Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Summer of the Dead (Bell Elkins, #3)” as Want to Read:
Summer of the Dead (Bell Elkins, #3)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Summer of the Dead

(Bell Elkins #3)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  1,795 ratings  ·  228 reviews
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 o ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published July 28th 2015 by Minotaur Books (first published 2014)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Summer of the Dead, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Summer of the Dead

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,795 ratings  ·  228 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Summer of the Dead (Bell Elkins, #3)
Christine
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third Bell Elkins novel. I have previously read ‘A Killing in the Hills’ and ‘Bitter River’. I fell in love with Bell and the wonderful writing style of Julia Keller.

On this occasion, we meet coal miner’s daughter, nineteen year old Lindy. Lindy is now a carer for her father, who is failing both mentally and physically. Her father seems to have some kind of dementia and is living in the past, reliving his mining days in the squalor of the cellar.

We have previously only heard of Bell’
...more
Vicki
Mar 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Very mixed; probably 2.5. Keller is a lovely writer, very evocative, clearly loves words and descriptions. For 3/4 of the book, I was hooked but I found myself skimming the last 1/4. I think in part because I was getting tired of the constant descriptions of a place that she tries to make relatable but ends up describing it as one stop short of hell. I know there are places like this, of course, but it is beat into the reader on most pages. The child abuser, for example, has no teeth, spits, doe ...more
Richard
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
This is crime literature at its best; strong on plot but all about ordinary people and their relationships. Bell Elkins has returned to her 'home' Acker's Gap in Reythune County to serve as their prosecuting attorney alongside her childhood friend Sheriff Nick Fogelsong.
During a simmering hot Summer as series of baffling murders frustrate the law enforecement agencies and leave the local inhabitants on edge.
What I really enjoy about Julia Keller's writing is its richness it terms of illustrati
...more
Vivian
3.5 star read

It's summer time in Ackers Gap, West Virginia and the heat is oppressive. If dealing with the summer heat wasn't bad enough, Bell Elkins and the residents of Acker's Gap, West Virginia are also dealing with the fear left behind from a senseless murder. It's only been a few months since the return of Bell's sister, Shirley, and the awful murder of a teenage girl, as well as the spree of murders by a terrorist seeking revenge against one of Bell's friends only in town for a visit. Bel
...more
Carol
Apr 13, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series, fiction
The Hook - Catching up on Bell Elkins Series by Julia Keller.

The Line(s)”Bell wandered over to the window. The brown drapes were tied off on either side. She looked out through the clear glass but didn’t see a thing; she was too preoccupied. How was it that you could look out a window and not see beyond your own thoughts?”

The Sinker – Series are often problematic for me. I prefer stand-alone novels where there’s a beginning, middle, and an ending. I don’t mind if the ending leaves me up in th
...more
Kristen
Jan 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Julia Keller's The Season of the Dead, the 3rd installment in the Bell Elkins thriller series, it was one hot summer when the crime rate went up a notch. For Bell Elkins, the county prosecutor for Acker's Gap, West Virginia, she had a full plate on her hands. First her sister Shirley has been released from prison to start her new free life, while she waited for her daughter Carla to visit her that summer. But as she investigated the murder of Freddie Arnett, things took a dangerous turn for t ...more
Jo
Aug 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
County prosecutor Belfa Elkins faces many personal and professional challenges in Julia Keller’s third mystery, Summer of the Dead.

Bell’s sister Shirley is living with her while trying to piece together a new life after spending 30 years in prison for killing their abusive father. Bell’s beloved teen daughter Carla decides to not come home for the summer so she can work in London. And then an old man is stabbed to death in his driveway while fixing a car for his grandson. When a second man is m
...more
Judy Hilvers
Julia Keller was the literary critic for the Chicago Tribune. I valued her perspectives and, after reading books she reviewed, found I most often agreed with her critiques and observations. Since she began releasing her own books I have purchased and read each. The third, like the first two, is well written in an intellectual, lyrical and descriptive style. Keller vividly describes the Appalachian town of Acker's Gap and you really envision, smell and hear the sounds of this very poor, very trou ...more
Hilary
May 03, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Found this book a bit slow and repetitive in places. Although described as a beautiful writer, I did not agree but an opinion is just that, an opinion. First time reading this author and although the synopsis sounds good, I really just wanted to finish it and get on to something better. Basically a story about murder and corruption but not pacey or interesting enough to recommend. As I said, just an opinion.
Sandy
We’re back in Acker’s Gap with Prosecutor Bell and I just wasn’t loving this novel as well as I have the previous two. I believe it was because I didn’t like everything being tied up in the final couple chapters of the novel. The novel’s creepiness and darkness settled in from the beginning and held its grip throughout the novel. It wasn’t until the very end did I feel the weight being lifted off the town. It’s like walking into a dark tunnel and finally after your eyes have adjusted to the dark ...more
Annie
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I like this author. I got this book on clearance and B&N, and because on the cover was a comment from Michael Connelly, my all-time favorite author about how the main character in this story was one of the most "fully realized character character in fiction today", and for $5 I got it.

