Thriller Thursday Audio: The Deepest of Secrets by Kelley Armstrong
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Series: Book 7 of Rockton
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (February 15, 2022)
Length: 10 hrs and 4 mins
Narrator: Therese Plummer
So, it appears we have come to the end of the Rockton series, with this seventh and final installment, The Deepest of Secrets. Truthfully, as much as I love these books, I’ve been anticipating this moment for a while now. There are only so many murder mysteries you can wring out of a town like Rockton with its unique circumstances without the stories becoming repetitive or spiraling out of hand. All in all, Kelley Armstrong has done a wonderful job with this series, and, after a shaky intro, this concluding volume has managed to wrap things up quite nicely.
Situated in the Yukon Wilderness, Rockton is a secret town, and a town of secrets. Every one of its residents has a story to tell and are there because they don’t want to be found. They take comfort in the fact that Rockton is a safe haven, that their pasts will remain hidden, but also that the mysterious offsite council managing the town will vet incoming residents and keep the dangerous criminals like murderers and sexual predators.
But now, that trust is shattered. One of Casey’s closest friends Anders is thrust into the spotlight after an anonymously written message revealing his reasons for coming to Rockton is put up for the whole town to see. Overnight, the mood in Rockton changes as everyone becomes paranoid that they might be the next to be exposed. Meanwhile, Casey and her boyfriend Eric do their best to carry on their law enforcing duties, trying to figure out if this case might be a one-off or the worst-case scenario—that somehow, someone had gotten access to resident records.
In the middle of this chaos is also resentment towards Rockton’s council. It appears their vetting process has not been quite so selective after all, allowing killers into their midst. Unfortunately, as the closest thing to authority in Rockton, Casey and Eric are bearing the brunt of the anger, making their jobs all but impossible. The town is falling apart, and Casey can’t help but wonder if this had been the council’s intention all along, as they’ve made it clear they’re looking for any excuse to shut down Rockton.
As I said, I had issues with the first section of the book. It contained several of my pet peeves about this series, namely that later storylines increasingly became more ridiculous, featuring highly contrived and manufactured situations in order to keep things fresh. For one thing, the town’s reaction to Anders’ secret seemed wildly overblown. I mean, considering what they’ve all been through in the last six books, what he did in the past hardly seemed like it would be the worst thing in the residents’ eyes. This creates the impression that autonomy does not exist in Rockton; everyone (other than a handful of named characters) are merely sheep that go along with whatever their friends or neighbors are doing, believing every lie spouted by the town troublemakers.
Thankfully, things gradually improve, mainly because the story shifts gears after someone tries to murder one of the above-said troublemakers. In many ways, the book feels like two stories in one, as we make the transition from a complete farce to a plotline that more resembles a mystery thriller. In addition to that, we had the conspiracy related to the council, and the threat of Rockton’s imminent shutdown. After spending so much time with these characters, I felt as stunned as them over the decision, and being fully involved in their lives, I had to know what would happen to them.
The ending was very surprising, and abrupt. The mystery may have been resolved, but the fates of Casey, Eric, and all the remaining residents of Rockton are left somewhat in the air. With a solid plan under their belts though, I think the author makes it pretty clear that our beloved characters will land on their feet, but it would have been nice to have had an epilogue of some sort to confirm that.
Bottom line though, while The Deepest of Secrets might not have been my favorite of the series, my attachment to these characters should be a clear testament to Armstrong’s talent for mystery storytelling. My love for this series has not changed, and I highly recommend checking out these books from the beginning, especially since some of the earlier ones are among the best. Also, I can’t say enough good things about the audio editions and narrator Thérèse Plummer who has done a phenomenal job throughout the entire series. I first discovered her work when I listened to City of the Lost, the book that started it all, and since then she’s become one of my favorite narrators.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of City of the Lost (Book 1)
Review of A Darkness Absolute (Book 2)
Review of This Fallen Prey (Book 3)
Review of Watcher in the Woods (Book 4)
Review of Alone in the Wild (Book 5)
Review of A Stranger in Town (Book 6)