City Under One Roof
January 3, 2023

Book Review

City Under One Roof

reviewed by Pam Guynn

Iris Yamashita blends a unique setting with diverse characters in this atmospheric debut mystery novel. City Under One Roof is thought-provoking, clever, and full of secrets.

Local teenager, Amy Lin, discovers a severed hand and foot washed up in a cove near Point Mettier, Alaska. Cara Kennedy, a detective from Anchorage comes to investigate the possible murder. She has her own personal reasons for doing so.

This isolated town can only be reached for part of the year via a tunnel, snowmobile, or helicopter. During the tourist season, a ferry is operated. However, a blizzard followed by an avalanche closes the tunnel while Cara is in the isolated town. Cara is stuck in town and rents an apartment at the Davidson Condos, a multi-storied building that houses all of the town’s residents. Cara teams up with local police officer Joe Barkowski to investigate, but soon other problems arise. How did the victim die? Who is it? What secrets are being kept by the local residents?

Several characters play major roles in the story and the points of view alternate between Cara, Amy, and a woman named Lonnie. Cara is haunted by her past. She suffers from PTSD and her grief can overwhelm her at times, but she is a great detective. Amy seems to be a typical teenager dealing with a boyfriend and an overprotective mother. However, her discovery and her actions after that give readers insight into her complex traits. Lonnie has had a difficult life and has secrets of her own. What roles will they play in this mystery?

The characterization is well-done. Readers get insight into the characters and their secrets as the story progresses. Their actions, reactions, feelings, and thoughts provide clues to their personality traits that helped me understand their larger roles in the story.

The premise for this novel is excellent and the mystery is riveting. However, there are a few slow spots along the way. The setting and atmosphere are terrific. This reader felt transported to Alaska and could easily feel the cold and see the blizzard. Themes include death and grief, isolation and claustrophobia, domestic violence, secrets and lies, and much more. The author says the inspiration for the town comes from Whittier, Alaska. It’s accessible only by boat or a one-way, one lane tunnel. Additionally, most of the residents live in the same building.

Overall, this story is gripping, thought-provoking, and emotional, with great world-building. This is the first book in a mystery series. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author and seeing where she takes the characters next.

Berkley Publishing Group and Iris Yamashita provided a complimentary digital ARC of this novel via NetGalley. This is my honest review. Opinions are mine alone and are not biased in any way. Publication date is currently set for January 10, 2023.

City Under One Roof available at:


Police Procedural Features