Shady Hollow by Juneau Black

This whimsical cozy mystery set in a town of animal characters will tickle and amuse alongside its whodunit plot.

Previously published in 2015 by Hammer & Birch, Shady Hollow is the first in a series of cozy mysteries starring sweet, lovable animal characters. Juneau Black (pen name of a two-author team) will please lovers of both woodland creatures and whodunits with this gentle, plot-twisting exploration of small-town life.

The community of Shady Hollow is home to a typical cast of amiable eccentrics, including a gossip-hungry hummingbird; a good-natured, coffee-slinging moose; a timid mouse accountant; and a family of upper-crusty beavers. When a cantankerous toad turns up dead in the mill pond, however, the town’s policebears turn out to be underprepared to investigate, and it falls to local reporter Vera Vixen to uncover the murderer. Vera the fox is “an old-school journalist, despite her youth,” and though new to town, her friendship with Lenore Lee (a wise raven well-read in murder and, naturally, owner of Nevermore Books) provides a solid base for her inquiries. The more she learns about the inhabitants of Shady Hollow, however, the more complicated the case becomes, and Vera herself may be in danger.

With its charming and affable characters, Shady Hollow nonetheless serves up plenty of intrigue and danger, ending with teasing hints of what’s to come in the next installment (Cold Clay is slated for March 2022). The nonhuman cast offers an extra note of humor: accused of cynicism, Lenore responds, “I’m a raven…. If you want sunshine and melodies, go find a swallow.” This captivating tale offers sunshine and murder in perfect proportion to keep readers entertained and engrossed in deceptively placid Shady Hollow.


This review originally ran in the January 28, 2022 issue of Shelf Awareness for Readers. To subscribe, click here, and you’ll receive two issues per week of book reviews and other bookish news.


Rating: 7 cups of coffee.

Come back Friday for my interview with Juneau Black!

One Response

  1. […] my review of Shady Hollow, here’s Juneau Black: ‘It’ll Be […]

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