A Killing in the Hills
Paperback: 448 pages
28 Mar 2013
As a debut crime novel, readers will be hard pushed to find a more captivating read than Julia Heller’s A Killing in the Hills, which brings Prosecuting Attorney Bell Elkins to glorious life.
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, visitors see only Ackers Gap for its stunning natural beauty. But for those living there it's a different story. The mountain roads harbour secret places, perfect for making the prescription drugs that tempt it’s desperately poor and as winter sets in, Bell finds her family in danger when her daughter, Carla, witnesses the seemingly random murder of three old men.
Keller gets brilliantly beneath the skin of her characters and brings out not only their humanity but also their flaws with great panache. The pace is relentless, although it is the vivacity of the author’s gift for description that truly marks this novel out as a must read. West Virginia becomes a living, breathing thing at her hand yet Keller, however, never labours the plot with unnecessary devices that often serve merely to “pad” novels out. Everything is relevant and important in the telling of a well rounded, highly polished story that simply glitters and the quality of the writing borders on the poetic and lifts Julia Keller well above many of her peers.
A quality debut from an author who can be said to have stamped her credentials in big bold letters all across her work at the first time of asking.