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Sorrow Road    by Julia Keller order for
Sorrow Road
by Julia Keller
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, Softcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Sorrow Road is the fifth (following Last Ragged Breath) in Julia Keller's superlative and gritty mystery series starring prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins in Acker's Gap, West Virginia.

Bell's involvement begins when an old law school classmate, ex-federal prosecutor Darlene Strayer, asks to meet, and seeks her help in investigating the death of her beloved father Harmon in an Alzheimer's care facility, Thornapple Terrace. He had been getting increasingly agitated before he died. Darlene believes her dad was murdered but is short on evidence. Soon after they part, Darlene dies in a car crash on a dangerous switchback.

Reluctant at first (the man was over ninety), Bell gradually gets her teeth into the investigation. At the same time, she's dealing with problems on the personal front. Her daughter Carla, who had moved to Arlington, Virginia and postponed college, suddenly announces that she's coming home to Acker's Gap to reassess everything. She's in serious trouble, but takes her time letting her mom know what's going on.

As matters develop, the author takes readers back to 1938 when three boys (Harm, Alvie and Vic) shared a dark secret before heading to war together, participating in D-Day in 1944. One of them was Darlene's dad. Bell's suspicions rise when she learns that Harm's friend Vic was also killed - in a hit-and-run - a few months before Harm died. Soon Carla is involved in the case too, after she is hired by the local librarian to interview folk in the area and record their stories.

Of course, the case comes to a surprising resolution and Carla's crisis is addressed. Throughout, Keller brings her range of characters' surroundings to vibrant life, and casually incorporates in her story sage comments on topics like Alzheimer's and memory loss. I love her work and look forward to the next Bell Elkins mystery, Fast Falls the Night.

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