Bitter River

Small West Virginian Prosecutor Bell Elkins is called out to the investigation into the murder of Lucinda Trimble, a pregnant teenage girl, in Julia Keller’s Bitter River. The poor teenager is found strangled in her car that was found mostly underwater in the Bitter River. Bell needs to look into her wealthy boyfriend’s family, her eclectic mother, and any one else in the small town of Acker’s Gap that might have a motive to kill.

This novel also provided a glimpse into rural West Virginian politics and life. A world has moved past them when jobs and hope left. Kids growing up in this area either are resigned to their fate or make plans or dreams to get out. Learning what motivated the teens in the town, shows how hope can spring up in even the least hopeful places.

As the investigation trudges along, a random shooting almost hits Bell’s secretary and the local diner explodes in a possible gas leak. With all this happening, its hard for Bell and the Sheriff Nick Fogelsong to not miss the important clues that will lead to the killer.

The murder mystery was well written and kept the clues so hidden as to have a real surprise at the ending. The other crimes, the shooting at the secretary and the explosion, I felt were too obvious. I read this book over a couple of weeks and I still pieced it together before Elkins and Fogelsong. But I still really enjoyed the characterization of many of the characters as well as the feeling of place in the novel.

Read November 2016

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