Julia Keller books in order
Julia Keller is an American award-winning journalist and author of mystery, science fiction, young adult fiction and non-fiction titles.
A native of Huntington, West Virginia, he holds a doctorate in English Literature from the Ohio State University, and has taught at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Notre Dame.
Right before becoming a full time novelist, Julia worked as the chief book critic and a staff writer at The Chicago Tribune for a number of years.
As a journalist, she excelled in her career and even won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.
The journalist turned author is best known for writing the critically acclaimed Belfa Elkins mystery series, set in her home state of West Virginia.
Genres: Fantasy / SF, Mystery, Non-fiction, Suspense, Young Adult
- Back Home (2009)
- A Killing in the Hills (2012)
- Bitter River (2013)
- Summer of the Dead (2014)
- A Haunting of the Bones: A Bell Elkins Novella (2014)
- The Devil's Step-Daughter: A Bell Elkins Novella (2014)
- Ghost Roll: A Bell Elkins Novella (2015)
- Last Ragged Breath (2015)
- Evening Street: A Bell Elkins Novella (2015)
- Sorrow Road (2016)
- Fast Falls the Night (2017)
- Bone on Bone (2018)
- The Cold Way Home (2019)
- The Tablet of Scaptur: A Dark Intercept Novella (2017)
- The Dark Intercept (2017)
- Dark Mind Rising (2018)
- Dark Star Calling (2019)
- Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It (2008)
- The Bell Elkins Series, Thus Far: A Killing in the Hills, Bitter River, Summer of the Dead, and Last Ragged Breath (2016)
Detailed book overview
“I guess you would call us a normal family. Once a month, and sometimes other times, too, Dad would be gone for a few days. Mom told us that he was in the National Guard. We were normal, you could say. And then we weren’t.”
Rachel “Brownie” Browning is thirteen when her father comes back from the war in Iraq. Of course she understands that he has been injured and that he will be a little different, at least for a while. But Brownie doesn’t even know the man with a prosthetic arm and leg who sits in the living room day after day. He’s certainly not the father who helped her build a fort in her backyard, or played basketball with her sister, or hauled her little brother around like a sack of potatoes.
Brownie’s mother says that because of his traumatic brain injury, their father needs their affection and patience. In time, he’ll be better–Dad will be back. But Dad doesn’t seem to be making much progress, or much effort. He doesn’t smile. He doesn’t talk. He won’t even get out of his wheelchair, even though the doctors have taught him how and say that walking is essential to his recovery. And Brownie begins to wonder, will her family ever be able to return to the way life was before the war?
A mother and a daughter try to do right by a town and each other before it's too late.
What's happening in Acker's Gap, West Virginia? Three elderly men are gunned down over their coffee at a local diner, and seemingly half the town is there to witness the act. Still, it happened so fast, and no one seems to have gotten a good look at the shooter. Was it random? Was it connected to the spate of drug violence plaguing poor areas of the country just like Acker's Gap? Or were Dean Streeter, Shorty McClurg, and Lee Rader targeted somehow?
One of the witnesses to the brutal incident was Carla Elkins, teenaged daughter of Bell Elkins, the prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, WV. Carla was shocked and horrified by what she saw, but after a few days, she begins to recover enough to believe that she might be uniquely placed to help her mother do her job.
After all, what better way to repair their fragile, damaged relationship? But could Carla also end up doing more harm than good―in fact, putting her own life in danger?
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.
It's high summer in Acker's Gap, a small town nestled in the beautiful but poverty-stricken West Virginia mountains―but no one's enjoying the rugged natural landscape. Not while a killer stalks the town and its hard-luck inhabitants.
County prosecutor Bell Elkins and her closest friend, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, are stymied by a murderer who seems to come and go like smoke on the mountain. At the same time, Bell must deal with the return from prison of her sister, Shirley―who, like Bell, carries the indelible scars of a savage past.
In the third mystery chronicling the journey of Bell Elkins and her return to her Appalachian hometown, we also meet Lindy Crabtree―a coal miner's daughter with dark secrets of her own, secrets that threaten to explode into even more violence. Acker's Gap is a place of loveliness and brutality, of isolation and fierce attachments―a place where the dead rub shoulders with the living, and demand their due.
Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney for Raythune C1ounty, West Virginia, had always believed what she'd been told: Her mother abandoned the family when Bell and her sister, Shirley, were children. Later, Teresa Dolan died somewhere out West.
And then comes a shattering discovery.
During an excavation in a remote area of the county, a skeleton is found. DNA testing proves it is related to DNA already on file: that of a convicted felon named Shirley Dolan. Along with the age and approximate time of death, the DNA link leads to a chilling conclusion: These are the remains of Bell's mother, Teresa Dolan. She didn't run away. She was here all along. And further examination reveals that she was a homicide victim.
