A first mystery by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Julia Keller – and it doesn’t disappoint.
Set in the hills of West Virginia, the novel’s protagonist is a small-town prosecuting attorney, Bell Elkins. Bell is a single mom of a teenaged daughter. But more than this… she is a workaholic! She is obsessed with ridding West Virginia of the recent drug connected violence in her community. Poor Virginians are more and more succumbing to the escape of easily procured narcotics. The result is more poverty, dysfunctional families and a disintegrating society.
One day Bell is meant to pick up her daughter from a local diner, but as usual, gets delayed at work. As a result her daughter, Carla, is a witness to a brutal triple murder. Three elderly men, enjoying a coffee and each others company are gunned down in front of several witnesses. It happens so fast that no one really remembers anything about the shooter… except Carla. But Carla is not telling. She feels that she alone can help her mother do her job, and sets about to do just that. Mother and daughter have been on rocky ground of late and she feels that if she does this for her mother, it will somehow repair their fragile relationship.
The novel explores rural society, small-town life, friendship, family and so much more. The characters are well drawn, especially Sheriff Fogelsong who has a long history with Bell’s character. And Bell herself, who is as damaged as they come… As many good mysteries do, this one has a great twist/surprise ending. The first novel in what is sure to be a successful mystery series, this one is not to be missed.