At first, Cold Creek seems just like any other far-Northwestern small town. What makes it sinisterly different, though, is the highway.

The highway where girls and women, many of them Indigenous, have disappeared for decades. Where billboards display the victims' pictures and dates that they vanished — some walking, some riding bikes, some driving alone along the dark road. Billboards warn, "Women. Don't hitchhike. Dangerous highway."

It's against this backdrop that teenager Hailey suddenly finds herself alone. Her dad has just died in a mountain accident and his sister, Aunt Lana, and Uncle Vaughn have taken her in. Being a rebellious teen, Hailey finds little to like about the living arrangement and spends her days and, against the rules, most nights with her childhood friend Jonny.

When terrible trouble boils over between Hailey and Vaughn, she runs away to a remote cabin her dad owned and puts her camping and survival skills to work. Only Jonny knows she's still alive, with most of the town thinking she's the latest victim of the highway killer.

Soon after, there's a death in the woods. Amber, a young woman who has a crush on Hailey, has come to look for her but is found murdered not far from the cabin. As Hailey mourns, her hiding place stays secret.

Fast forward a year, and Amber's sister comes to Cold Creek for a memorial for the highway victims. She soon finds a coverup tied to the deaths. And she finds Hailey.

The feat these two, conspiring with Jonny, want to pull off is unthinkable. Not to mention that Hailey is believed dead. But with some evidence as bait, she's drawn out and the young trio confront the demon in all his forms.

A well told and all-too-believable tale, "Dark Roads" borrows from the real-life tragedies along the Highway of Tears in British Columbia. It's a surprisingly fast read, full of action, surprises, despair and hope. It's a keeper for thriller fans.

Ginny Greene is a Star Tribune copy editor.

Dark Roads

By: Chevy Stevens.

Publisher: St. Martin's Press, 384 pages, $27.99.