Bell automatically pins the blame on her late father, Donnie Dolan. But evidence emerges that it could not have been him. And so Bell must solve the most agonizingly personal case of her career: Who murdered her mother?
A backstory into Bell Elkins's past.
The year Bell turns eleven, she's living with a foster family in the beautiful but poverty-stricken mountains of West Virginia, and Keller draws a heartbreaking portrait of the time in Bell's life that shaped her into a woman who believes in fierce justice and fighting back.
Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney and small-town heroine, faces one of her most challenging days yet...
For Bell Elkins no day is ever the same.
But on this day, for the third day running, Bell has woken up from the same dream. A dream about a boy needing her help, reaching out to her. Bell, always unable to help.
Already unsettled, she becomes embroiled, in her role as prosecuting attorney for Raythune County, in an investigation into a couple running a local day-care center, and Bell suspects that her day is only going to get worse. A suspicion that is compounded when she's forced to confront a friend's treachery and a ghost from her past.
No day is ever the same, but will Bell be forever changed by this one?
From the night-black depths of a coalmine to the sun-struck peaks of the Appalachian Mountains, from a riveting murder mystery to a poignant meditation on the meaning of love and family, the latest novel in the critically acclaimed series strikes out for new territory: the sorrow and outrage that spring from a real-life chapter in West Virginia history.
Royce Dillard doesn't remember much about the day his parents - and one hundred and twenty-three other souls - died in the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster. He was only two years old when he was ripped from his mother's arms. But now, Dillard, who lives off the grid with only a passel of dogs for company, is fighting for his life one more time; he's on trial for murder.
By day, she's a tough-minded prosecutor in Raythune County, West Virginia, a region scarred by poverty and prescription drug abuse. By night, Bell Elkins takes on a softer role. She volunteers at an auxiliary intensive care unit where nurses deal with the youngest and most vulnerable victims of drug abuse: the children born to mothers addicted to painkillers.
The place is known as Evening Street, and it is here Bell comes whenever she can spare the time. She rocks ailing infants to sleep, and she provides what medical science-for all of its marvels-cannot: A simple human touch.
One terrifying night, the distraught father of an Evening Street baby breaks into the facility. Gun in hand, he holds the staff hostage and demands a reckoning for a family grudge--with helpless infants only inches away.
And so begins a standoff at Evening Street. Bell Elkins is swept up into the crisis, as the drama escalates toward a lethal flashpoint. At the center of it all is a baby, only hours old, but already ancient in his knowledge of pain.
Two stories―one set in the turbulent era of World War II and one in the present day―are woven together to create a piercingly poignant tale of memory and family, of love and murder.
In 1944, three young men from a small town in West Virginia are among the American forces participating in D-Day, changing the fortunes of the war with one bold stroke. How is that moment aboard a Navy ship as it barrels toward the Normandy shore related to the death of an old man in an Appalachian nursing home seventy-two years later?
Bell Elkins, prosecuting attorney in Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, is asked by an old acquaintance to look into the death of her beloved father in an Alzheimer’s care facility. Did he die of natural causes―or was something more sinister to blame? And that’s not the only issue with which Bell is grappling: Her daughter Carla has moved back home. But something’s not right. Carla is desperately hiding a secret.
Once again, past and present, good and evil, and revenge and forgiveness clash in a riveting story set in the shattered landscape of Acker’s Gap, where the skies can seem dark even at high noon, and the mountains lean close to hear the whispered lament of the people trapped in their shadow.
Falls the Night takes place in a single 24-hour period, unfurling against the backdrop of a shattering personal revelation that will change Bell’s life forever.
The first drug overdose comes just after midnight, when a young woman dies on the dirty floor of a gas station bathroom. To the people of the small town of Acker’s Gap, West Virginia, it is just another tragedy. It is sad―but these days, depressingly familiar.
But then there is another overdose. And another. And another.
Prosecutor Bell Elkins soon realizes that her Appalachian hometown is facing its starkest challenge yet: a day of constant heroin overdoses from a batch tainted with a lethal tranquilizer. While the clock ticks and the bodies fall, Bell and her colleagues desperately track the source of the deadly drug―and engage in fierce debates over the wisdom of expending precious resources to save the lives of self-destructive addicts.
How far would you go for someone you love? Would you die? Would you kill?
After a three-year prison sentence, Bell Elkins is back in Acker's Gap. And she finds herself in the white-hot center of a complicated and deadly case -- even as she comes to terms with one last, devastating secret of her own.
A prominent local family has fallen victim to the same sickness that infects the whole region: drug addiction. With mother against father, child against parent, and tensions that lead inexorably to tragedy, they are trapped in a grim, hopeless struggle with nowhere to turn.
Bell has lost her job as prosecutor -- but not her affection for her ragtag, hard-luck hometown. Teamed up with former Deputy Jake Oakes, who battles his own demons as he adjusts to life as a paraplegic, and aided by the new prosecutor, Rhonda Lovejoy, Bell tackles a case as poignant as it is perilous, as heartbreaking as it is challenging.
