Bitter River by Julia Keller
Narrator: Shannon McManus
Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
Date Read: 2013
Genre: Legal Thriller, Police Thriller, Thriller
In the next stunning novel from Pulitzer Prize-winning Julia Keller, following the popular A Killing in the Hills, a pregnant teenager is found murdered at the bottom of a river.Phone calls before dawn are never good news. And when you’re the county’s prosecuting attorney, calls from the sheriff are rarely good news, either. So when Bell Elkins picks up the phone she already knows she won’t like what she’s about to hear, but she’s still not prepared for this: 16-year-old Lucinda Trimble’s body has been found at the bottom of Bitter River. And Lucinda didn't drown—she was dead before her body ever hit the water.With a case like that, Bell knows the coming weeks are going to be tough. But that’s not all Bell is coping with these days. Her daughter is now living with Bell’s ex-husband, hours away. Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, one of Bell’s closest friends, is behaving oddly. Furthermore, a face from her past has resurfaced for reasons Bell can’t quite figure. Searching for the truth, both behind Lucinda’s murder and behind her own complicated relationships, will lead Bell down a path that might put her very life at risk.In Bitter River, Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Keller once again weaves a compelling, haunting mystery against the stark beauty and extreme poverty of a small West Virginia mountain town.
Publisher: Brilliance Audio, Macmillan
Series: Bell Elkins #2
Listened for Review (Brilliance)
Overall Rating: 3.50
Story Rating: 3.50
Character Rating: 3.50
Audio Rating: 3.50 (not part of the overall rating)
First Thought when Finished: Bitter River was an interesting story but a little bit too all over the place! (Plus I thought the final twist was out of left field).
Story Thoughts: Essentially this is how Bitter River played out for me: The small town case was strong, interesting, and kept me guessing. The big worldly case was boring, easy to figure out, and was entirely to distracting to be entertaining at all. In other words, this story was good when it was focused but it seems to me that the author was trying to cram too much into one story. I am not sure if it was a page count thing or she just didn’t think the main story was “exciting” enough. To me, it was overkill and took some enjoyment out of it. That being said, the writing was very good and I would give this author another whirl.
Character Thoughts: In mystery/thrillers, characters are often secondary to me. I need them to hold their own but the case is what first and foremost must be engaging. In Bitter River, Bell is an interesting lead and while not likable all the time I could root for her. I also liked Sheriff Nick. I felt drawn to his catch 22 and it was interesting to see him work through it. Both of these characters were easy to read and root for.
Narrated By Shannon McManus / Length: 11 hrs and 58 mins
Shannon did a pretty good job with Bell’s voice but I had a problem with her voice for Nick. I just didn’t click with it. That being said, she was pretty good with all the other voices (male and female) and her pacing was spot-on. I will probably continue this on audio because now I am used to Nick’s voice. Plus, on a whole I really like how Shannon narrates.
Final Thoughts: I am interested to see what is in store for Bell and Nick after the final few chapters. I will be reading the next one.