High summer in Acker's Gap, West Virginia - but no one's enjoying the rugged natural landscape. Not while a killer stalks the small town and its hard-luck inhabitants. County prosecutor Bell Elkins and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong are stymied by a murderer who seems to come and go like smoke on the mountain. At the same time, Bell must deal with the return from prison of her sister, Shirley - who, like Bell, carries the indelible scars of a savage past.
In Summer of the Dead, the third Julia Keller mystery chronicling the journey of Bell Elkins and her return to her Appalachian hometown, we also meet Lindy Crabtree - a coal miner's daughter with dark secrets of her own, secrets that threaten to explode into even more violence.
Acker's Gap is a place of loveliness and brutality, of isolation and fierce attachments - a place where the dead rub shoulders with the living, and demand their due.
©2014 Julia Keller (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
I love the description of the hot summer and the interesting characters but the solution to the mystery I didn't like at all. I won't reread this one, but I will finish the series.
I really liked the first two novels I read by Julia Keller. Her protagonist, Belle Elkin, was tough and smart, which are admirable qualities. I even like the West Virginia hill country she described but this book was not as good as the first two. I felt as though Ms. Keller was trying to stretch the book by adding descriptive paragraphs. Maybe she finished the book and it wasn't long enough so the editor said, "add something, make it longer." How many lines do you really need to describe the cold air coming from the basement? I found it very tiring and also caused me to lose interest in the story. Sorry but I can't recommend this book.
I will give Julia Keller one more chance, but the ending of this book was close to unforgivably bad. Granted, this is summer reading, and so it doesn't have to be realistic, but this ending was singularly horrible. I have seen bad adaptations of John Grisham novels that were more believable than the ending of this book. It makes me feel like I want the previous 9:30 back. Just wretched! I love Bell Elkins; I love Rhon Rhon; I love the rest of the supporting cast (Nick, etc.) and none of them played enough of a role in this book. It was all strangers and then a preposterously stupid conspiracy and a "surprise" resolution to part of the violence that violates most of PD James's rules about what constitutes good murder mystery. Shannon McManus, however, is impeccable. She's a joy to listen to.
Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
She nails the accent and she has wonderful pacing. She over-enunciates the letter "t" at the end of words from time to time, but it's a nice affectation. She's almost as good as George Guidall. I'd listen to her read the phone book, especially if it were for a southern city.
It almost inspired me to throw my ipod across the room when the reveal happened at the end. Really dreadful ending. Just horrible!
Here's hoping Julia Keller recovers after this one and comes up with a believable set of circumstances for the next book.
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