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The Cold Way Home

(Bell Elkins #8)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  689 ratings  ·  122 reviews
In the next powerful mystery from Julia Keller, former West Virginia prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins investigates the murder of a teenager while continuing to rebuild her life.

Bell Elkins and Jake Oakes make a good team, so good that they decide after years of working together to hang out their shingle: BJ Investigations, LLC. With his former-cop’s instinctive approach an
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published August 20th 2019 by Minotaur Books
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Diane S ☔
Nov 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is one of the rare series that I became attached after the first book. Now on number right, I am enjoying these more and more. These are not typical mysteries, but stories of a particular time and place. Yes, there is a murder, but it is a murder to hide secrets from over fifty years before.

Akers Gap, West Virginia has been hit hard by the opioid crisis, large number of unemployed and people with little about which to care. There are also good people, people who do care, sticking around to
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: crime-mystery
Bell Elkins, former prosecutor in Akins Gap, W. Virginia, along with former sheriff Nick Fogelsong and former detective Jake Oakes, have formed a private investigation team. They are given the task of investigating the murder of a woman when Bell discovers the body on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital which had burned to the ground many years ago.

I love Julia Keller's books and this was no exception - in fact in my opinion it was one of her best to date. The character of Bell is very likabl
Mary Jackson _TheMaryReader
Aug 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
My first book by Keller. It is part of a series I am told but it reads as a stand alone. Not for the fact that it takes place in West Virginia or that the author is from Ohio. This book took me on a ride and I loved every minute of it. I can't wait to get my hands on more of her books.
The Mary Reader received this book from the publisher for review. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are our own.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ever since her first book in the Bell Elkins series, Killing in the Hills, I’ve been a huge Julia Keller fan and even on her 8th book in the series, she does not disappoint. Keller vividly paints a picture of Ackers Gap, WV, with all its local color. Always when reading her books, I feel like am a part of the setting.

In the Cold Way Home, Bell’s story continues as she and her two friends and business partners try to solve a murder that takes them on a scavenger hunt into Ackers Gap’s sordid and
Chris Conley
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Keller managed to take another deeply depressing facet of life in Acker’s Gap, resolve a confusing mystery and still leave a sense of optimism for the reader and for Bell and her friends.
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Acker's Gap, West Virginia resides an investigative firm made up of "formers". Bell Elkins, 54, is a former prosecutor, Nick Fogelsong, 68, is the former sheriff, and Jake Oakes, 30, is a former deputy. They consult with the prosecutors office and take other cases on their own. Maggie Folsom needs them to find her runaway daughter Dixie Sue.

Bell finds a body at Wellstone, the old burned down mental hospital out in the woods. No, not Dixie Sue but definitely another case to solve.

If you don't
...more Mystery & Thriller
I have developed an affinity for Julia Keller’s Bell Elkins series. Acker’s Gap exists in that foggy neverland between fiction and reality, modeled after a real-world small town on the outskirts of Huntington, West Virginia, which has been assimilated into its big brother’s city limits but continues to function as a neighborhood. Bell Elkins, Keller’s complex heroine, has lived in the area all her life. Her circumstances have changed as the series has evolved, and the former town prosecutor is n ...more
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm a big fan of the Bell Elkins series. It features intriguing characters, a colorful setting, and compelling mysteries. This newest installment is no exception. It was fun to see Bell acting in her new capacity as a private investigator, along with Jake Oakes and Nick Fogelsong. We get a few glimpses into all of their personal lives, where they're each struggling with different conflicts, as well as their professional ones. I'm intrigued by the treatment of mental illness in the 1800s and earl ...more
Anne Marie
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received this book from St. Martins Press in return for my honest review:

I had no idea going into to this book that it was part of a series. With that being said it was great as a stand alone. I didn't feel as if I was missing information by not reading the first 7 books. I actually want to work backwards now and start at the beginning that is how much I enjoyed the book.

The Cold Way Home is set in a small town rich with problems! Ackers Gap WV. It follows Bell Elkins as she try's to uncover a
Nov 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Author Julia Keller captures so much of the Appalachian culture in her books. Set in West Virginia, she describes not just the geography but the people, the history, the devastation of the opioid crisis. And she does it through the wonderful characters she creates. Reading her Bell Elkins mysteries is like being transported to a different world.

