*I received a free ARC of this book with thanks to the author and Hodder & Stoughton. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: A MURDER TO SOLVE. A REPORTER ON THE CASE.
CAN YOU SPOT THE SECRETS IN SHADY HOLLOW?
In the woodland community of Shady Hollow, you’ll discover a secret. Moose and mice, owls and bears live side by side in civilized harmony. Shady Hollow has a coffee shop and a bookshop, a haberdasher and a bank. All is well . . . until the town’s querulous toad shows up dead. It’s something this village haven’t seen before: a murder.
Vera Vixen is new in town. She has a nose for news and catches the scent of a story, one that leads her to dark places. As she stirs up the still waters, the fox exposes more than one mystery, and the folks in Shady Hollow learn that some of their neighbours are lying, while others are downright dangerous. It will take all of Vera’s cunning and quickness to come out alive.
Entertaining and perceptive, Shady Hollow is fast-paced and witty, with characters that jump off the page and a hugely satisfying mystery to solve. Once you’ve met the residents of Shady Hollow, you won’t easily forget them.
Described as ‘Beatrix Potter crossed with Agatha Christie’, this first book in the Shady Hollow series seemed right up my street, and I was right! You could also throw in Zootopia, and Beverley Nichols’ Magic Woodland series, but aimed at an adult, mystery-reading audience.
Classic murder mystery tropes of dodgy business dealings, unhappy neighbours, suspicious incomers and secret liaisons are delightfully refreshed and invigorated by the clever hook of having all of the characters as anthropomorphic animals. So we follow journalist Vera Vixen as she investigates the murder of literal toad and all-round unpopular citizen, Otto Slumpf, helped or hindered by police bears, belligerent beavers and a clever, book-loving bird.
I was completely unable to guess at who the murderer might be, despite the relatively small community, as there is plenty going on in Shady Hollow – lots of secrets to uncover! – but I thoroughly enjoyed being along for the ride as this unique and well-written murder mystery played out.
I was thoroughly hooked in by the side characters we meet along the way, and desperate to know more about Sun Li, Lenore, Chitters, BW, Joe and Orville (and everyone else too!). Luckily, books two and three in the series are coming out in March and April, so I don’t have long to wait before I can follow the book covers from Joe’s Mug to the Herald Offices, then on to Nevermore Books, accompanying the quick, coffee-fuelled fox as she attempts to unveil more murderers hiding in their peaceful furred-and-feathered midst.
Great fun for cosy mystery fans who are dying for something a little different! 😉
Shady Hollow is a tale of woodland creatures, and from time to time the contemplative reader may pause to wonder precisely how a town functions with foxes and rabbits as tenants of the same building, or how a mouse and a moose can chat eye to eye. Keep in mind, gentle reader, that this is a work of fiction. The characters’ resemblances to real creatures, alive or cruelly murdered, is incidental indeed. For those who feel compelled to resolve this issue before continuing with the story, you may wish to think of the characters merely as humans with particularly animalistic traits… in other words, just like you and me.
With that guidance, welcome to Shady Hollow.– Juneau Black, Authors note from Shady Hollow
Juneau Black is the pen name of authors Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel.
They have worked as independent booksellers and librarians, which has led to a shared love of excellent bookshops and a good murder (in fictional form only).
Shady Hollow is available on Amazon right now!
Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour for more great reviews and content (see the poster below for details)!