W.Va. is backdrop for ‘Summer of the Dead’
Pulitzer winner Julia Keller, a native of West Virginia writes another novel of crime set in Acker’s Gap in “Summer of the Dead.”
County prosecutor Bell Elkins is facing work and home stress. Her sister, Shirley, is back from prison, and is causing all sorts of problems for Bell at home. But childhood trauma they both faced keeps Bell trying to help Shirley, even as she seems to be deteriorating. When one of the sketchy people Shirley knows is involved in a stabbing, Bell finds herself involved in the case. And her daughter may be coming home soon after spending sometime with Bell’s ex.
While Bell is trying to take care of her family, another young woman is doing the same. Lindy Crabtree has led a quiet existance with her older parents, and now caring for her coal miner father since her mother’s death. Lindy’s father has deteriorated, not only in body but in mental state, and Lindy has done what she can for him, but is he dangerous? Why is he sneaking out late at night? Lindy takes solace in the books she orders that arrive by mail, the friendly mail carrier one of the only people she talks to much and works the late shift at her job. But is someone out there, watching Lindy?
Meanwhile, another person ends up dead in a lonely stretch of countryside. It seems that there may be a murderer on the loose, and Bell and the Sheriff, Nick Fogelsong, may soon be up to their ears in criminal investigations. Can Bell bring peace to her family and to her small town?
This is a moody, atmospheric story, with a cast of characters inhabiting the small town world in West Virginia. There’s plenty of secrets, twists and surprises within the pages and the characters are developed and realistic.
“Summer of the Dead” is published by Minotaur Books. It is $25.99 and 354 pages long.