8.8/101 Votes Alchetron
4.8/5 Barnes & Noble
Publisher St. Martin's Press
Page count 416
Originally published 28 July 2015
Followed by A Darkness Absolute
|Country Canada and United States|
Genres Crime Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Countries Canada, United States of America
Similar Kelley Armstrong books, Crime Fiction books, Police books
City of the Lost is a 2016 crime fiction novel written by Kelley Armstrong. It follows homicide detective Casey Duncan in the hidden Rockton, a small, off-the-grid town in the wilderness of the Canadian Yukon where people go when they wish to disappear. After fleeing to the town with her best friend Diana, Casey begins to investigate a string of grisly murders as she attempts to uncover the killer in their midst. It was published in May 2016.
At age eighteen, Casey Duncan is attending police college to become a detective, much to the disapproval of her parents, who are both prominent doctors. She is dating Blaine Saratori, a small-time drug dealer who brags he is the grandson of a mobster in Montreal. Her high school friend Diana is attending a nearby community college and living with her. One night as Casey and Blaine cut through an alley after leaving a bar, several gang members attack them and accuse Blaine of trespassing on their turf. After their leader threatens Casey, she disarms them, expecting Blaine to grab the gun so they can escape. Instead, he runs away and she is presumably raped after being beaten unconscious. Several weeks later, after waking from a four-day coma, Casey seeks out Blaine who she blames for leaving her for dead and not calling the police, as she was only found hours after the attack by a drunken stranger. He has since denied abandoning her, claiming they split up. When he continues to refuse to apologize or take responsibility for his actions, she shoots him in the heat of the moment, killing him. Afterwards, she throws away the gun and calls 911 anonymously, giving a description of the gang members. She is never caught.
Twelve years later, Casey is a detective with the Special Victims Unit. Her parents died in a small plane crash years ago. She has developed a bizarre game of Russian roulette in which she tells her therapists what she has done, believing that if she deserves to be caught, she will be. Casey is still friends with Diana, as their relationship was strengthened after Diana remained with her after her attack and has kept the secret of Blaine's murder since she confessed after Diana found her changing out of her bloodstained clothing. Diana has since married and divorced Graham Berry, her abusive ex-husband, a respected lawyer and "brilliant psycho," who often beat Diana, once attempting to kill her. Casey moved with Diana when she relocated to escape him and is in a relationship based on casual sex with an ex-con bartender named Kurt. One night at his bar after work, Diana tells Casey that Graham is in town in business and sought her out, trying to convince her to return to him and asking her to dinner. Her arm is badly bruised from where he grabbed her in the parking garage afterwards. Casey finds Graham the next day and warns him to stay away from Diana, threatening him with a statutory rape charge from his past. Convinced she has scared him off after Diana tells Casey he has left, Casey instructs Diana to lie low and stay in her apartment for the next few days. Diana tells Casey of a town she has heard about where people who wish to disappear can go, located deep in the Yukon wilderness and completely off-the-grid. Casey dismisses it as an urban legend, but Diana insists it is real.
She spends that night with Kurt, who has been getting strange phone calls he believes are connected to his life as a criminal. That combined with Casey believing someone is stalking her prompt her to follow after Kurt when he leaves at two in the morning to make a deposit. She narrowly saves him; a man shoots him in the shoulder, telling him he was sent by Mr. Saratori before running away. He is hospitalized but in no serious danger and Casey realizes that her most recent therapist must have told someone what she had done and Blaine's grandfather, Leo Saratori is after her.
When she returns to her apartment, she finds Diana badly beaten. She claims Graham returned and hurt her in return for Casey's threats. Casey agrees to let Diana look into the mysterious town and they are soon contacted by its members, who instruct them to send identification and information and evidence on their situation for an extensive screening process to be granted admission. A few days later they meet with two people: a secretarial woman named Val, and a man from the town's local law enforcement who demands to interview Casey separately. The reason she and Diana were ever considered, he tells Casey, is because he is the sheriff and is in need of a detective. But he has figured out that she is responsible for Blaine's murder and does not want her; furthermore he does not believe Diana's story. Eventually, Casey convinces him to agree to a deal: if he allows them into the town, she will leave as long as Diana is allowed to stay. They are given four days to create fake trails before their disappearance. Diana leaves before Casey, who spends a last night with Kurt at an inn, where he gifts her a necklace. She leaves a note for him before she leaves to meet the sheriff. He finally introduces himself as Eric Dalton and reiterates their deal: she will stay six months in the town, which he calls Rockton, otherwise the Council will not let Diana in, as she isn't useful. They drive for several hours before flying in a plane, which he pilots himself. No contact is allowed while they are in Rockton; Casey's cell phone is confiscated and she is disallowed to answer a last message from Kurt.
When they arrive in Rockton, Casey immediately meets several residents of the town. Will Anders is Dalton's handsome and friendly deputy, a former soldier who takes an immediate shine to Casey. Beth Lowry is the town doctor and Isabel owns the Roc, a local bar. Several residents of Rockton abuse a locally manufactured drug called rydex, as Casey learns. Dalton believes Hastings, a chemist in the town is responsible for making it more addictive. Meanwhile, the body of a missing man, Henry Powys is found in the woods, missing its legs. Initially, it is believed animals were responsible but it is soon determined the legs were hacked off by a human.
Casey is reunited with Diana who has become much more cheerful since she arrived in Rockton. She is partying, mingling, and even dating a few men in town as men outnumber women three to one. Because of the high concentration of men compared to women and the fact they live in such an isolated environment, rates of sexual assault are high. Hastings is seen walking into the forest before going missing and Casey, Dalton, and Anders hunt the forest for him. They find a skull nailed to a tree, but no sign of Hastings.