Good story and yes Bell the main character is a good one. Interesting plot, one character deals with PTSD from working in the mines of WV, and how he lives in the cellar that his daughter made to mimic a m
...more
Barbara Nutting
Mar 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
When I read the other reviews I sometimes wonder if I read the same book! As usual her editor must have been napping - since when can felons on parole own and operate bars and why is Shirley allowed to hang out in one filled with drunks and derelicts? Isn’t it pretty lazy to have three characters named Charlie? There are more descriptive passages than crime scenes - just a very ho hum boring book. I hope the author treasures her Pulitzer because she isn’t going to get another!!
Gail
Apr 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more like a 3-1/2. The book started rather slow for me but after I got into it, I enjoyed it. This is the third book in the series and the first one I have read and there were a few references to things that happened earlier which I assume are in the earlier books. There were some good plot twists that I didn't see coming. I have the second book of the series and plan on reading it, I liked the main character and look forward to learning more about her. ...more
Christopher Williams
Another enjoyable read in this series set in West Virginia. Bell's sister Shirley appears in the books for the first time, after release from prison. Apparently random killings of two men shake the town of Acker's Gap and the plot takes off from here. Have to say this became more convoluted as it progressed and had a twist at the end which, I think, was actually believable. ...more
Rose
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This third entry in the Bell Elkins mysteries is as compelling as the first two (and the fourth, which I actually read first!), and just as beautifully written. Keller has created a believable, interesting character in Bell, a prosecuting attorney in small-town West Virginia who, while definitely the "good guy" fighting the bad ones, has her own flaws and demons which often get in her way. She's tempered somewhat by her long-time friend, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, and together they try to piece tog ...more
Judy D Collins
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

SUMMER OF THE DEAD by Julia Keller, is part of a series as the third installment (Bell Elkins Series #3) and boy oh boy, is Bell is in the middle of all sorts of problems— crime, mystery, and high drama in the old mining town of Acker’s Gap, West Virginia.

As Bell returns to her Appalachian hometown, readers meet bookworm, Lindy Crabtree—a coal miner's daughter with dark secrets of her own—secre
...more
Deborah
Belfa (Bell) Elkins is the Raythune County Prosecutor who returned to her hometown some years before. She seems to have settled back into life in Acker's Gap but is grappling with: the arrival of her sister Shirley (recently released from prison after 30 years); her daughter who seemingly prefers to spend time in the city with Bell's ex husband; and the silent treatment she's receiving from her lover - who's away receiving rehab for recent injuries.

Bell's foul mood is exacerbated by the absence
...more
Mary Nuttelman
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Julia Keller has written about rural West Virginia the way Karin Slaughter has written about rural Georgia and this third outing in the series is no exception. The poor rural setting and subsequent lives of its inhabitants are palpable. This time out, Belfa "Bell" Elkins, county prosecutor for the small Appalachian town of Ackers Gap, deals with what might be a serial killer on the loose. As with the previous title in the series, the ending was a "didn't see that one coming" moment. ...more
Helenk
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book in this series and I believe by far the best one. The author does a great job with the recurring characters. Life in this very poor coal mining town is hard and it’s inhabitants struggle to survive. Some are beaten down by drugs and poverty but others manage to pull themselves up from the morass. I’m looking forward to securing book four. Highly recommend although there is much that is sad
Brenda
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Over the top

I would give this one a six if I could! The plot was over the top, filled with a murder mystery, an old man whose mind comes and goes and a devious plot to do whatever it takes to save a life. The emotion written into this one was electric, sometimes jarring with the feelings that the characters shared. I can't wait to read the next book in the Bell Elkins series!
...more
Shivangi
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tbh, even with everything it had going on, it was so boring. I feel it's probably because the writing itself was so monotone, it made the whole thing heavy and brought it down. I only finished it because I've bought it but it took me ages. Not grasping at all. Very disappointed. ...more
Ginnie
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Summer is not off to an auspicious beginning in Acker's Gap, West Virginia. after not one but two murders. The crimes seem totally unrelated and totally senseless. People are frightened. You can tell by the quiet streets, the deserted play areas, and the angry calls to Bell Elkins, the county's prosecuting attorney, and her friend and coworker, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong. Citizens demand that the murderer or murderers be brought to justice immediately but investigators are coming up empty-handed.

Ril
...more
Ginnie
May 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summer is not off to an auspicious beginning in Acker's Gap, West Virginia. after not one but two murders. The crimes seem totally unrelated and totally senseless. People are frightened. You can tell by the quiet streets, the deserted play areas, and the angry calls to Bell Elkins, the county's prosecuting attorney, and her friend and coworker, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong. Citizens demand that the murderer or murderers be brought to justice immediately but investigators are coming up empty-handed.

