Casey Duncan is back in this fourth installment of the Rockton saga – a series involving the secluded town and its people in the frozen Yukon of Canada.
Admittedly, Watcher in the Woods is part of my favorite series. It’s got a terrific cast of characters, all of whom are quite flawed or they wouldn’t be in the town of Rockton. Rockton, you see, is a secret, very secluded town for those who need to escape either because they are the worst in society or from the very worst in society. It makes for an eclectic and often frightening mix of personalities. In addition to the town’s people, you have a two group of renegades living (wandering/surviving) in the forest surrounding Rockton: those who are true survivalists who didn’t want to go back down south after their time in Rockton was finished and those who are simply too savage to live anywhere at all. They add an additional layer of worry and suspense to the story line.
Watcher in the Woods takes place approximately 2-3 weeks after the last book which means the characters are still reeling from a murder, a crazed woman whom they intimately trusted and a wounded man who is part of their patrol. They have been without a doctor in the town since the former doctor was killed and they desperately need to get medical help for their resident, Kenny. Secreting away in the night, Casey and the sheriff bring back help but they also bring back more than they bargain for as they are followed by a US Marshall looking for his bounty. He refuses to say who it is or why it is so important that he finds “his man” – or woman. When the Marshall is killed, it becomes imperative that Casey – the town’s only detective – discovers who the Marshall was after and why. More importantly, she has to find out how the Marshall was able to follow them and plug any leaks there might be regarding Rockton’s well kept secret location.
All of the Rockton tales are action packed and full of secrets, double backs and, yes, romance. That is what makes them so entertaining to read. This one, however, was a bit slow for me in the beginning and I suspect that it was because there was a great deal of minutia laid out for readers who might be joining here at book four rather than at the beginning. There was quite a bit of repetitiveness, who’s who, explanations about the town and how it works, which is fine if you are new to the series but by the fourth book in, it was a little tedious. Once that was past, the book was actually better than any of the previous stories. It was more complex, there was more action, an introduction of new characters, two of whom I suspect are going to be key in future books, and quite a few secrets revealed that led to some “aha” moments. All of this had me looking forward to the next book already and forgetting the tedium that had me skimming in the beginning.
If you haven’t read any of this series you should be able to read this one as a stand alone but I highly recommend that you begin at the start and work up to this one. There is a lot of back story and past history that will make it more interesting for you. Then you can join me in skimming over the mundane catch-up in this book but completely enjoying the majority of the rest. It IS a series that I highly recommend. It’s fun, entertaining, suspenseful and, generally, a quick read.
My thanks to #Netgalley, @StMartinsPress, @MinotaurBooks and Kelley Armstrong for my advanced copy of #WatcherintheWoods.