A Killing in the Hills
Minotaur, Aug 21 2012, $24.99
At the Salty Dawg restaurant in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, seventeen year old Carla Elkins waits for her divorced mom, Raythune County’s prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins, to arrive. Instead the teen watches in horror as a gun man shoots in the heads three elderly men (sexagenarian Daniel Dean Streeter, septuagenarian Paul Arnold “Shorty” McClurg, and octogenarian Ralph Leroy Rader) drinking coffee together. The trio dies instantly.
Sheriff Fogelsong leads the investigation in which many saw the horror unfold, none can describe the executioner. Bell, who has worked closely with Fogelsong on illegal prescription drug trafficking, joins the inquiry. Meanwhile Carla, displaying teen resilience by recovering emotionally rather quickly, decides she is best suited to helping her estranged mom find the killer and get closer to her mother too. At the same tome the local drug chief puts a bounty on Bell.
A Killing In The Hills is a terrific Appalachia murder mystery with a strong cast who brings to life dying in the hopeless whirlpool of poverty. The mother and daughter duet keep the vivid tale focused, but it is the residence of Acker’s Gap who turns Julia Keller’s thriller into one of the best regional whodunits of the year.