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A Killing in the Hills: A Novel

A Killing in the Hills: A Novel

Написано Julia Keller

Озвучено Shannon McManus


A Killing in the Hills: A Novel

Написано Julia Keller

Озвучено Shannon McManus

оценки:
4/5 (20 оценки)
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12 hours
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Издано:
Aug 21, 2012
ISBN:
9781469216447
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Описание

What's happening in Acker's Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker's Gap? Or were Dean Streeter, Shorty McClurg, and Lee Rader targeted somehow?

One of the witnesses to the brutal incident was Carla Elkins, teenaged daughter of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, West Virginia. Carla was shocked and horrified by what she saw, but after a few days, she begins to recover enough to believe that she might be uniquely placed to help her mother do her job.

After all, what better way to repair their fragile, damaged relationship? But could Carla also end up doing more harm than good - in fact, putting her own life in danger?

In this powerful, intricate debut from Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller, a mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it's too late.

"Shannon McManus does a terrific job narrating Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller's debut novel. …McManus handles the various ages, accents, and genders with controlled enthusiasm, delivering a gripping performance of Keller's many shocking plot twists and breathtaking descriptions of Appalachia's beauty. First-rate listening." - Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
Издатель:
Издано:
Aug 21, 2012
ISBN:
9781469216447
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Об авторе

Julia Keller, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and former cultural critic at the Chicago Tribune, is the author of many books for adults and young readers, including A Killing in the Hills, the first book in the Bell Elkins series and winner of the Barry Award for Best First Novel (2013); Back Home; and The Dark Intercept. Keller has a Ph.D. in English literature from Ohio State and was awarded Harvard University’s Nieman Fellowship. She was born in West Virginia and lives in Ohio.