This is the latest in the series, and I suggest that you begin with the first one: A Killing in the Hills. If you like mysteries, you won't be disappoint
Amy Warren
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Bitter River was my introduction to Acker's Gap, West Virginia and Bell Elkins. Acker's Gap, a small town in Appalachia must deal with the problems of poverty, unemployment, and drugs that have typified areas of Appalachia. The Cold Way Home is the 8th book in the series, and an awful lot has happened to the characters since Bitter River. (I intended to continue with the series, but somehow never did.)

Although I missed all the books in between, The Cold Way Home can be read as a stand-alone as t
Melody Morris
Aug 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Cold Way Home – Julia Keller

It’s another night in Ackers Gap, WV, and Deputy Brinksneader is ready to call his shift done, and head home to his wife’s cooking, when a call comes in to assist with an incident at the Burger Boss. Upon entering, it becomes apparent that paramedics are treating yet another drug overdose in the grimy bathroom stall. Until they find a just birthed infant in the toilet…

Meanwhile Bell, a former prosecutor, Nick, the former Sheriff & Jake, a deputy who is wheelchair
Minotaur Books and NetGalley provided me with an electronic copy of The Cold Way Home. I was under no obligation to review this book and my opinion is freely given.

Bell Elkins is no longer a prosecutor in the small West Virginia town of Acker's Gap, but is trying to help law enforcement fill in the cracks in the system by working as a private investigator. Joined in partnership with former sheriff Nick Fogelsong and former deputy Jake Oakes, the team is given the case of a missing teenager that
Laura Hoffman Brauman
3.5 stars. Two different storylines going on in this one -- both were good, but they were so distinctly different that they didn't seem to work with each other. A woman is killed in West Virginia, found dead in the woods in the ruins of an old asylum, near where her grandmother (who had worked at the asylum) had been killed years before. Keller digs into the history of asylums and the way women were sent away -- and in some cases lobotomized to make them "more compliant". Solid mystery with an e ...more
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it
Got this on reserve at the library, hooray! But sadly this is not the best of the series. The author has moved her character from prosecutor to PI (maybe she thought that would work better?) but the approach seems half-baked as is the plot of this book. A lot of plot lines are left hanging, probably for the next book? Hope Keller doesn't lose her way entirely, I really like the main character.
Ahuva Traube
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I always like her books. They're mysteries set in the real world, with characters facing real-world problems. Read the one that comes before this (I forget the name) if you want a tutorial on how the opiod epidemic has wreaked havoc on America.
Donna Hines
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A unique read that has a nice even pace with a well written story line that will have you pondering it long after it's finished.
It all begins with Bell and Jake who are investigating mysterious deaths in the area around West Virginia.
The teen murder at the psychic hospital that burned to the ground may have been just the beginning as we learn of another challenging case in the VA woods that leads this duo all the way to Ackers Gap High School.
However, the evidence isn't black and white and they
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I tend to be partial to books set in West Virginia, not because I'm prejudiced or anything, but it is my home state. This series by Ms. Keller, set in the fictional town of Acker's Gap, is one of the best. The latest entry in the series is exceptional.

Bell Elkins finds herself immersed in a baffling murder mystery with ties to a dark part of the area's history. With the help pf her two partners she will unravel horrid truths and deep secrets to discover the killer.

Ms. Keller has a realistic gras
joyce w. laudon
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The novels that Julia Keller, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, writes are never easy reads...but, boy, are they good! Each book is set in Ackers Gap, West Virginia, a place that faces far too many harsh realities. There are many drug problems, crushing poverty, a lack of resources and yet...people persevere.

This title is the eighth in the series which began with A Killing in the Hills. Long time readers will want to catch up with Bell Elkins, a former attorney (to know why "former" you need to r
Kathleen Gray
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
There are so many secrets in the small town of Ackers Gap, West Virginia and so many shadows. Bell, Nick, and Jake, all retired or removed from their previous lives in law enforcement, now function as a small detective agency in town, often doing the things the sheriff's office doesn't have time to- like finding a wayward young woman. I'm not sure why the blurb above indicates that a woman named Amber was found dead in the woods near the remains of Wellwood, a "Home for incurables," it was Darla ...more
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
In the review in Booklist, there is one statement that I cannot say any better, i.e., "Keller's Bell Elkins series sets a standard for its evocation of place and for the sensitive portrayals of its characters, ... This is introspective, literary crime fiction at its best."

