Bitter River by Julia Keller


Title:        Bitter River

Author:    Julia Keller

First Published:  3rd September 2013 (Paperback)

No. of Pages:  386

Rating:  3/5

Synopsis (from Amazon):

When tragedy hits Acker’s Gap, no one escapes its effects.

In Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, a high-school student – sixteen, full of promise, and pregnant – is found murdered in a car at the bottom of the Bitter River. Her death devastates the community, but one among them must be responsible. Bell Elkins, Raythune County’s prosecuting attorney, is determined to bring the killer to justice.

But someone else has their own agenda. Amid the shadow of the Appalachian Mountains, another act of violence is about to strike. As Bell and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong work to uncover the truth, one thing is certain: no one can truly understand Acker’s Gap until they are in the thick of it.

Bell returned to her hometown to make a difference. But just how much is she willing to risk?


This is the second book in Julia Keller’s Bell Elkins/Acker’s Gap series, but if you haven’t read the first, don’t worry; I read it as a stand-alone novel, and thoroughly enjoyed it.  I will definitely buy more in the series when I see them.  I found the characters engaging, the descriptions of Acker’s Gap and the surrounding country evocative, and the storyline enjoyable and (particularly in the second half of the book) gripping.

Prosecuting Attorney Bell Elkins is on her way back to Acker’s Gap, one of those small towns where everyone knows everyone, when she answers a call from one of her closest friends and colleagues. Sheriff Nick Fogelsong tells her that sixteen year old Lucinda Trimble has been found dead in a car in Bitter River.  As the case unfolds we learn more about Acker’s Gap, its inhabitants, and the intricacies of their relationships.  A sniper fires at Bell’s office, there is an explosion in town, and Sheriff Fogelsong’s house is under siege … there is plenty of suspense to keep you interested and reading until the early hours.  And as for Lucinda’s killer?  Well, I certainly didn’t suspect them for a moment although, with hindsight, maybe I should have!  I was left wanting to know more about what happens to Bell and Nick and their families, and will definitely look out for the next in the series.

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