Bitter River
by Keller, Julia






An investigation into the murder of a pregnant teenage girl is complicated by county prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins's separation from the daughter who is living with her ex, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong's strange behavior, and a person from her past.





JULIA KELLER spent twelve years as a reporter and editor for the Chicago Tribune, where she won a Pulitzer Prize. A recipient of a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University, she was born in West Virginia and lives in Chicago and Ohio. Bitter River is her second adult novel.





*Starred Review* The world intrudes cruelly on Acker's Gap, West Virginia, the hometown to which D.C. lawyer Bell Elkins has returned to try to make a difference. As county prosecutor, Bell is working with childhood friend, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, on the murder of 16-year-old Lucinda Trimble when a potentially fatal shot is fired into the courthouse and soon followed by a tragedy at the local diner. The town mourns Lucinda-bright, beautiful, bursting with potential, but pregnant and planning to marry her high-school boyfriend-while both Bell and Nick display blind spots in the course of pursuing their investigation. The town is in shock after the diner incident, and Bell's theory about what may be behind it comes just a little too late to prevent further bloodshed. With her 17-year-old daughter, Carla, now living with Bell's ex in D.C. after the dangerous events in Keller's highly-praised A Killing in the Hills (2012), Bell occasionally longs for the excitement of the city, but a single compelling personal reason keeps her in Acker's Gap, however isolated it is. Once again, Keller combines masterful storytelling, a vivid sense of place-the beauty and poverty of Appalachia-a complex cast of characters, and a suspenseful, superbly executed plot that displays a depth rarely seen in mystery fiction. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.





A tough prosecutor in a small West Virginia town battles criminals and inner demons. Bell Elkins grew up poor in Acker's Gap, made a success of her life against all odds, married a local boy, made good and moved on to a high-paying job in Washington before giving it all up and returning to her mountain town. Now, her teen daughter is living with her father in D.C. after her involvement with one of Bell's cases almost proved the death of her. Bell, who loves her job and her beautiful, dirt-poor hometown, is waiting hopefully for her sister, who killed their father in order to protect Bell, to come back home after her release from prison. While she waits, she and her friend Sheriff Nick Fogelsong have a tough case to solve: the murder of a promising high school student, Lucinda Trimble, who refused to give up her unborn baby. Lucinda's mother is a flower child who ekes out a living selling folk art to tourists, her father a high school bad boy, always in trouble, who still cares for the daughter he deserted years ago. The high school sweetheart Lucinda was set to marry becomes a suspect, along with the members of his disapproving family. Meanwhile, Bell's latest romantic interest loses a leg when the town's popular restaurant is blown to smithereens (accident? bomb?), killing several of her friends. And she must cope with an old friend, a former CIA interrogator, who needs to spend some time in a peaceful setting but may be bringing his dangerous past with him. A worthy follow-up to Bell's debut (A Killing in the Hills, 2012): a literate, gritty, character-driven tale with another surprise ending. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.






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