Deep in the woods just outside Acker's Gap, West Virginia, rises a ragged chunk of what was once a high stone wall. This is all that remains of Wellwood, a psychiatric hospital for the poor that burned to the ground decades ago. And it is here that Bell Elkins – prosecutor turned private investigator – makes a grim discovery while searching for a missing teenager: A dead body, marred by a ghastly wound that can only mean murder.
To solve the mystery of what happened in these woods where she played as a child, Bell and her partners – former sheriff Nick Fogelsong and former deputy Jake Oakes – must confront the tangled history of Wellwood and its dark legacy, while each grapples with a private torment.
In the 23rd century, there is a radiant world of endless summer where peace is maintained through emotional surveillance performed by a peculiar device called the Intercept.
When Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, is smuggled an artifact covered mysterious markings, it's up to her and her friends to decipher the message.
When the state controls your emotions, how hard will you fight to feel free?
In a radiant world of endless summer, the Intercept keeps the peace. Violet Crowley, the sixteen-year-old daughter of New Earth’s Founding Father, has spent her life in comfort and safety. Her days are easy thanks to the Intercept, a crime-prevention device that monitors emotion.
But when her long-time crush, Danny Mayhew, gets into a dangerous altercation on Old Earth, Violet launches a secret investigation to find out what he's hiding. An investigation that will lead her to question everything she's ever known about Danny, her father, and the power of the Intercept.
When the state is no longer watching, what will you give to feel safe?
New Earth, 2296. Two years after the destruction of a universal surveillance system called the Intercept, New Earth struggles to keep crime under control. The citizens are free, but not protected.
Violet Crowley, the eighteen-year-old daughter of New Earth's founder, has opened Crowley & Associates, a private detective agency, to handle the overflow from the overburdened police force.
Violet's first case―a death written off as a suicide―becomes an obsession. Soon a series of similar deaths leads Violet to believe the Intercept is not only still running―it's in the hands of a killer.
Out in the observatory, protruding from the vast gap in the roof, was the giant telescope. It stared unblinkingly into the night sky, its gaze peering deep into the wilderness of stars. Somewhere within that wilderness was the single star Rez was determined to find.
New Earth, 2297. A year after the resurrection of a universal surveillance system called the Intercept, New Earth is collapsing. Humanity is depending on a group of five friends to find them all a new home.
Humanity's fate rests in the hands of Violet Crowley, a headstrong rebel and former detective turned hopelessly mediocre politician; Shura Lu, scientific genius and magnificently gifted artist; Kendall Mayhew, New Earth's Chief of Police; Tin Man Tolliver, Kendall's top deputy; and Steven J. Reznik, aka "Rez," NESA Director and Chief Technologist.
Together they discovered their utopian home is on an unstoppable collision course with Earth. Together they look to the stars to find a world suitable for human life and what they find there―or rather who―will change them all forever.
A provocative look at the life and times of the man who created the original weapon of mass destruction.
Drawing on her investigative and literary talents, Julia Keller offers a riveting account of the invention of the world's first working machine gun.
Through her portrait of its misunderstood creator, Richard Jordan Gatling-who naively hoped that the overwhelming effectiveness of a multiple-firing weapon would save lives by decreasing the size of armies and reducing the number of soldiers needed to fight-Keller draws profound parallels to the scientists who would unleash America's atomic arsenal half a century later.
The Gatling gun, in its combination of ingenuity, idealism, and destructive power, perfectly exemplifies the paradox of America's rise in the nineteenth century to a world superpower.
Here together for the first time in an eBook bundle are her critically acclaimed Bell Elkins novels:
A Killing in the Hills
When prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins’s daughter, Carla, witnesses a shooting at a local diner, she realizes that she might be able to identify the shooter. What better way to repair a fragile, damaged relationship with her mother than to help her do her job?
16-year-old Lucinda Trimble’s body is found at the bottom of Bitter River—but she didn’t drown, she was dead before she hit the water. Searching for the truth behind both Lucinda's murder and her own complicated relationships leads Bell down a path that puts her life at risk.
Summer of the Dead
Bell Elkins and Sheriff Nick Fogelsong are stymied by a murderer who seems to come and go like smoke on the mountain. Meanwhile Lindy Crabtree, a coal miner's daughter, is keeping dark secrets of her own, secrets that threaten to explode into even more violence.
Last Ragged Breath
Royce Dillard doesn't remember much about the day his parents—and one hundred and twenty-three other souls—died in the 1972 Buffalo Creek disaster. Now Dillard is fighting for his life one more time: He's on trial for murder. Prosecutor Bell Elkins faces her toughest challenge yet in this haunting story of vengeance, greed and the fierce struggle for social justice.