did not finish: A Killing in the Hills by Julia Keller (audio)

killing in the hillsI made it less than 20% of the way through this audiobook (28 of 156 tracks, if you like to be precise), so on the one hand I should go easy on it, not having read it to completion (or even close). But on the other hand, the fact that I quit so early does indicate my feelings about it.

I read good things about this debut mystery novel – somewhere – but can’t add to those praises. The setting in the West Virginia hills (or mountains) was promising at the start, and I liked the idea of our small-town female prosecutor and her troubled past; likewise her friendly, almost filial relationship with the much older sheriff. But there the character development ended. Our prosecutor hero, Bell, turns rather flat, and her teenage daughter Carla is far worse: a cariacature of the worst kind of whiny teen girl, she speaks in overly-self-aware brattiness, as if she were her own psychoanalyst which – hello – obnoxious teenagers are not. Similarly, the early bad guy is so hideously ugly in every feature as to be a cartoon – how easy to identify bad guys if they all looked like this! And he somehow simultaneously is a stark idiot, and shares Carla’s preternatural self-awareness. The dialog felt like nails on a chalkboard. And so I gave it up. The mystery remains unsolved, for me, and that’s just fine.

Narrator Shannon McManus was sometimes amusing, but sometimes a little overly dramatic (although a certain amount of that falls to the author, for sure). Her rendition of Carla I found unbearable, but that’s squarely on Julia Keller; that’s how Carla was written, I fear.

I’m happy for those who enjoyed this novel, but I am not among them.

Is it fair to rate a book I read this little of? Probably not.

One Response

  1. […] West Virginia to work as a prosecutor there. I tried to read (or actually, listen to) the first, A Killing in the Hills, and found the characters a bit flat. In a nutshell, Last Ragged Breath was very enjoyable, but did […]

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