The “Rockton” murder mystery series by Kelley Armstrong has long been popular with mystery fans for many reasons. The setting — a very remote and wild area of the Yukon; the concept — a town where people needing to hide or escape from violence go for a two-year period; the characters — including detective Casey, Eric the sheriff, Mathias the butcher, Isabel, who runs the bar and brothel, and many more townspeople whom we come to know over the course of the novels. While most of the novels in the series can be read as stand alone pieces, that is not as much the case with this one. “The Deepest of Secrets” is the last novel in this gripping series. So it’s perfect timing for those who are looking for a new mystery series to read because they can start from the first book, “City of the Lost,” and immediately read each subsequent novel. There’s something satisfying about not having to wait a year to read the next book in a series.
One of the most important rules about Rockton’s existence is that the real identities and secrets of the inhabitants, and their reasons for coming to Rockton, are hidden from everyone in town. Even Eric, the sheriff, only knows what the council, those who funded and run the town from afar, is willing to tell him. The town was originally created for victims of violence, like people running from abusive spouses, someone worried about being the victim of criminal violence, or people being investigated for their political beliefs. But the council grew greedy. The original founders were replaced by those wanting more profit from the town, and they began admitting those who were running from white collar crime. Lately, Casey and Eric have been convinced that the council was also sending those running from violent crimes—serial killers, violent offenders, abusers.
When a sign is posted in the town square “outing” the tragic and violent past of one member of the town’s police force, Casey and Eric are determined to find out who is responsible for this betrayal of secrets. Everyone in the town has their secrets, and if someone knows some people’s history, that information could be dangerous not only for the one with the information, but also for those whose information is being disclosed. They wonder if the council is behind this revelation because the council had hinted that Rockton is being closed. Will the tumult that ensues make that ultimate aim easier to accomplish?
An attempted murder quickly follows, and then an actual murder occurs. While the council directs that the crimes not be investigated, Eric and Casey follow their moral code and try to find out who the perpetrator is. Although there might not be any punishment because of the circumstances of the town’s closing, they want that person to know that he or she didn’t get away anonymously with the crimes — that they have been discovered. But while there are several possibilities, ultimately Casey fears that she has solved the crime too late.
Armstrong helpfully provides an introduction that gives a summary of important information for those who haven’t read previous books. It’s also a helpful summary for readers who read the last novel a year ago. She is cryptic about whether this is really the end of Casey, Eric, their friends, and the whole Rockton concept. Her tweet about this subject said, “The Deepest of Secrets came out this week! This is book 7 in my Rockton series. Is it the last? Maybe. Kinda. It’s complicated. But if you waited to binge the completed series, this is the time to jump in.” Longtime fans of Armstrong and the series are going to hope that there will be a new series about the new “Rockton,” with some of the same characters. Reading about their lives and their mysteries are just too good to bid adieu to.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.