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  • (4/5)
    This started out like just another crime fiction, but it turned into a great read! Stayed up late to finish it.
  • (3/5)
    The old men met for coffee at a local restaurant every Saturday morning. One of those mornings was fatal. Three well placed gunshots rang out and the three old men were dead in the small town of Acker's Gap, West Virginia. The prosecuting attorney finds that these men's deaths have something in common with her.
  • (3/5)
    A good if imperfect first mystery for the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Set in the fictional town of Ackers Gap, West Virginia, the descriptions of the setting and the lives of the people there are the strength of the book. I'm also intrigued by the protagonists. Belfa (a native of Acker's Gap with her own history & baggage), now divorced, has returned to her hometown with her teenage daughter, Carla, and become the district attorney. She and the sheriff are uncompromising in their fight to eliminate drug traffic in their community.When Carla is present at the shooting of three old men at a local restaurant, no one has a clue who did it or why.I don't like mysteries that put you inside of the head of the murderer, and this is one of them. We know from the start who 'dun it and why. I didn't find this character sympathetic at all, I would probably have enjoyed it more if he was drawn with more depth.Carla's choices were also a bit suspect for me, though she isn't a cardboard character like the killer.Finally, the reveal of the person responsible for ordering the killing came a bit out of left field. Again, I would have enjoyed it more if this character had been drawn with more depth, showing the financial and emotional pressure that provided the impetus for his involvement.Drugs, small towns, and lack of financial opportunities are a rich source to draw from. I hope Julie Keller can take the time to create more nuanced villans the next time around
  • (4/5)
    Bell Elkins, chief prosecutor of Raythune County, has her hands full in Acker's Gap, with a seemingly random murder of three old men in a coffee shop, her daughter's teenage angst and acting out, and the overwhelming flood of opioids and heroin. The reader has to wonder why she stays, especially in light of her own background of abuse and murder, and the setting, with no redeeming value other than the beauty of the physical landscape. But I guess it's the only way to keep the series going. There was a very good twist and an ending leading to more mystery for Bell. I'll read some more Bell Elkins novels, but this one seemed a bit tired.Quotes: "She still had strong legs and a kind of permanent forward momentum.""You were perpetually surrounded by the ghosts of all the people that you had once been. The room got very crowded, very fast. Every sentence had an echo."
  • (2/5)
    I am in the middle of reading a critique of modern literary fiction for being too pretentious, too wordy, too boring. Perhaps if I weren't reading this other little book, I might not have found "A Killing in the Hills" quite so annoying. But it really reads as if the author tried to write a mystery but didn't want to be considered a genre hack and so added metaphors to every single stinking paragraph in the book. And not good metaphors, stupid ones. I gave the book back to the library yesterday so I can only remember one of them that annoyed me the most: in describing fall colors, the author referred to "...crazy reds, headstrong yellows...." Truly, how is red crazy? And how on earth does yellow get to be headstrong?There are all manner of holes in the plot but the two worst are:1. Daughter doesn't tell mom something critical because she is afraid mom will be mad at her for being at a party where there were drugs. Now nothing else, including a nose piercing, bothers this girl's mom so what makes daughter think mom is going to get upset about the party, considering how she ended up there? It's a contrivance created to keep the book going for another two hundred pages.2. The big bad (not the actual killer - we know who he is fairly early on) is revealed out of the blue. There had been no indication whatsoever that he was the big bad; we were just all of a sudden told that he was. That, in murder-mystery land, is cheating.So I'm completely mystified by the praise for this book. It's not a literary novel although it tries so hard to be one, but it's a lousy mystery because the author cheats.
  • (4/5)
    I read this book because I really enjoy this author's writing style. The story had many layers to it. I cheered when Carla was saved by her mom. The story had many emotions in it, so it fit right in with my roller coaster week. I will be waiting for the next great work written by this author because I have read the whole "Bell" series.
  • (4/5)
    I really enjoyed reading this book. The mystery part will keep you reading and is believable. What I really liked is the way she portrays West Virginia there is no BS or any of that cliquice hillbilly crap that still makes everyone think people from West Virginia are backwards eight year olds. I can't wait to read Bitter River. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to everyone.
  • (4/5)
    Keller writes a beautiful novel complete with dimensional characters and riveting scenes. I could fell the gentle strength of Belfa and the tenacious hold on Link Fogelsong. Why do people turn to crime is a question with many layers, and Keller addresses several of the reasons in her novel. The people of Acker's Gap are pitiful and wonderful in different degrees. A small community knows all the personal secrets, but individuals lack the gumption for involvement. The only concern rests with the electrician that comes to review his work. I see no relevance in this character other than a love interest in a later novel. I also feel that the emotions between Bell and Carla, and between Bell and her sister are too mellow. Where are the heat and the frustration?
  • (5/5)
    Julia Keller is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist. In this first book in the Bell Elkins series, she introduces us to Bell, a prosecutor in Acker's Gap, West Virginia. Bell grew up in Acker's Gap, bouncing between foster homes after a tragedy that haunts her still, and she recently returned in hopes of helping her hometown avoid the growing drug problem that has taken over the town. However, when her daughter witnesses a murder, Bell's search for the murderer becomes personal. This was an excellent beginning to this series. Keller's descriptions took me into the West Virginia mountains. The plot keep me engaged, and Keller introduced a cast of characters who I'm anxious to return to. With only three additional books in this series so far, I can see myself burning through them quickly and waiting anxiously for future additions.
  • (4/5)
    Reading "A Killing in the Hills" is my first introduction to the writing of Julia Keller. It is also the first time that I ever recall the setting of a novel being in West Virginia. At the time this novel was written, it was her debut mystery novel and a fact I never would have guessed. Julia Keller was born and raised in West Virginia. As the author explained in one interview, "I was probably the most surprised person of all when I chose to set my fiction in West Virginia," she says. "[I] hadn't lived here in a long time, didn't really know that it moved in my blood — if it did."

