Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery, by Juneau Black – Book Review by Fred Patten.

by Patch O'Furr

Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.

titleShady Hollow: A Murder Mystery, by Juneau Black.
Philadelphia, PA, Hammer & Birch, October 2015, paperback $12.95 ([1] + 197 [+1] pages), Kindle $4.99.

This is a stereotypical murder mystery except for the funny animal cast. Shady Hollow is a small forest animal town where everybody knows everybody else. They’re all friendly, except maybe for grumpy toad Otto Stumpf.  But he’s considered cranky but lovable – until the morning that he’s found floating face down in the mill pond with a knife in his back.

Almost all the reviews call Shady Hollow “a Murder, She Wrote with animals”. The book begins with a Cast of Characters:

Otto Stumpf: The grouchy, taciturn toad of Shady Hollow. Not many folk admit to liking Otto. The better question is who hates him.

Vera Vixen: This cunning, foxy reporter has a nose for trouble and a desire to find out the truth. Can she trust anyone around her?

BW Stone: The cigar-chomping skunk of an editor of the Shady Hollow Herald. BW (“Everything in black and white!”) loves a good headline. Would he kill to create one?” (p. 1)

The Cast goes on to profile thirteen others such as the lazy bear police chief, his bear deputy who does all the work, the hummingbird town gossip, the moose coffee shop owner, the beaver industrialist, and the raccoon small-time thief. Each is described suspiciously. As the popular coffee-shop proprietor, “If gossip is spoken, Joe has heard it. Maybe he heard too much.” As Vera investigates, everyone turns out to have a secret that he or she would rather keep hidden. But are any of the secrets serious enough to lead to murder? And how would a recluse like Otto have learned them?

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