Julia Keller’s novel, Sorrow Road entwines secrets from 1938 with a present day death in an Alzheimer’s care facility.  Bell Elkins and Darlene Strayer both grew up in Appalachia and both went to Georgetown Law School.  Bell is a county prosecutor in Aker’s Gap, West Virginia while Darlene is a federal prosecutor based in northern Virginia.  Although Darlene rarely comes home, she has met with Bell to ask her to investigate her father’s death at the Thornapple Terrace, an Alzheimer’s facility.  When Darlene has a fatal car accident going down the mountain after their meeting, Bell is left trying to understand what she needs to investigate.  What could possible motivate anyone to murder an Alzheimer’s patient, other than a mercy killing?  Bell’s life is further complicated when her adult daughter, Carla returns home.  Murder almost always has roots in the past, but this story lets the past motivate the present in several ways.  Practically every character is strongly influenced by past choices and actions.  The brutal winter weather is so well portrayed that it can be felt as strongly as the actions of the characters.  Winter puts particular pressures on small rural towns with dangerous roads that impact the story.  The poverty of rural West Virginia is a motivator for several acts of violence.  The connections will elude the reader until the end of the novel.

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