In the future, humans live side by side with cognizant androids, known as Artificials, and the AI technology that grants them sentience is getting better all the time. These Artificials have free will and there are many humans who oppose their very existence. Kestrel Hathaway is a minister who has just undergone a personal tragedy that has shaken her faith and she now questions what kind of God would allow such things to happen. Just as she is coming to terms with her loss she finds herself involved in a terrorist attack where she lends aid to some of the victims and this plunges her into a world of federal agents and terrorist groups that are odds with each other. The Purists are fighting to prevent the Artificials from becoming more advanced and they feel that they must stop such advancement before it is too late. Wrapped up in this conflict, Kestrel finds herself not only thinking about her own beliefs but also whether advanced Artificials, who struggle with the same insecurities that she does, have a right to the same faith and belief in God that helps her cope.
Kelley Armstrong has been a successful urban fantasy writer for years before she wrote City of the Lost. It might be billed as a sci-fi thriller but the "sci-fi" is definitely a stretch, although, it takes place so far from normal civilization that it has that feel.
Casey Duncan murdered a man. Not in the line of duty as a homicide detective, nor in self defense. She's not even sorry he's dead, although she feels guilty about the lack of guilt, so to speak. Her best friend has an abusive ex-husband who won't leave her alone. Both of them need to disappear for a while and they apply to join a hidden community off the grid. Her friend Diana has no special skills but they desperately need a detective, even one who murdered, because they may have a serial killer. Casey's job is to figure out whodunit in a town where everyone is hiding behind a fake identity to protect their pasts, and some have even bought their way in with criminal pasts far more sordid than Casey's own.