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A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller
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A Killing in the Hills (edition 2012)

by Julia Keller

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1791666,229 (3.52)19
Member:jonesli
Title:A Killing in the Hills
Authors:Julia Keller
Info:Minotaur Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, Hardcover, 384 pages
Collections:2013 Challenge, Borrowed from Library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:2013 Category Challenge, Some Like It Hot, Finished January 2013

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A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (Author)

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  Philip100 | Jul 14, 2014 |
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 ( )
  markon | Jun 7, 2014 |
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? ( )
  delphimo | Nov 12, 2013 |
Finished this book while waiting for election results, so I didn't pay enough attention at the end. Too preachy and too many similes, but a pretty good read. ( )
  lisan. | Oct 4, 2013 |
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. ( )
  Tonestaple | Sep 1, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
At the start of Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Keller's outstanding first novel, 17-year-old Carla Elkins is waiting for her divorced mother, Bell Elkins, Raythune County's prosecuting attorney, at the Salty Dawg, a chain restaurant in Acker's Gap, W.Va., when three old men are shot dead at a nearby table. Carla catches only a glimpse of the killer at the Salty Dawg's entrance before he flees. Bell, who's been crusading with the local sheriff against the growing illegal traffic in prescription drugs and the violence it spawns, investigates the triple slaying, as does rebellious Carla. Meanwhile, the drug boss orders the assassin to kill the meddling prosecutor. Keller does a superb job showing both the natural beauty of Appalachia and the hopeless anger of the people trapped there in poverty. Some characters turn out to be better than they appear, some much worse, but the ensemble cast is unforgettable. So is this novel.
added by ozzer | editPublishers Weekly (Jun 11, 2012)
 
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Book description
In A Killing in the Hills, a 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.

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?
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In this novel a mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it is too late. What is 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?… (more)

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Minotaur Books

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