BOOK REVIEW: Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery {A Shady Hollow Mystery} by Juneau Black

I'm not sure if it was the cozy cover, or the promise of an entire mystery starring only a cast of characters consisting of woodland creatures {frogs and foxes and bears, oh my!}; but the lure of Juneau Black's Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery was simply too strong for me to resist, so of course I downloaded a copy. If Agatha Christie rewrote The Wind in the Willows in her own words, the end result would be Shady Hollow. This is a tale that is sleepy in its pacing, and oftentimes a bit slow to keep one's interest entirely; however, certain characters {ahem, Vera} make up for those faults, weaving a story that is intriguing enough to contemplate reaching for the sequel.

Vera Vixen may be fairly new to quaint Shady Hollow, but she is determined to make a name for herself as an ace reporter for the Shady Hollow Herald. Unfortunately, her beat is mundane as nothing truly juicy really happens within the quiet community...until now. When the body of Otto Sumpf, a taciturn toad, is discovered by one Gladys Honeysuckle, Shady Hollow's resident busybody and gossip columnist, Vera knows that now is her moment - the time to sink her teeth into a mystery of big city proportion. While many believe Otto's death was the result of natural causes, Vera has a hunch that something more sinister is at play. Assigning herself to the case, Vera soon learns that her suspicions are correct: murder has arrived in Shady Hollow.

With the blessing of her editor, BW Stone, a cigar-chomping skunk always on the lookout for a huge headline, Vera begins using the common traits of her species {cunning and slyness} to dig deeper into Otto's mysterious demise, only to ruffle a few feathers of her neighbors, as she uncovers more than one mystery, and comes to the conclusion that Otto's murder was not, in fact, an anomaly - but the start of a possible killing spree wherein many of her neighbors may be marked for death next. Now she's up against time as she puts her head together with Deputy Orville Braun to unearth the killer before he, or she, puts a stop to Vera's investigating for good.

I'm not sure what I expected from this story, nor am I sure of what I left this story having gained; however, I am positive that, barring some slow moments, I truly enjoyed my time spent within the world of Shady Hollow. Though some of the characters lacked dimension, leaving me uninterested in their roles within the tale; others left a large mark on my heart that will not soon be forgotten.

Vera, for one, is lovable from the jump. Her caffeine addiction, and investigative desires are quite relatable for any mystery lover who considers themselves an amateur sleuth. I enjoyed her dialogue alongside Deputy Orville Braun, as I felt that their personalities played off one another quite well. Lefty was another one I loved - despite his penchant for small-time crime; and Sun-Li, the panda with the mysterious past, is someone I hope to learn more about in future installments. Ultimately, it was the presence of Joe's Mug, a nod to Luke's Diner for all you Gilmore Girls fans, that clinched my love for this story. Run by the genial moose, Joe, it became a gathering spot that I myself would love to pop into daily for my caffeine fix!

Though Shady Hollow had its faults; I can honestly say that I am already missing many of the characters, and cannot wait to return to the charming {if slightly murderous} locale of Shady Hollow in book two, Cold Clay {A Shady Hollow Mystery}.

Star Rating: ***1/2



ellie said...

Such a woodland's premise. I do like the coverπŸπŸ‚πŸ

The Book Group said...

Sounded so promising. Thanks for the review!

Hollyn'Stevie said...

Good to see your review. Thanks!πŸπŸ‚πŸπŸ‚πŸ« Happy November!

Cherry Blossoms said...

So intriguing. I might have to take a look, even so. Especially, if you miss the characters.

Better Left Unsaid said...

Thanks for the honest review. I do appreciate it 🫠

Caitlin'nMegan said...

So good to see your review. Thank you so much!

Ivy's Closet said...

Interesting premise. Unique bookcover too. Woodlands seems to be trending this past couple of years. Thanks πŸπŸ‚πŸ’—

R's Rue said...

Need to check it out. Happy Friday. Miss you friend. Hope you’re well.

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