This Fallen Prey (Rockton #3), by Kelley Armstrong (2018)

Mystery
Adult

This Fallen Prey, by Kelley Armstrong (2018)

Kelley Armstrong is a well-known Canadian author, with a strong backlist in young adult and science fiction. I’ve read her before, but not lately, so when I spotted this on our library’s new book shelf, I picked it up and added it to a growing pile. Turns out it’s the third book in series I have not read. I think it would be best to start with book 1, but in summary, Casey Butler is a deputy in a tiny off-the-grid settlement in the Yukon, where its residents come to stay to escape some kind of threat in the real world. Some of them are there willingly, and others not. She’s in a relationship with Eric Dalton, who is her boss, the town’s sheriff. Both are about 30 years old. The book opens in mid-May when a plane lands and delivers an unexpected “package” – an accused serial killer “sentenced” to stay there instead of facing the law, thanks to a hefty payoff by his stepdad.

But the town isn’t equipped as a high-security jail, and Dalton objects loudly, to no avail. Oliver Brady proclaims he’s innocent, naturally, but he’s now in Rockton’s only jail cell while a secure house is built. Before it’s completed he escapes, setting up the book’s fugitive-killer-on-the-run plotline. Overall, I liked the premise a lot – a group of hardy souls living without electricity or outside contact, but with a regular supply run to keep them in coffee, granola bars, and building supplies. Casey and Eric and the rest of the militia are thoughtful, wary, and generally cautious, and I can see a couple of hints of future plot directions, which I like. I certainly didn’t see the ending coming, another plus. The plotline in this novel, though, really suffered. The writing is simplistic, the protagonists stagger from one dangerous situation to the next, and there are just too many devices (a poisoning, a fire, a murderous hostile, a revenge-fueled First Settlement, a rich pilot) to be credible. It’s a thriller so I expect some of that but it grows tiresome by the end. Also, it’s the Yukon – the setting needs a stronger role here, beyond the threat of a cougar or grizzly bear. Even in May the nights are barely above zero. How about the long hours of daylight? I’m intrigued enough that I’ll pick up the earlier installments, so overall this gets a good rating for the series, but a poorer one for this particular story. My thanks to the Grand Forks & District Public Library for including this title in its adult collection.
More discussion and reviews of this novel: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35614662

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