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Publisher's Summary

What’s happening in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker’s Gap? Or were Dean Streeter, Shorty McClurg, and Lee Rader targeted somehow?

One of the witnesses to the brutal incident was Carla Elkins, teenaged daughter of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, West Virginia. Carla was shocked and horrified by what she saw, but after a few days, she begins to recover enough to believe that she might be uniquely placed to help her mother do her job. After all, what better way to repair their fragile, damaged relationship? But could Carla also end up doing more harm than good - in fact, putting her own life in danger?

In this powerful, intricate debut from Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Julia Keller, a mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it’s too late.

©2012 Julia Keller (P)2012 Brilliance Audio, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    51
  • 4 Stars
    37
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    33
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Performance

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Story

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joanne
  • Burlington, Ontario, Canada
  • 09-11-12

A wonderful treat!

I love mysteries for the suspense and the puzzles that are solved by the end of the book. The mysteries I enjoy the most contain multi-dimensional characters with plots being used to develop these characters. Even better, a story that explores a place I have never been and that leaves me with a sense of the smells, the sounds and the colours is a treat. Ms. Keller combines a tightly woven story with characters and a place I became deeply interested in. I don't feel that I have words that can express how much I enjoyed both the prose and the story itself. West Virginia now "lives" in my imagination, in the same way that James Lee Burke's St. John's Parish and Timothy Hallinan's Bangkok have come alive for me. Shannon McManus is superb. I highly recommend this book. Please write more stories about Bell, Ms. Keller.
P.S. I enjoyed the prose so much that I bought a Kindle copy of the book so that I could re-read certain passages. It really doesn't get much better than this!

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Liked it; but...

This one was a tough call for me. As a mountain born child who moved to the city; then returned to the mountains I relate to both the plot and the character. The characterizations of the townspeople was spot on, as was the lack of expectations for the majority of the area youth.
Now for the negatives. Belle Elkins was not a very likable main character and her daughter was even less so. The ending did not ring true either. it seemed almost as if she decided to redirect the narrative at the last moment. Hopefully Julia Keller's characters will become better as she continues the series. Though I was somewhat disappointed by this selection I will probably give the next book in the series a shot.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Can I Give Less Than 1 Star?

Would you try another book from Julia Keller and/or Shannon McManus?

Yes on McManus, No on Keller.

Has A Killing in the Hills turned you off from other books in this genre?

I don't think this book belongs in the genre it is supposed to be in. The story is all about rural West Virgina. The crime mystery is upstaged by the setting. The author describes a multitude of things in this book with great detail. It is interesting at first, but becomes mind numbingly tedious as the book goes on. The story could really have used some serious editing. You can tell that the author has some real writing talent, but she really comes up short when it comes to the plot.

What does Shannon McManus bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

She has a unique accent and tempo with her reading that I found very enjoyable.

What character would you cut from A Killing in the Hills?

Can we please cut Belfa, the main character, and start over? She is so unlikeable I found my self rooting for her demise.

Any additional comments?

There are so many things wrong with this book it is hard to pick out just a few. The story goes nowhere. The characters both good and bad do some of the dumbest things. The motivation of the characters is week.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling

West Virginia unvarnished, the communities ravaged by poverty and a meth invasion coupled with prescription drugs rampant. Compelling characters, narrator, two stories
intertwining. Unexpected ending and overall job welldone.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very well written mystery

Good mystery with beautiful descriptive prose. Interesting main characters with real world problems, thoughtfully handled.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Paula
  • Overland Park, KS USA
  • 12-19-12

A Plot, Prose and Metaphors Galore. . .

I can't bring myself to rave about this book, but I will give it a thumbs up. It is a good read, as opposed to a really great read. While some might find the countless metaphors and analogies the author used as great prose, at some point, they became redundant and predictable as you couldn't help but anticipate that another would be uttered. My favorite? ". . . (was) like grout oozing between ceramic tiles." Oh well. Good plot, interesting characters and a fine finish. Consider that my rave!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Riveting

If you enjoy murder, mystery, decete, and betrayal you will surely love this book. I know I did!

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great Book

If you could sum up A Killing in the Hills in three words, what would they be?

Beautifully written stunner.

What was one of the most memorable moments of A Killing in the Hills?

The last twist.

What about Shannon McManus’s performance did you like?

When I started the book, I thought she sounded too young, but after the first chapter I realized I was wrong. She did a great job defining the characters and her voice is very pleasing to the ear.

Any additional comments?

I purchased the first three books and forgot I had them. Starting the series was like finding a precious gem.

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not worth the time it took to listen.

What would have made A Killing in the Hills better?

If the charactors would have reacted more like real people do, if the situations had been realistic.... Really? A child kills her father who is trying to rape her little sister and is imprisoned for 29 years? Really? That child's sister grows up to be a criminal attorney and doesn't see a way to help her big sister? Really? A teen ager witnesses a bloody murder and Mom drops her off with a neighbor afterward? A 6 year old is killed and there is no formal investigation?

If the main charactor, Belfa, was a little more rounded and whole, not just a woman who repeatedly and tediously patted her teenager, calling her "Sweetie".

Has A Killing in the Hills turned you off from other books in this genre?

No, I'm still looking for more great myseries with a woman for the central charactor but great ones are few. I'm still looking for more charactors like V. I. Warshawski and Anna Pigeon and Kinsey Millhone. Belfa Elkins doesn't seem to be a whole person, she needs rounded out. She seems to consist of and be shaped by just a few things in her past.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Disappointment that the book wasn't what I had hoped for and sadness, at the West VIrginia she describes (apparently, the author sees nothing good in her home state).

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Accurate tale of small southern towns

Any additional comments?

It's slow to start in action after the killing, but all the information that takes so long to get across is necessary to really understand the characters and from where they come. Very insightful. Again not as action packed as I thought it would be but still a good read.