Fans of Kelley Armstrong’s “Rockton” series will be delighted with the publication of “Murder at Haven’s Rock,” the first book in the sequel series, with many familiar characters. Those of us who read all seven books in that series were heartbroken when the final Rockton book came out last year with the news that the town, a haven for those fleeing society and threats to their safety, was shutting down. Throughout that series, we learned about the tension between those who managed the town, its inhabitants, and the town’s sheriff, Eric Dalton and his wife Casey Duncan.
Now the sheriff, his detective spouse, and a few others are building their own town to their own specifications. It will also be a safe haven for those who need to disappear for a few years, but this time Eric and Casey will be in charge. The workers constructing the town are not told of its purpose, just that it’s for “research.” They have no idea that this is a town where people can pay a large sum of money to disappear. Those who flee to this town, buried in the remote Yukon, stay for several years until whatever the threat that caused them to disappear has dissipated. Those seeking to flee society often have their own problems, and are often not innocent victims, but with new management more vested in doing good than making a profit, everyone hopes that this town will run more smoothly than the now-defunct Rockton.
In this novel, the setting continues to be almost a main character as we feel the danger in the enveloping wilderness that surrounds the town. But the most dangerous creature in the wilderness is, as usual, a hominid who walks on two legs, not four. It’s not the grizzly bears who are the worst threat to the workers and those who venture into the forest; it’s strangers, and maybe even those from the town itself.
The town’s construction isn’t complete, but Casey and Eric are called in when two people disappear. They were seen going into the forest, thus breaking the cardinal rule of Haven’s Rock—you don’t go into the forest. When Casey and Eric investigate, they find a woman’s body. But, of course, all is not as it appears to be, and that’s not the last body they find. Will they be able to unravel the clues in time to protect the innocent from the guilty? Or will there be more casualties resulting from the avarice of someone who might be living among them?
There are twists and turns, and there are new characters who we feel will not leave with the workers when the construction is finally finished. And we learn that instead of giving Casey and Eric time to enjoy their town before new inhabitants are sent, the timetable has changed, and people will be arriving before the town is completely done. Which of the town’s prior residents will be returning? Armstrong shares a bit of that information, but we won’t know it all until the next novel in the series. In the meantime, we can enjoy reading about the new setting, which clearly will be presenting its own set of challenges.
Warning: After reading the mysteries in this series, you may feel compelled to take a vacation to the Yukon to experience the bracing fresh air, the extremely long summer days, and the isolated scenery for yourself. Just don’t try to find the fictional town of Haven’s Rock. Like its Canadian counterpart, Louise Penny’s Three Pines, this is a fabulous, fictional, almost fairytale settlement that you won’t find on any map and that is well-hidden from the air. Enjoy the mystery.
Please note: This review was first posted on Bookreporter.com.