Book Review

City Under One Roof

City Under One Roof

  • Author: Iris Yamashita
  • Genre: Mystery
  • Publication Date: January 10, 2023
  • Publisher: Berkley Books

Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Books for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

CONTENT WARNING: gore, mention of death, mention of death of a child, blood, grief, mention of domestic violence, gun violence, murder

A stranded detective tries to solve a murder in a tiny Alaskan town where everyone lives in a single high-rise building, in this gripping debut by an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter.

When a local teenager discovers a severed hand and foot washed up on the shore of the small town of Point Mettier, Alaska, Cara Kennedy is on the case. A detective from Anchorage, she has her own motives for investigating the possible murder in this isolated place, which can be accessed only by a tunnel.

After a blizzard causes the tunnel to close indefinitely, Cara is stuck among the odd and suspicious residents of the town—all 205 of whom live in the same high-rise building and are as icy as the weather. Cara teams up with Point Mettier police officer Joe Barkowski, but before long the investigation is upended by fearsome gang members from a nearby native village.

Haunted by her past, Cara soon discovers that everyone in this town has something to hide. Will she be able to unravel their secrets before she unravels?

In a creative twist on a locked room mystery, Yamashita’s debut takes us to a stranded city in Alaska where all of the residents of Point Mettier live in one high-rise building that provides for all their needs, offering a pub with greasy food and questionable lounge entertainment, subpar Chinese takeout, a tiny police station, a general store, and even a psychiatrist. 

But the people who live in this town all seem to have some kind of secret that has drawn them to a place like this. Many are running away from something, and others have something to hide, that they hope will be concealed in this remote place that isn’t easily accessible. There’s only one tunnel in, and winter storms often block it. Something that Anchorage detective Cara Kennedy unfortunately discovers when she comes too late in the season to follow up on the severed hand and foot that washed up on the shores. However, Cara has something that she’s hiding as well. 

If you’ve read enough books, you’ll know that secrets don’t last long in a small enough town, especially one that is snowed in for the winter, and where people don’t have enough to do but worry about what is going on with the neighbors in the building. We get a range of POVs in this story, so we get to see what’s going on through the eyes of an array of characters—the teen girl who found the body parts, Cara, and a mentally ill adult named Lonnie (who has a pet moose). These three women were so different, but all played a crucial role in uncovering the missing pieces that helped to solve the mystery. 

The story was incredibly atmospheric. It didn’t hurt that I happened to read it on a cold day, when I was curled up under a fuzzy blanket with my dogs by my side, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if I had looked outside my window and seen a blizzard raging. It felt almost as though I was right there with the characters. Things moved a bit slowly in the beginning, allowing me to get accustomed to the setting and the characters, but then picked up the pace, increasing faster and faster towards the end of the book. There were more and more plot twists as I got closer to the end, and I couldn’t have put the book down for just about anything in the world by that point. 

Overall, this is an incredibly strong debut, and the ending leaves an opening for a sequel, which I hope is forthcoming. This has great potential to be a series, and I’m really looking forward to seeing more from Yamashita, because she’s clearly talented and I’ve gotten kind of attached to the characters in the story. I especially liked the way we got inside the heads of each of the MCs in the story, and understood what drove each of them, as well as learning more about the secrets that would motivate a person to want to live in a place like Point Mettier. 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 11

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