Mary Higgins Clark–finalist Keller’s gloomy eighth Bell Elkins novel (after 2018’s Bone on Bone) finds the Acker’s Gap, W.Va., prosecutor turned PI stumbling upon a body stuffed in the ruins of Wellwood, a psychiatric hospital that burned to the ground decades earlier. After learning that the victim, Darla Gilley, died of blunt force trauma to the head, Bell works with her business partners, former sheriff Nick Fogelsong and former deputy Jake Oakes, to unravel the murder. They discover that tragedy has plagued the Gilley family for generations, including the murder of Darla’s grandmother who worked—and died—at Wellwood. Bell speculates that the two murders are somehow connected, and her sleuthing opens her eyes to a very dark history of psychiatric care during the mid-20th century. Unfortunately, unrelated albeit poignant subplots, such as Jake starting a family with his girlfriend, slow the action. Still, this is a strong addition to the series that can easily be read as a standalone. Agent: Lisa Gallagher, DeFiore & Co. (Aug.)
"A heartbreaking blues song of a novel, employing beauty to evoke despair while reminding readers that even in the darkest of days, there might also be light."Associated Press
“A gritty tale of despair, family pride, hope, and second chances.” Kirkus Reviews
“Keller's Bell Elkins series sets a standard for its evocation of place and for the sensitive portrayals of its characters, with Bell the most masterfully drawn of all. This is introspective, literary crime fiction at its best.” Booklist (starred review)
“This is a strong addition to the series that can easily be read as a standalone.” Publishers Weekly
“Keller’s lush prose and complex characters will draw readers in . . .” New York Journal of Books
“Delivered with Keller’s trademark eloquence and sense of moralityand a stunning twist“The Cold Way Home” exemplifies literary worth.” Fredericksburg Freelance Star
Three detectives whose lives have been badly damaged hunt for the truth about family murders generations apart.
Bell Elkins has seen the law from both sides (Bone On Bone, 2018, etc.). She's served as a West Virginia prosecuter and served a prison term for killing her abusive father when she was a child, a crime she is unable to remember. While she's waiting to reapply for her law license, Bell has joined two old friends—retired sheriff Nick Fogelsong, whose wife has filed for divorce, and Jake Oakes, a wheelchair-bound former cop shot in the line of duty—to form a detective agency that often helps the present district attorney, who's chronically short of money in a county whose citizens are frequently drug-addicted and desperately poor. Their latest case is to find Maggie Folsom's missing daughter, Dixie Sue. While looking for her, Bell goes to Briney Hollow, a place that awakens unwelcome childhood memories. Deep in the woods are the ruins of Wellwood, a state mental institution that burned down. The body Bell finds there is not that of Dixie Sue but Darla Gilley's, whose dying brother, Joe, was Nick's best friend in high school. Darla had parted ways with her alcoholic husband and was living in the attic of her family home, upstairs from Joe and his wife, Brenda. The estranged husband has an alibi, but he admits that Darla had recently found a book in the attic that had badly upset her. Bell's research and the family diary Darla mailed Nick before her death reveal horrifying information about the myriad lobotomies performed at Wellwood and the unsolved murder of the ancestor who wrote the diary. Bell is cheered by a new puppy, Nick is immersed in an affair, and Jake attempts to deal with his girlfriend's desire to have a baby of her own. But all are determined to put aside their own misfortunes to find Darla's killer.
A gritty tale of despair, family pride, hope, and second chances.