Brooke County Libraries are excited to feature west virginia fiction author Julia Keller. She's a reader favorite of mystery lovers not just the home state we share.
Keller was born in Huntington, West Virginia and lived there throughout her early life. Her father was a mathematics professor who taught at Marshall University. She graduated from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and earned a doctoral degree in English literature from Ohio State University. Her master's thesis was an analysis of the Henry Roth novel, Call It Sleep.
Keller was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University from the period of 1998 to 1999. She has taught at Princeton University, the University of Notre Dame, and the University of Chicago. She also has served four times as a juror for the Pulitzer Prizes. Her reviews and commentary air on National Public Radio and on The Newshour (PBS).
Keller began her career as a journalist as an intern for columnist Jack Anderson. She went on to work for over 25 years as a reporter for many major newspapers, including the Columbus Dispatch, The Daily Independent, and the Chicago Tribune. She joined the staff of the Chicago Tribune in late 1998. She was formerly employed as a cultural critic for the Chicago Tribune, but left her job in 2012 to write full-time.
Keller won the annual Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for her three-part narrative account of the deadly Utica, Illinois tornado outbreak, published by the Chicago Tribune in April 2004. The jury called it a "gripping, meticulously reconstructed account of a deadly 10-second tornado". The Tribune has won many Pulitzers but Keller's prize was its first win for feature writing.
In 2008, Keller wrote a nonfiction book that detailed the cultural impact of the Gatling gun. In 2012, she started publishing a series of mysteries, The Bell Elkins Mysteries, that details a woman's return to Appalachia and the mysteries that abound in her home town. The first book in the series. starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Kirkus, and Booklist. It was also a winner of the Barry Award for Best First Mystery.
What if you lost almost everything that gave your life meaning?
What happens next?
That’s the stark question faced by Belfa Elkins in The Cold Way Home, the eighth novel in the critically acclaimed series. Bell has lost her job as prosecutor. She has lost her beloved sister. And for a time, she even lost her freedom.
Now she must rebuild her life, step by step, and she must do so in the brooding shadow of the mountains.
When she’s asked to help find a missing teenage girl, Bell is thrust into the middle of a savage murder case whose roots reach deep in the haunted soil of Appalachia. Near the ruins of a psychiatric facility where forgotten souls were once at the mercy of a ghastly real-life medical procedure, a dead body is found.
The Bell Elkins series is a captivating, lyrical blend of gritty crime fiction and poignant family drama, of topical social issues and timeless human truths. Within one woman’s story, the story of West Virginia—bleak and battered yet beautiful—spreads its wounded radiance like a sunrise over those mountains.g