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Bitter River by Julia Keller

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

The second outing for Raythune County’s prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins. She is a single mum with a sister in prison and a background full of secrets. She is terrific. The novels are set in a small town, Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, at the base of the Appalachian Mountains. There is a tremendous sense of place, of small town living and the socio-economic problems of such a place. It’s a very character driven tale, third person but mostly from Bell’s point of view. It is a quick read, absorbing, intriguing and atmospheric. A local teenager is killed, an elderly courthouse employee narrowly avoids a bullet and then an explosion blows up the local diner. Something very nasty has come to this small Virginian town. Why? Terrific stuff. Highly recommended.

If you like Julia Keller you might also like to read books by Dennis Lehane, Henning Mankell and David Bell.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Bitter River by Julia Keller

Bell Elkins returns in the devastating follow-up to Pulitzer prize winner Julia Keller's highly acclaimed A KILLING IN THE HILLS. Acker's Gap, West Virginia: a high-school student - sixteen, full of promise, and pregnant - is found murdered in a car at the bottom of the Bitter River. Her death devastates the community, but one among them must be responsible. Bell Elkins, Raythune County's prosecuting attorney, is determined to bring the killer to justice. But someone else has their own agenda. Amid the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains, another act of violence is about to strike. As Bell and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong work to uncover the truth, one thing is certain: no one can truly understand Acker's Gap until they are in the thick of it. Bell returned to her hometown to make a difference. But just how much is she willing to risk?


A rare talent and a must read -- Karin Slaughter

A gripping, beautifully crafted murder-mystery -- Scott Turow

A remarkably written and remarkably tense debut. I loved it -- Dennis Lehane

About the Author

Julia Keller was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. The chief book critic for the Chicago Tribune, she has taught both creative and non-fiction writing at Princeton, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, and won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2005.

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Book Info

Publication date

22nd May 2014


Julia Keller

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Author's Website


Headline Book Publishing an imprint of Headline Publishing Group


448 pages


Crime / Mystery
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Crime & mystery



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