    Julia Keller creates the setting of Acker's Gap, in West Virginia, a fictional small town. With her writing, the descriptions of the setting and surrounding area, and the details of the nuances that are unique to small towns and specific to West Virginia definitely convey that the author can bring an authenticity to her writing that deepens her characters and the story they tell. It is a page-turning story of murder and drugs but also a gripping story of relationships and friendships.

    Murder mysteries are most often written from the point of reference of the private investigator or the criminal defense attorney or the client. The main character in this novel (that has become a series) is Belfa (Bell) Elkins, prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, West Virginia. I highly recommend the novel as one not to be missed.

  • (5/5)
    I chose to read this book since it takes place in West Virginia, and the author is a Pultizer Prize winning author in journalism. I wasn't disappointed. I like the main character, Bell Elkins, and I'm glad I can follow her through other books also. The murder mystery was interesting, and I did not see the ending until I read it. I like books that keep me guessing! Keller's descriptions of a small town in WV brings to mind all I have seen in my 35 years of going to the state with my husband who grew up there and whose family goes back generations there. It is a beautiful state, but there is poverty and problems there that are hidden in the valleys in towns that have seen economic upswings pass them by. I have already started the next book in the series.
  • (4/5)
    Reading "A Killing in the Hills" is my first introduction to the writing of Julia Keller. It is also the first time that I ever recall the setting of a novel being in West Virginia. At the time this novel was written, it was her debut mystery novel and a fact I never would have guessed. Julia Keller was born and raised in West Virginia. As the author explained in one interview, "I was probably the most surprised person of all when I chose to set my fiction in West Virginia," she says. "[I] hadn't lived here in a long time, didn't really know that it moved in my blood — if it did."

    Julia Keller creates the setting of Acker's Gap, in West Virginia, a fictional small town. With her writing, the descriptions of the setting and surrounding area, and the details of the nuances that are unique to small towns and specific to West Virginia definitely convey that the author can bring an authenticity to her writing that deepens her characters and the story they tell. It is a page-turning story of murder and drugs but also a gripping story of relationships and friendships.

    Murder mysteries are most often written from the point of reference of the private investigator or the criminal defense attorney or the client. The main character in this novel (that has become a series) is Belfa (Bell) Elkins, prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, West Virginia. I highly recommend the novel as one not to be missed.

