Advance reader reviews of Bitter River by Julia Keller.

Bitter River

A Bell Elkins Novel

By Julia Keller

Bitter River
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Sep 2013,
    400 pages.

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book

Buy This Book

Page 3 of 4
There are currently 24 member reviews
for Bitter River
Order Reviews by:
  • Patricia H. (Norman, OK)

    Real Characters
    I love a good mystery. But I really love a good mystery with characters who could easy be my next door neighbor. The whodunit part was sort of obvious but the reasons for it were not so one couldn't be sure. The main character was a strong but not necessarily confident woman, which is a great theme, not to have the superwoman. Other characters helped make the story a different kind of mystery read. Wonderful book and I will read more by this author. Although mystery solved, am hoping for a sequel to find out how the personal chapter in her life is resolved.
  • Mary Margaret F. (North Venice, FL)

    Bitter River
    When I was notified that I would be reviewing this book, I read Julia Keller's debut novel so I was already familiar with Belfa Elkins and the complex characters surrounding her in Ackers Gap.
    I thought that this was a good read with story lines weaving their way throughout the book with suspense, well-developed characters and the author's love for the setting permeating the piece. Belfa personifies West Virginia and I look forward to the next book featuring this strong female character.
  • Minnesota book lover

    Wild West Virginia
    I have lived in a small town for 35 years and in all that time there has never been the amount of crime and violence as Acker's Gap, West Virginia, the small town in Bitter River, experiences within a few weeks. Leaving aside the need to suspend disbelief, though, this is a readable and fairly interesting crime procedural. The main characters are people one would like to know. Some of the peripheral characters (of whom there are too many) are a little one-dimensional, but the plot moves along in spite of that. And the solution to the primary "whodunit" is not at all obvious. Overall, a book worth reading if one enjoys crime/mystery novels.
  • Aleksandra E. (Alpharetta, GA)

    At times times annoying
    I enjoyed the character development & the building mystery found within the beginning of the book. Learning about the characters in this small town was initially intriguing although at times I found them difficult to keep straight.

    What I could not understand and did not enjoy was the story sub-plot. I found it ultimately irrelevant and distracting. In the end, I never got that "ahaaa" moment I was so hoping for.
  • Kenneth T. (Houston, TX)

    Turbulance isn't limited to
    Life is usually messy. We may have problems at work, at home, with family or the plumbing. Books don't often involve the reader in the multiple problems of its characters. "Bitter River" manages to do it well. Belfa Elkins, divorced mother and Prosecuting Attorney, is a mess. A younger lover, a murder that strikes close to home, a mysterious stranger... You get the picture. Julia Keller pulls it off. The disparate characters get enough time to develop so that we care and the denouement works. I loved the fact that the setting was hardscrabble West Virginia, the heroine was a mess and though life remains chaotic, we wouldn't want any other way.
  • Diane C. (Nashville, TN)

    Whole Lotta Twisted Going-ons
    Bell is as tough as the mountains that cradle the small town of Acker's Gap, where she serves as County Prosecutor. Hell, there sure is a lot of criminal activity in that place! You got a young girl murdered, some crazy guy shooting an elderly lady, and terrorist blowing up the oldest building in town. This is in addition to the ordinary business of sneaky love trysts, troubled families, and missing sisters. Folks trust their sharp-as-a-nettle prosecutor to sort it all out. And she does, in the colorful way of a mountain woman who might be a bit excessive with her metaphors and similes, but never with her big ol' generous heart.
  • Nancy C. (Newton, KS)

    Bitter River
    Julia Keller writes a mesmerizing murder, suspense novel that carries the reader along at a fast pace; almost like it would be if floating down the Bitter River. The currents and eddies of this novel take us into the small town of Acker's Gulch, West Virginia. The team of Bell, the county prosecutor, and Nick, the sheriff, are faced with the murder of a young, pregnant high school girl. Keller's visual writing style makes the town and her characters come alive for the reader. I encourage you to pick up this great murder mystery - you will have trouble putting down.
Member Benefits

Join Now!

Check the advantages!
Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year

    • FREE
    • MEMBER
    • Range of media reviews for each book
    • Excerpts of all featured books
    • Author bios, interviews and pronunciations
    • Browse by genre
    • Book club discussions
    • Book club advice and reading guides
    • BookBrowse reviews and "beyond the book" back-stories
    • Reviews of notable books ahead of publication
    • Free books to read and review (US Only)
    • Browse for the best books by time period, setting & theme
    • Read-alike suggestions for thousands of books and authors
    • 'My Reading List" to keep track of your books
Sign up, win books!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Valley of Amazement
    by Amy Tan
    "Mirror, Mirror on the wall
    I am my mother after all!"

    In my pre-retirement days as a professor ...
  • Book Jacket: A Man Called Ove
    A Man Called Ove
    by Fredrik Backman
    Reading A Man Called Ove was like having Christmas arrive early. Set in Sweden, this debut novel is ...
  • Book Jacket
    The Search
    by Geoff Dyer
    All hail the independent publisher! In May 2014, Graywolf Press brought two of long-revered British ...

First Impressions

Members read and review books ahead
of publication. See what they think
in First Impressions!

Books that
expand your

Visitors can view a lot of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only

Find out more.

Book Discussions
Book Jacket

Tomlinson Hill
by Chris Tomlinson

Published Jul. 2014

Join the discussion!

Win this book!
Win The Angel of Losses

The Angel of Losses

"Family saga, mystery, and myth intersect in Feldman's debut novel." - Booklist


Word Play

Solve this clue:

E C H A Silver L

and be entered to win..

Books thatinspire you.Handpicked.

Books you'll stay up all night reading; books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, books that will expand your mind and inspire you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.