There have always been stories of cities lost to the mists of time and history, Camelot, El Dorado, Z and others. Did they ever exist? Maybe. But if you are a certain type person, a criminal, a victim, a killer with money you might have heard of another town that offers sanctuary. Not a glamorous town by any means, the living is harder than you can imagine, but Rockton does exist. If you meet the stringent requirements of need and/or money you might get in.

A homicide detective, Casey Duncan and her best friend Diana, a victim of spousal abuse are accepted grudgingly, very grudgingly by Sheriff Eric Dalton. According to Dalton he doesn’t want them, but the ruling council insists because Rockton needs a homicide detective-even one who has committed murder herself. Casey won’t come without Diana.

Dalton runs Rockton with an iron hand. The most important rule, one that incurs severe punishment is you don’t go into the woods by yourself. Sometimes the punishment is administered by Sheriff Dalton, sometimes by the woods. There are scary people in the woods. There are apex predators in the woods because Rockton is located in the Yukon.

People are dying in ugly torturous ways in the woods, deaths inflicted by humans. It is Casey’s job to find the killer and determine if it a resident or one of the many who live in the woods.

The inhabitants of Rockton are scarred in their own way, even the killers who buy their way in. Once they arrive in Rockton they have to re-invent themselves. Casey is one of the few who can stay true to herself and maybe start to forgive herself. Casey begins to realize the sheriff is different for a reason. She begins to forge warm friendships with Deputy Will Anders and Doctor Beth. Eventually she begins to be more accepting of the local madam, Isabel.

I loved that when misunderstandings occurred they were actually resolved in a reasonable amount of time by adults communicating.

Ah, the woods, possibly the most interesting character in the book. Rockton is not far behind but I will instead leave it as a fascinating setting.

There is not a character in the book that I did not find compelling.

There are numerous surprises that await Casey and the reader. Well done surprises, not from out of left field.

There are romances. One of which is just about the sweetest I’ve come across in a long time. Sweetest and damn hot too.

For the love of all that is holy can not the denizens of Rockton learn the meaning of a locked door
or a closed door, or of people not actually answering a door due to sleeping or ummm, something like that. The Sheriff needs to rectify that lack of knowledge of boundaries soonest with himself as first pupil. It was good to see a bit of lightness shed on all the darkness of Rockton.

Here is my deep dark secret; I’ve already read this book three times since it came out. I am just fascinated by every aspect of it. Thank goodness there is an equally wonderful second book, A Darkness Absolute that is already out.

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