Last Ragged Breath

Julia Keller. Minotaur, $25.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-04474-7
The Buffalo Creek flood of 1972, a real-life West Virginia tragedy in which more than 100 people died, provides the backdrop for Keller’s fourth Bell Elkins thriller (after 2014’s Summer of the Dead), an intense study of childhood trauma and corporate malfeasance. Decades later (now in the present), Royce Dillard, a recluse whose parents perished in the flood, becomes a suspect when a dog sniffs out the corpse of Ed Hackel, a slick marketer, in a creek outside Acker’s Gap. Hackel had been pressuring Dillard to sell his land so that it could be developed as part of the new Mountain Magic resort planned for the region. As prosecuting attorney, Bell is tasked with proving Dillard’s guilt. When it becomes clear that something about Dillard doesn’t fit the profile of a cold-blooded killer, Bell must dig deeper into a community rife with secrets. Keller conveys smalltown mind-sets with a folksy style that richly evokes a part of Appalachia still grappling with its past. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/01/2015
Release date: 08/25/2015
Genre: Fiction
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Hardcover - 593 pages - 978-1-4104-8466-6
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