Ril
...more
Eleanor
Well, I finally did it. I broke down and took advantage of Cloud Library, offered by my local library, to download a book in their collection to my iPad to read. The service I use offered by two other libraries I have membership with which allows me to download to my Kindle has not had this book in their catalog, and I just really wanted to get over the hump.

First, let me just say this - reading on an iPad/iPhone/computer screen is definitely not as pleasant as reading on a Kindle, which is not
...more
M. Sprouse
Jul 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
I usually like to read a series of book with the same main character in the order they were written. However, circumstances didn't allow that with this book. So let me say that this is my first book in the Bell Elkins series. Maybe that's why I felt a bit lost for about the first 80 pages or so.

The book seemed to settle and focus more on the actual events and solving the murders about 100 pages in. Ms Keller has all the skills of a fine writer and I enjoyed the middle part of this novel. In the
...more
Kelly PT
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I grew up watching all sortd of crime tv-shows, so reading mystery police novels is something that I try to enjoy, although sometimes is hard to enjoy, because sometimes the plot is too predictable. But the summer of Dead is different. And the finale gave me chills!

I bought this in Barnes and Noble a year and a half ago and I left it at home for a while, I did not touch it, summer passed and it is now -chritmass break from work- that I found myself looking for something to read, and why not fro
...more
Peacejanz
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: completed
Bell Elkins has returned to her West Virginia hometown with a law degree, a divorce, and a desire to help the very poor people of this area. Bell is quickly elected county prosecutor and works closely with the sheriff to help solve crimes. One man has been murdered, then another. Bell thinks there might be a connection but can not get a clue. Meanwhile her daughter is living with the father and now he has found her a summer internship in London. She is eager to go; Bell is lonely and having a di ...more
Neva Womack
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book by Julia Keller was slow starting but worth sticking it out to the finish. It takes place in the Appalachian community of Acker's Gap, West Virginia. It was once a flourishing mining town now just barely in existence. The lead character prosecutor Belfa (Bell) Elkins is a dynamic character with a troubling past. When several murders occur in her town, it is left to her to solve them. There are many twists and turns with a surprise ending that I almost figured out ahead of time. I recei ...more
Colin Mitchell
Dec 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
This one is not quite as engaging as the first two in the series but nevertheless a good read. Belfa Elkins is one her high horse again as she and the sheriff are on the trail of what could be a serial killer and Lindy Odell is struggling to care for her ex miner father Odell. Somewhere along these all meet up with explosive consequences. Add in the factors of Bell's daughter Carla, now with her ex in Washington and Shirley, Bell's sister and these make for a good read. I do struggle with unders ...more
Kendra
Dec 01, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really, really want to give a book in this series 4 stars because I'm enjoying reading them, but so far, I just can't. I think that by book 3, Keller has really started to settle in to these characters and this world, but the things that happen just continue to be outlandish and over the top. By the end of this book, I felt like the author had just thrown a bunch of plot ideas at a wall and kept everything that stuck. She needs to bring a touch more reality to the crimes happening in Acker's G ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Do No Harm (Dr. Katie LeClair #2)
  • Damaged (Maggie O'Dell, #8)
  • Nightlife
  • A Beautiful Corpse (Harper McClain, #2)
  • The Butcher's Boy (Butcher's Boy, #1)
  • Shallow End (Stonechild and Rouleau, #4)
  • Unnatural Causes (Dr. Katie LeClair, #1)
  • Four of a Kind (Audrey Harte, #4)
  • Skies of Ash (Detective Elouise Norton, #2)
  • All the Best Lies (Ellery Hathaway, #3)
  • Outsider (Kate Burkholder #12)
  • The Blue Girl (Scotland Yard's Murder Squad, #2.5)
  • Thunder Bay (Rebecca Connolly, #1)
  • Eddie's Boy
  • A Secret in the Keys
  • Every Waking Hour (Ellery Hathaway, #4)
  • Fractured Truth (Bone Gap Travellers #2)
  • Kissing Arizona (Sarah Burke, #3)
See similar books…
402 followers
Julia was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia. She graduated from Marshall University, then later earned a doctoral degree in English Literature at Ohio State University.

She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and has taught at Princeton and Ohio State Universities, and the University of Notre Dame. She is a guest essayist on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS and has been a contri
...more

Other books in the series

Bell Elkins (8 books)
  • A Killing in the Hills  (Bell Elkins, #1)
  • Bitter River  (Bell Elkins #2)
  • Last Ragged Breath (Bell Elkins, #4)
  • Sorrow Road (Bell Elkins, #5)
  • Fast Falls the Night (Bell Elkins, #6)
  • Bone on Bone (Bell Elkins #7)
  • The Cold Way Home (Bell Elkins, #8)

News & Interviews

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
180 likes · 21 comments