Watcher in the Woods (Rockton #4) by Kelley Armstrong
Publication Date: February 5th, 2019
Publisher: Penguin Random House Doubleday Canada
Warning: mild spoilers ahead
Several months ago, Casey Duncan joined the small rural police force in a refuge hidden within the Yukon wilderness. Being a homicide detective in a town full of criminals of all sorts has kept Casey working around the clock during her, so far, short stay. Now Rockton is in need of a surgeon to save one of their own and their only real option is for Casey to reach out to her estranged sister for help.
On top of the fallout surrounding the murder of a council member, the constant questioning of the locals and the council’s motives, along with a whole other slew issues, a US marshal shows up unannounced demanding one of the residents be put in his custody… until, that is, the marshal ends up shot dead. With only a few new residents to consider as suspects, Casey’s sister is among that short list. Is the timing a coincidence or was this more elaborately planned than they could have realized?
I am a sucker for this series, I will say that right off of the bat. I have been a fan of Kelley Armstrong’s for over 15 years but this is easily one of my favourites that she has written. The ironic thing is that I am actually not the biggest fan of thrillers or mysteries for many reasons which includes the fact that the ‘whodunnit’ is never really surprising to me.
That is where this series stands out.
Being that this is book 4, I am fully invested in the town that is Rockton. I have come to know the locals, know that the council is shady as heck and know that Casey and Dalton are #goals. The writing draws you in immediately. As a reader, I get a perfect sense of the surroundings and the atmosphere that comes with a story being set in the Yukon wilderness. I feel the cold, I understand the dangers of the wildlife and everything else that hides within and beyond Rockton. For some reason I always fear that I won’t find certain scenarios believable - or as believable as one can expect of fiction - but interactions never come off as forced and anything that happens in the woods is completely reasonable… not to mention interesting.
Kelley Armstrong continues to ravel and unravel this web of a story as she calls back to small character moments from the past books and gives them more weight. Each time I come across one of these moments, it’s clear to me that either on paper or in her mind, she knows each of her characters inside and out and is completely conscious of every decision they make. You could say “Remember that one seemingly innocuous thing that *fill character name in here* did in book 2? Well it turns out their backstory totally informed on that moment.” And while she is slowly unraveling motivations (and more), she is also delving deeper into what is happening behind the scenes of this town that we’ve come to know. Not to mention the fact that she is planting seeds for things going on within the woods that will definitely come up in future books.
Watcher in the Woods masterfully takes you along for the ride of figuring out who the murderer is and leaves you just as confused and elated right along with Casey. There are twists and turns and all of what you should come to expect but, at one point or another, I could have seen any one of the suspects being the killer.
While all of the twists and turns do their job to plant seeds of doubt and blame, I did get a sense of confusion as I read it because I was not sure where we were at in terms of who the suspect was. This really is me nitpicking though because it could have been purposefully done to lead the reader astray or to give them that sense so that the final reveal was more of a surprise or more earned.
This book has been on my mind all year and now I cannot wait for the 5th book. If the publishing remains on trend, we should be looking for a February/March 2020 release and who knows what kind of chaos is going to come out of Casey having her sister around AND the fallout of one other newcomer in particular.
I, for one, will be eagerly awaiting the next installment… as always