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Customer Review

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Take me home, country roads.........", 26 Jun. 2012
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This review is from: A Killing in the Hills (Bell Elkins 1) (Hardcover)
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And, after an unsuccessful attempt at the big city, it's back to West Virginia for Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney. Despite a troubled childhood, a divorce and a rebellious daughter, she returns to her backwoods hometown, determined to do some good, especially in confronting the dealing of illicit prescription drugs which is apparently as big there as some of the crimes in "DC". Not surprisingly, those involved aren't happy with her.
So does it work as a novel? I'm afraid I was a bit disappointed with it. I guess I expected better from a Pulitzer winner but then they're awarded for a different form of writing [Keller's a journalist] and taking on the novel form has caught out a good many. I suppose also that, given the title [can you see the pun?] I'd expected something akin to the excellent Charles Frasier but it was not to be. So is it a crime novel? Well, no - not really. There are crimes, certainly,as a brutal killing in the first few pages testifies, but the only cop you'll come across is Sheriff Fogelsong [yup!], an avuncular figure who discusses problems with Bell over apple pie at the diner. And I think that's it - it's more about people than catching criminals. Her 'best friend' Ruth [OK, 'Ruthie'] has cancer, her husband Tom is a benevolent vet and what exactly are the ghosts relating to her sister? I found it altogether too 'folksy' and got fed up with everyone being called 'sweetie'.
Bell's daughter, Carla, who we meet on the first page, is a thoroughly unlikeable character. Full of teenage angst she may be but there's something unpleasant about her which stopped me feeling any sympathy for her, despite her experiences. And then the main [?] villain - who calls himself 'Chill'. He's thoroughly nasty and repulsive but yet not at all convincing. Too over-the-top perhaps.
Then there's a sort of sub-plot involving a case Bell's working on which I couldn't quite see the significance of and a car chase down a mountain which isn't handled at all well.
It's quite a readable book in its own way and many people may like it but I can't see it taking off, certainly not in the UK. Hailed as 'first in an exceptional new series' presumably with same first lady in same location, I'm afraid I won't be around for the others.
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