A Darkness Absolute

Kelley Armstrong's A Darkness Absolute opens with Detective Casey Duncan (City of the Lost) pursuing a resident in her adopted town of Rockton, a hideaway for people who don't want to be found. The runner has fled, in a blizzard, into the forbidden surrounding woods. Taking shelter until the storm blows over, Casey and sheriff's deputy Will Anders discover a woman who's been held prisoner in a cave for more than a year. Rescuing her, however, is just the beginning of a complex mystery.

The woman can identify her captor only by body type--he always wore a mask in her presence. To Casey's relief, both Dalton--Rockton's sheriff and Casey's lover--and Will are eliminated as suspects. But the perpetrator could be almost every other man in the vicinity, not just Rockton residents but also the people called hostiles who live in the woods. Then Casey and her colleagues find evidence indicating the woman wasn't the first abductee, only the first to survive. And Casey starts noticing signs of someone stalking her. Can she solve the case before becoming the next victim?

Armstrong sustains a paranoid atmosphere throughout, with Casey rarely certain about whom to trust, including the victim. Many of Rockton's residents have violent pasts, and the hostiles are even more disturbing. The town remains a claustrophobic setting that's merciless when Mother Nature unleashes her power, striking with blinding snow and absolute darkness. But Casey is tough, too, and thriller fans will be eager for another trip to Rockton. --Elyse Dinh-McCrillis, blogger at Pop Culture Nerd

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