One of my favourite things about Kelley Armstrong’s work is how well she writes kickass, diverse women characters. This Fallen Prey is no exception — its protagonist Casey Duncan is a half Chinese-Filipino, half Scottish detective who solves crimes in Rockton, a remote town in the wilderness of Canadian mountains. Like many of Armstrong’s heroines, Casey is smart, kickass and just all around awesome, and the men in her life respect her and her abilities without turning her into a special snowflake.
In This Fallen Prey, Oliver Brady, a wealthy, young alleged serial killer, is brought into Rockton to be imprisoned for six months, until he is convinced that his father’s proposal of house arrest is the preferable option. Casey and her boyfriend, town sheriff Eric Dalton protest that Rockton isn’t equipped to provide the level of security required for such a dangerous person (they have one jail cell and Rockton residents who commit crimes are often just sentences to hard labour), and true enough, Brady escapes and there’s evidence that he had help from a Rockton resident.
This Fallen Prey is gripping and thrilling, one of Armstrong’s most exciting page turners yet. I love the moral ambiguity Casey faces in her dealings with Brady. Brady insists he’s innocent and being set up by his stepfather, and Casey can’t figure out what the truth is. When she’s forced to hunt him down and sees the body count rise in his wake, she realizes all too well how an error in her judgement could lead to a vicious killer (whether Brady or otherwise) getting away.
The big reveal was satisfying — it validated a lot of the clues dropped along the way, had its disquieting moments, and pushed Casey’s character towards becoming a better detective. The book ended on a cliffhanger that will hopefully be resolved in the next Casey Duncan book, and I’m definitely liking where Armstrong is taking this series and these characters.
My one caveat is that it would be strongly advisable to read the first two Casey Duncan books before this one. Armstrong plunges us immediately into Rockton and drops in a lot of series characters with minimal introductions. I had read only the first book, City of the Lost, but not the second, and as I read City of the Lost back in 2016, I had completely forgotten much of the background of this town and its residents. I got to know and love the main cast fairly quickly — Casey, Dalton, Anders, the wonderful dog Storm — and some secondary characters Matthias and Isabel. But there were a lot of other series characters who played larger roles in the mystery and I had a hard time keeping them straight. Casey would make a startling realization about a character and I’d have to flip to the beginning to remind myself who this was. Or Casey would reference major traumatic events from a character’s past (that I presume happened sometime in the first two books), and it was hard to keep the back stories straight. So if you have the first two books, I’d highly recommend re-reading them before this one, or if you haven’t read them yet, definitely read them first.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.