  • (3/5)
    Set in the small, fictional town of Acker’s Gap, nestled among the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, A Killing in the Hills by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Julia Keller is a murder mystery that I fully expected to carry me away with it’s excellent writing and atmosphere. Unfortunately this wasn’t the book I was hoping for. This debut suffered from clichéd characters and a predictable plot. I actually preferred the side story to the main one. There were more than a few holes in the plot, the book could have used some editing and the relationship between Bell and her daughter was to me, downright strange. Bell professes to care so much for her daughter, yet she couldn’t seem to make it home before 8:00 pm most evenings. Her daughter is a witness to a triple homicide, yet after finding someone to sit with her, Bell goes back to work that afternoon. This is a mother who doesn’t notice when her daughter has her nose pierced, yet we are asked to believe that the daughter was afraid to tell her mother about a party she attended because there were drugs there! I found that once the relationships were called into question, the rest of the story was hard to swallow. I doubt whether I will pick up any more books in this series.
  • (4/5)
    I read this in two days with an interruption for sleep - mysteries are not my favorite genre but this had great characters and a plot that revolved around issues as well as who did it. Keller is a journalist first and I like the way that style carried over into this story.
  • (3/5)
    A woman returns to the place where a family tragedy took place years ago. Everyone else is gone. She decides there is nothing here for her, either.That woman is the prosecuting attorney of Raythune County, West Virginia. Bell Elkins has brought her teenage daughter, Carla, back to her hometown when her husband wanted a high-flying career that didn't seem to include them. But home hasn't been a sanctuary. Carla is in full teenage-rebel mode. She also could have been hurt the day a gunman walked into a local restaurant and killed three old men in the middle of their morning coffee meeting.Bell and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, who was a young deputy when the tragedy in Bell's family took place and who took her under his wing, seek to find the killer. They also deal with other cases, the people they work with and the rest of the town where everybody seemingly knows everybody else. As is normal in a small town, not everyone is as they seem.One of the cases appears to be an easy prosecution but shows Bell's determination for precision and doing right. A developmentally disabled young man plays with a much younger boy. One day, the younger boy dies. On its own, this case could have taken center stage in showing Bell's character, the ins and outs of small-town prosecutions and a decent plot.The main story is told from the investigation side as well as the first-person account of the shooter, who is fairly standard-issue small-town nobody who wants to be known for something. The interesting part of the case has to do with Carla as she struggles with growing up and wanting to make her mother proud of her even if she wants Mom to just leave her alone. Keller's first novel is an interesting attempt to showcase the struggles of people who live in beautiful country and high poverty, where drugs can offer an easy way out and a way to make some money. It isn't the strongest novel, as a few Too Stupid to Live moments are employed to raise the stakes in finding the killer. A contractor wanting to stop by a house after 10 p.m. also can easily take a reader out of the story. But the novel is an honest attempt and shows the Pulitzer Prize-winning author's considerable admiration for West Virginia and her people.
  • (4/5)
    Rating: 3.5* of fiveThe Book Description: In this powerful, intricate debut from a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Julia Keller, a mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it's too late.What's happening in Acker's Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker's Gap? Or were Dean Streeter, Shorty McClurg, and Lee Rader targeted somehow?One of the witnesses to the brutal incident was Carla Elkins, teenaged daughter of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, WV. Carla was shocked and horrified by what she saw, but after a few days, she begins to recover enough to believe that she might be uniquely placed to help her mother do her job.After all, what better way to repair their fragile, damaged relationship? But could Carla also end up doing more harm than good—in fact, putting her own life in danger?My Review: Very journalistic. Bell, the prosecutor heroine, has a difficult relationship with her teenaged only child. (Duh! That’s called “teenaged daughter syndrome,” and afflicts all parents for at least 4 to 5 child-rearing years.) She’s divorced. (Duh! This is called “the wages of sin,” aka marrying outside one’s species. Never a good idea. Seldom works for very long.) She’s poor. (Duh! She works for the gummint, and not only that, the gummint of one of the poorest states!)Murder and mayhem and drug-dealing and small-town woes. Not bad, not particularly good, and if you want to read something excellent on the same themes, read Winter’s Bone. This? Well, if you want to. But borrow it, don’t buy it.
  • (4/5)
