Summer of the Dead

Julia Keller.. Minotaur, $25.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-250-04473-0
After two savage, seemingly senseless murders within weeks, Bell Elkins starts to feel the heat—and that's even without the mess of trouble simmering at home with her headstrong, recently paroled big sister, Shirley—in Keller's character-driven, plot-compromised third novel starring the steely West Virginia prosecutor (after 2013's Bitter River). As residents of Bell's hardscrabble Appalachian hometown of Acker's Gap shy away from even simple summer pleasures for fear of a serial killer in their midst, she doggedly pursues the scant leads while trying to forge an adult relationship with the sibling whose selfless act decades earlier spared her from their father's abuse. Though the investigation uncovers a sad story behind almost every sagging porch (among them the plight of teen bookworm Lindy Crabtree, who turns the cellar of her crumbling family place into the simulacrum of a mine to comfort her demented and possibly dangerous father, a retired miner), and culminates in a denouement surprising largely because it seems so contrived, the book's prime pleasure lies in joining the complex Bell on the long journey toward making peace with her past. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 07/07/2014
Release date: 08/26/2014
Genre: Fiction
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