Sorrow Road

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Sorrow Road

Bell Elkins Novels

"Sorrow Road" is another atmospheric and complex mystery by Julia Keller.

Three young boys who were good friends growing up, and who all end up fighting in World War two together, harbor a dark secret until their dying days, which, despite their age appears to be coming a little too prematurely.

When Harmon Strayer dies at his health care facility, it is presumed his Alzheimer’s was to blame. However, his daughter, an old law school classmate of Bell’s, suspects something more sinister and asks Bell to investigate, which kicks off a chain of events that leads to murder and a string of stunning revelations.

Meanwhile, Carla has come home to Acker’s Gap after suffering a meltdown related to the ordeal she survived four years ago.

"Sorrow Road" is the fifth installment in the Bell Elkins series, but it’s okay to read these out of order. I read the first book only and was worried I may have missed out on too much in between, but as it turns out I had no trouble reading between the lines and falling in step with current events, if you will.

The West Virginia winter landscape provides a dark, gloomy, bitterly cold landscape that is a fitting backdrop which creates a sinister feeling of isolation, and is the perfect atmosphere for this heavy, bleak, and chilling crime story.

Keller is adept at drawing parallels between the case Bell is working on and the personal trials in her life, which reveals different facets of Bell’s life.

Carla has a penchant for being ‘too stupid to live’ sometimes and she should know better, but, despite her dramas and poor decision making skills, she does seem to take something away from her mistakes which is often profound and thought provoking.

While the previous installments may not be known for moving at warp speed, the pacing in this one is just a tad bit too slow, which of course affected the momentum.

My interest did wane around the midway mark and I found it difficult to stay focused. I ended up putting the book aside for long periods, reading it in small segments until the story began to recapture my imagination.

However, it was worth the extra effort when a few jaw dropping twists take place, which propels the story forward with a surge of adrenaline, fueling a real sense of dread.

Bell is still an enigma, but that is what makes her such an intriguing and compelling protagonist.

The secondary characters are also well defined, and the relationships between Bell and her colleagues have settled somewhat, making them a formidable team when they work together.

This story is chilling and poignant all at once and despite the struggles I experienced midway through, the novel firms up, bringing together all the various threads to achieve a solid literary mystery that will be well worth your time.


Book Blurb for Sorrow Road

In 1944, three young men from a small town in West Virginia are among the American forces participating in D-Day, changing the fortunes of the war with one bold stroke. How is that moment aboard a Navy ship as it barrels toward the Normandy shore related to the death of an old man in an Appalachian nursing home seventy-two years later?

In Sorrow Road, the latest mystery from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Julia Keller, two stories?one set in the turbulent era of World War II and one in the present day?are woven together to create a piercingly poignant tale of memory and family, of love and murder.

Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, is asked by an old acquaintance to look into the death of her beloved father in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Did he die of natural causes?or was something more sinister to blame? And that’s not the only issue with which Bell is grappling: Her daughter Carla has moved back home. But something’s not right. Carla is desperately hiding a secret.

Once again, past and present, good and evil, and revenge and forgiveness clash in a riveting story set in the shattered landscape of Acker’s Gap, where the skies can seem dark even at high noon, and the mountains lean close to hear the whispered lament of the people trapped in their shadow.


Night Owl Reviews Oct, 2016 3.50