    Death in Appalachia. Acker’s Gap is a small West Virginia town. A rural area that is both beautiful and grotesque. Rampart drug use and incessant poverty are the reasons for the latter, issues that currently plague many areas across America. One Saturday morning, three old man, longtime friends, are having coffee at a local diner. They are brutally gunned down by a lone assailant, who quickly flees. Bell Elkins, the county prosecutor, is called in to investigate. Her teenage daughter witnessed the crime.Bell’s first instinct is that the killings are somehow drug-related. But are they?This is a tough and gritty mystery. A cruel postcard, about the persistent struggles of the lower classes. No, this is not great literature but Keller, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and West Virginia native, is a very good writer and she’s done a fine job here.
  • (4/5)
    Acker's Gap, West Virginia is set in the incredibly beautiful, endlessly rolling Appalachian Mountains. Like too many of the poverty-stricken towns in the area it is also, according to the author "An ugly place, a place riddled with violence-the special kind of violence that follows poverty, the way a mean old dog slinks along behind its master."Lawyer Bell Elkins had brought her teenage daughter Carla back to her birthplace from the bustle and sophistication of their upscale Washington D.C. life following Bell's divorce. Against the advice of old friend Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, she ran for and was elected County Prosecutor. A rash of crimes caused by the recent tsunami of new and more dangerous drugs into the county has kept both Sheriff and Prosecutor working very long hours without ever getting close to the major supplier.Bell's relationship with her 17 year old daughter Carla is difficult. Carla is at that unattractive stage of adolescence where all adults are to be despised, parents in particular. However, that sullen "hard ceramic glaze of cool" which Carla presents to the world is briefly shattered one morning when she waits in a restaurant for her mother to pick her up.Her mother is, as usual, late - has probably forgotten her again. The world in general and Acker's Gap and her mother in particular suck big time. And how can those three old guys having coffee and chatting and laughing possibly be enjoying themselves? Carla spitefully hopes she is dead before she gets that old and wrinkled. Then the door opens, there are three soft pops, and the heads of the old men explode in sprays of red and gray. As the door closes quietly, Carla catches a fleeting glimpse of a gun barrel and little piggy eyes in a thin face.Bell hears the police call and races to the scene and her daughter. But when the sobbing and badly shaken Carla attempts to describe the event to her mother, Bell, in prosecutor mode, hushes her; telling her not to discuss it until the police take her official statement. This proves a serious mistake on several counts. By the time the police take her statement, Carla, thinking she has seen the killer at a party she shouldn't have attended, has decided to find him on her own.Bell's judgment in bringing her daughter home to these rural mountains for safety was curious. Her own upbringing here was marred by violence and murder, facts that she has never shared with Carla. Mountain people are famously secretive, so despite the fact that the older residents of the town all know Bell's history, her daughter has no idea what drives Bell so hard professionally.The book offered a number of interesting and believable characters and motives. While the action dragged a bit in the middle, the richly developed characters, vivid descriptions, and beautiful prose kept me reading. I usually read several books at once; but the setting and characters in this book kept me continuously engaged.Note: I received a free review copy of this book.
  • (5/5)
    "A Killing in the Hills" is a great book, a rare 5 stars from me, awarded so far this year to about 5 out of 60 books read. One of the real joys of reading these days is to be taken to so many new places, places the reader is not likely to visit much less become intimately acquainted with except through the words of a special author. But too often the reader is cheated, given casual references or brief descriptions of an obvious landmark. Take away those dozen passages and the story might take place in any one of a country's major cities. But one of the things that makes AKITH so appealing is that it grabs the reader and plunks him/her down in the middle of Acker's Gap, W Virginia. And we see the town and all its blemishes and all its glories - and we can see and hear the characters - many of whom the reader will like very much. We're in the hills of W Virginia! And it's November and you can feel the chill. The story starts with a brutal murder, and its witnessed by the daughter of the town's prosecutor. Too often, crime fiction today includes a desultory subplot that exists only to interject pauses in the main story. Not so with AKITH. The subplot here is about a very gut wrenching case involving the death of a young person. And it is the surprising and gradually building tension of this case that further distinguishes this book from the rest of the pack. Run out and get this book now - you won't be disappointed.
  • (4/5)
