Each Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea shares the first part of a book that she is reading or thinking about reading. This week I'm sharing the first few paragraphs of A Killing In The Hills by Julia Keller. This is the first in the Bell Elkins mystery series and it was published in 2012. There are now four Elkins books, so I decided I better get started reading. See what you think:
She didn't come here often, because there was nothing left.
When she did come, it tended to be at dusk, and she would stand and look at the bare spot, at the place where the trailer had been. It was only a few dozen yards away from Comer Creek.
You could smell the creek, a damp rotting smell that was somehow also sweet, even before you could see it. The woods around it made a tight screen, as if the branches were gripping hands in a game of Red Rover. Daring you to break through. You could hear the creek, too, its nervous hum, especially in the early spring, when the frequent rains made the water run high and wild.
When she was a little girl, she would play on the banks of the creek in the summertime. Her sister Shirley kept an eye on her. In no time at all, Bell--her real name was Belfa but everybody called her Bell, because 'Belfa,' Shirley had told her, sounded dowdy, old-fashioned, like a name you'd hear at a quilting bee or a taffy pull, whatever that was--would get astonishingly muddy. Not that she cared. The mud squirted between her toes and drifted under her fingernails and stuck to her hair. Somehow it got smeared behind her ears, too, and across the back of her neck. Bell could remember how glorious it felt on those summer afternoons, playing in the mud, glazing herself with it. Soft and cool. A second skin. One that made her slippery all over. Hard to catch and hold.
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, WV. 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?
I've meant to start the Bell Elkins series for quite some time, having heard a lot of good feedback from other bloggers. The author is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and she's a native of the area where the book is set. Can't wait to get started. Have you read any books by Julia Keller?