Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Julia Keller  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction Non-Fiction

Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: in Huntington, West Virginia

-- Website --
-- Julia Keller on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Julia lived and worked in Chicago.

Biographical and Professional Information

Julia Keller has a doctoral degree in English literature at Ohio State University. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and she's taught at the University of Chicago, Notre Dame, and Princeton. During her journalism career, she worked at ''The Ashland Daily Independent'' in Ashland, Ky.; ''The Columbus Dispatch'' in Columbus, Ohio; and ''The Chicago Tribune''.Keller joined the Chicago Tribune in 1998 and is a longtime cultural critic there, a position that was created explicitly for her. In 2005, she won the Pulitzer Prize for a feature she wrote on the aftermath of a 2004 tornado that ravaged Utica, Illinois. Keller is also guest essayist on the PBS program ''The Newshour with Jim Lehrer.''She now lives in Ohio.

Published Works

    Stand Alone Titles:
  • Mr. Gatling's Terrible Marvel: The Gun That Changed Everything and the Misunderstood Genius Who Invented It , Viking, 2008
  • Back Home, EgmontUSA, 2009
  • The Dark Intercept, Tor Teen, 2017Bell Elkins Series:
  • A Killing in The Hills, Minotaur, 2012
  • Bitter River, Minotaur, 2013
  • Summer of the Dead, Minotaur, 2014
  • Last Ragged Breath, Minotaur, 2015
  • Sorrow Road, Minotaur, 2016
  • Fast Falls the Night, Minotaur, 2017

Selected Titles At Your Library

Back home /
ISBN: 1606840053. OCLC Number:

Egmont USA,. New York :. 2009.

Thirteen-year-old Rachel Browning understands that her father will be different after being injured in the Iraq War, but no one is prepared for the impact that his traumatic brain injury and other wounds have on the entire family.

The dark Intercept /
ISBN: 076538762X. OCLC Number:

. .

"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."--Jacket flap.

A killing in the hills /
ISBN: 1250003482. OCLC Number:

. .

Prosecuting attorney Bell Elkins and her estranged teenage daughter, Carla, try to protect their town and each other in the aftermath of a shocking triple murder committed by an unknown shooter whose identity is gradually realized by Carla.

Bitter River /
ISBN: 1250003490. OCLC Number:

. .

Phone calls before dawn from the sheriff are rarely good news. 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: Lucinda Trimble's body has been found at the bottom of Bitter River-- and she was dead before her body ever hit the water. 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.

Summer of the dead /
ISBN: 1250044731. OCLC Number:

. .

"High summer in Acker's Gap, West Virginia--but no one's enjoying the rugged natural landscape. Not while a killer stalks the small town and its hard-luck inhabitants. County prosecutor Bell Elkins and 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"--

Last ragged breath /
ISBN: 125004474X. OCLC Number:

. .

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. Prosecutor Bell Elkins faces her toughest challenge yet in this haunting story of vengeance, greed and the fierce struggle for social justice. Richly imagined, vividly written and deeply felt, Last Ragged Breath is set in West Virginia, but it really takes place in a land we all know: the country called home.

Sorrow road /
ISBN: 1250089581. OCLC Number:

. .

"From the small towns of Appalachia they came, the young men who joined the fight for liberty in World War II. Now they are elderly, and some of them--like Harmon Strayer, father of prosecutor Bell Elkins's former law school classmate--suffer from Alzheimer's. When Harmon dies in an Alzheimer's care facility from what appear to be natural causes, Bell confronts a mystery that brims with questions about memory, grief and the lethal cost of burying the past. During a winter of record snow and cold, Bell and the people of Acker's Gap, West Virginia, face isolation and hardship--and the threat from a killer who preys upon the old and the sick and the helpless"--

Fast falls the night /
ISBN: 1250089611. OCLC Number:

. .

"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. Based on a real-life event, Pulitzer Prize-winner Julia Keller's latest Bell Elkins novel "Fast 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"--


A Killing in the Hills

  • ILLINOIS READS Book List, Illinois Reading Council, 2014
  • Bitter River

  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Summer of the Dead

  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Last Ragged Breath

  • Starred Review, Kirkus
  • Sorrow Road

  • Starred Review, Booklist
  • Fast Falls the Night

  • Starred Review, Booklist, 2017
  • Starred Review, Kirkus, 2017

    Other Awards

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)