    Acker's Gap, West Virginia could literally be any small town within the United States. The problems found there are found elsewhere. And the growing problem faced in many small towns is a problem with drugs (meth as well as prescription drug abuse). Prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins is working hard to see that Acker's Gap doesn't become tainted by the ever-increasing drug problems. A native West Virginia, Bell has seen plenty of trouble in her life and was able to succeed despite the rough start. She had even left West Virginia after completing school and worked in Washington, D.C. Bell became restless with the fast-paced life in DC and yearned to return home to West Virginia and make a difference. She had hoped her husband would feel the same, but he never wanted to return to his West Virginia roots. Bell returns to West Virginia, as a divorcee and single, working mother. Her daughter, Carla, does not like the small-town feel of Acker's Gap. She misses her friends from DC and the social life. After getting into trouble again, she is seriously thinking of asking her father if she can move in with him and return to DC. One single moment changes everything for both Carla and Bell . . . a shooting that ends in the murder of three older men, a shooting that is linked to the drug problem in Acker's Gap, a shooting that Carla was misfortunate enough to witness.Bell, due to her job, must investigate the murders but she is also concerned about the impact this event may have on Carla. Carla, somewhat traumatized by the murders, decides she wants to help her mom with this investigation. As both Carla and Bell seek to find answers to why this event happened, they put their lives in jeopardy. Will Bell be able to protect her daughter from possible retribution? Is it really possible these murders are tied to the illegal drug trade in Acker's Gap?Ms. Keller presents a story that is all too familiar; the effects of the illegal drug trade on small towns. Bell's back story provides just as much intrigue as the investigation into the murders and drug trafficking problems. She struggles with overcoming her past, while doing everything possible to ignore it. Carla is a typical teenage girl and yearns for excitement, difficult to find in a small town (or so she thinks). A Killing In The Hills is a dramatic and suspenseful story that drew me in from the first page. I found the characters and the action realistic and plausible. This story doesn't denigrate the small town life; it just shines a spotlight on the problems found there. I finished A Killing In The Hills in one sitting and look forward to more from Ms. Keller.
  • (3/5)
    I love a good mystery and was intrigued both by the premise of this novel and the pedigree of it’s author, Julia Keller who is a Pulitzer prize winning journalist.A Killing in the Hills begins in small town West Virginia where three elderly men have been shot dead in a busy local diner. As the residents of Acker’s Gap speculate on the reasons for the seemingly random crime, Sheriff, Nick Fogelsong, and prosecuting attorney, Belfa Elkins, begin to suspect the murders are somehow connected to Raythune County’s growing illegal trade in prescription drugs. A strong advocate for driving the crime ring out of the county, what Bell doesn’t know is that she is next on the killer’s hit list and only her rebellious teenage daughter, Carla, can tell her who he is.While the feature storyline of A Killing in the Hills is solid enough, I thought the plot lacked subtlety and tension overall. Many of the plot twists were bluntly foreshadowed or too contrived. Apart from a single incident (which she doesn’t tells anyone about) Bell is never in any danger from the killer who is supposed to be targeting her and Carla’s decision to ‘investigate’ on her own seems a naive and foolish choice for the daughter of two lawyers and I didn’t believe in her motivation when much simpler options to disclose what she knew, without revealing how she knew it, were available.While investigations continue into the murders, Bell is ruminating on another case involving the death of a young boy. I found this an interesting sub plot though again the twist was telegraphed and it’s resolution relied on a barely believable contrivance.I liked the characters of A Killing in the Hills, Bell has plenty of baggage including a jailed sister, ex husband and rebellious daughter. She appears to be a dedicated lawyer who works hard, perhaps too hard, and believes in being fair and compassionate. the Sheriff is a surrogate father figure, she seems to have few friends but she is intensely loyal to Ruth. Carla is a brat for seventeen, mired in adolescent narcissism and anger. Though her behaviour in the novel is not completely atypical for a teenage girl, I did think it was somewhat extreme for a girl of her circumstances.I did feel some of the characters of the novel were not entirely consistent though. The killer ultimately chooses a situation I felt was out of character and I found it difficult to reconcile some of the actions of the drug ring mastermind with his character when his identity was revealed,A real strength of A Killing in the Hills for me was the setting. Raythune County and Acker’s Gap is an area nestled in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virgina. Keller paints the portrait of a county steeped in poverty, unemployment, and despair surrounded by a stunning, but dangerous, rural mountain landscape. I can imagine the treacherous road winding its way past dilapidated homes, rusting trailers and abandoned buildings. While Keller exposes the brutal weakness of West Virgina there is also evident love for the region in her tone.Despite my criticisms of A Killing in the Hills, there was enough to keep me interested and I found it a fast read. I do think there is the potential to spin this into a solid mystery series and I’d be willing to give the next a try.