The entire series does the finest job of setting the stage of any series I've ever read. Keller helps readers really see the town, the dying businesses, the poverty, tired faces of low-wage workers, and the very reasons there a
Sharon C
Aug 31, 2019 rated it liked it
This is the third Belfa Elkins book of Keller's that I have read, and they are all excellent. Belfa (Bell) is a strong female character. Formerly a prosecutor, Bell is now working with two friends (Jake and Nick) as private investigators in Ackers Gap, West Virginia. In Keller's talented hands, Ackers Gap is as much a character as Bell and the others. In fact, as a reader, I felt overwhelmed by the grayness and coldness that is WV winter. I also felt overwhelmed by the hard times that places lik ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Cold Way Home, by Julia Keller, Minotaur Books, 320 pages, Aug. 20, 2019.

This is the eighth book in the Belfa Elkins series. In earlier novels, Belfa, who goes by Bell, was the county prosecutor in Acker’s Gap, W.Va. The reason why she isn’t any longer is in the earlier books. I don’t want to give away that story line, but it is a good plot.

She is now a private investigator. Her partners are the former sheriff, Nick Fogelsong, and a former deputy, Jake Oakes. They take cases the sheriff’s de
Debbie Wainey
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Family can be the death of you if you let it

Julia Keller is such a gifted writer. One cannot help but feel what Acker's Gap and its residents are going through in this relentless thing called life, striving to do more than cope and trying not to hope yet grinding forward because doing so does matter. The opioid crisis, the despair of a small town in West Virginia, the manner in which the residents make themselves get through each day, and the small triumphs and bitter realities of their lives se
Barry Martin Vass
Dec 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a brooding mystery that greatly benefits from a sense of place. Located high in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, the small town of Acker's Gap is slowly sliding into oblivion. All local factories have closed, throwing nearly everyone out of work, and the drug epidemic has been raging for years. The town is so broke that when the city worker who replaced the light bulbs in the streetlights retired some months ago, he was not replaced. As a result, the burned-out streetlights ar ...more
Oct 29, 2019 rated it did not like it
I was halfway through it, then, just skimmed to the end. I was bored by the commentary into the character's lives. It detracted from the mystery, which really wasn't by the time I got to the end. I was surprised at the murderer though. Bell and Jake's chapters were confusingly written. I constantly had to go back and reread paragraphs in 'what was the point,' and then, just didn't care. The book was less about the mystery and much more about what life was the like in this town for everyone and t ...more
Barbie Adamson
Read the first book first. I didn't realize it was a second book in a series. I have not read the first one.
You can imagine how the two sentence back stories didn't mean anything to me about a new character. If there was a main character certainly wasn't developed in this book. Hopefully that's in the first.
None of the characters grabbed my attention. Let's label this book with a large "#2 in a series" note and a "read in chronological order" if you want to enjoy it.
Even knowing more about t
Oct 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stellar series

The Cold Way Home is probably the best book I have read all year! The story of Wellwood is one that I wasn't expecting but one that causes empathy and outrage! Empathy for those people who suffered and outrage that these things happened. While the hospital in this story is a fictional place there were plenty of state hospitals that did this very thing. Ms. Keller provides characters that feel very realistic and storylines that deal with the tough aftereffects of choices that people
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounded up.
This is the 8th in the series and I had read them all but this one could be read as a stand alone. Keller really brings you into the bleakness of WVA and slams home the effects of the opioid epidemic on the area. These characters live tough lives and you feel that without becoming despondent over it. The story also brought in the story of what was done to spirited women in the past. While this is a fictional book these are events that did happen. The mystery was solid. I did not s
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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

Other books in the series

Bell Elkins (8 books)
  • A Killing in the Hills  (Bell Elkins, #1)
  • Bitter River  (Bell Elkins #2)
  • Summer of the Dead (Bell Elkins, #3)
  • Last Ragged Breath (Bell Elkins, #4)
  • Sorrow Road (Bell Elkins, #5)
  • Fast Falls the Night (Bell Elkins, #6)
  • Bone on Bone (Bell Elkins #7)

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