitable” can buy their way into the town by bribing the absentee council that runs it.
The story is told in the first person by Casey, a police officer who has murdered an ex boyfriend who abandoned her to be beaten by a gang. When the father of her victim appears to be out to kill her, she makes her way to the town but she has applied principally to accompany her friend Diana who is escaping an abusive husband. She is accepted in the town as a detective because gruesome murders are taking place there and finding the culprit is proving a difficult task for the local sheriff. The story revolves around the string of murders, the local characters who make up the town and the mysterious hostiles who are former residents of the town but have escaped into the northern wilderness surrounding it. A small town with a limited number of people who must interact creates a small circle of suspects and intensifies interactions. Characters cannot get away from one another and in this town, they don’t really know who their neighbours really are which causes residents to suspect each other. No one is without blemish.
This book requires a significant suspension of disbelief but is a good thriller to read by the fire on a weekend evening. The ending will be a surprise to most readers.