Shady Hollow

The first in a cosy murder series of 'rare and sinister charm'

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Pub Date 3 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 3 Feb 2022
Hodder & Stoughton, Hodder Paperbacks

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'Billed as Agatha Christie meets Beatrix Potter . . . Sometimes you just need an entertaining, escapist read to while away the hours, and Juneau Black (the pen name of authors Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel) certainly delivers all the small-town cosy crime vibes, with the animal quirkiness of Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr Fox . . . a perfect long weekend binge-read' Culture Fly



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.

'It sounds daft - it is daft - but it's also lots of fun' The People's Friend Magazine

'Billed as Agatha Christie meets Beatrix Potter . . . Sometimes you just need an entertaining, escapist read to while away the hours, and Juneau Black (the pen name of authors Jocelyn Cole and Sharon...

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ISBN 9781529399547
PRICE £8.99 (GBP)

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Featured Reviews

A cosy murder mystery with a cast of animals?? I’m sold!
I thoroughly enjoyed this story set in the small town of Shady Hollow. It had a historical vibe to it and reminded me of Farthing wood and Watership Down! I love an animal story and this one with anthropomorphic creatures really ticked all the boxes for me!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me read an advance copy of this book in exchange for my feedback.

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I requested this ARC because I found the blurb intriguing and then I fell in love with the story.
It's an excellent cozy mystery but the characters are bears, ravens, foxes.
I fell in love with the story since the first pages and couldn't put it down.
It's a solid mystery, full of twists and turn. I couldn't guess the culprit and liked the solution.
The world building is excellent, the characters are fleshed out and some are quite funny (Heidegger the Owl).
I cant' wait to read the next installment as I loved this one.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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Firstly, thank you so much NetGalley and Hodder & Stoughton for the E-Arc of Shady Hollow by Juneau Black in exchange for my honest and unbiased review.
I’ll be honest, this book is acres away from my usual reads, but for me 2022 is the year to expand my reading and to try something different and there is no question, Shady Hollow is definitely different.
Shady Hollow is a picturesque little town populated by woodland animals, it has a high street, book shop, and even a coffee shop…think small village/town feeling, just populated with animal rather than human characters. It all sounds rather lovely and probably pretty middle grade so far, but then add a murder mystery with a definite hint of Agatha Christie and you’ve got something that is so much more.
Told primarily from the perspective of Vera Vixen, investigative reporter extraordinaire, who definitely sees this as an opportunity to set herself as the town’s star reporter, you are pulled into a hunt for clues amidst multiple suspects for the murder of Otto. Otto was definitely not the most popular toad in town, infamous for his ability to argue or disagree with pretty much anyone, has been found dead and there’s a murderer on the loose!
Helping Vera in her hunt for the murder is her best friend Lenore, the raven who own’s the town bookshop, whom I absolutely adored – who couldn’t love a knowledgeable book owner who could swoop around the shop to find your perfect read, plus their relationship is so lovely and mutually supportive – it was fabulous.
At lot of the time I completely forgot that the characters were animals, until certain traits or aspects of their personalities came to light, which only brought a greater depth to the character, which was fabulous. The mystery itself is definitely not of Holmes’ standard, but the nods and easter eggs to other famous detectives did make me chuckle.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, it was a fabulous, easy, enjoyable and cosy read that delivered a great mystery and some wonderful characters set in the sort of small town or village that I’d absolutely love to live in and it was wonderful to step away from my usual reads to be thoroughly entertained.

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this is not something that i would usually read but i'm glad i did because it was so unique, i really enjoyed the mystery and the fact that the characters are animals! i totally recommend this.

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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

Review by Steph Warren of Bookshine and Readbows blog

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This book is so much fun. It’s bonkers, but in the best possible way. I’m not usually a big fan of stories for adults featuring animals, but I’m so glad that I gave Shady Hollow a shot, and now I can’t wait for book two in March. Imagine this as a classic murder mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie in terms of pacing, but with the most charmingly odd animal characters you can think of. Vera Vixen is the new reporter in town, so she ends up pulled into the investigation when the local toad is found dead – and the beaver mayor is poisoned.

It’s a short novel, around 200 pages, and thus makes for a very fast read. It is written in a light and humorous style, which is very hard to put down – my goal was to read 50 pages, do a chore, rinse and repeat… but I didn’t manage because I’m weak and the book is fun. It’s the kind of wholesome read that cheers you up and makes a gloomy day better. And it would make a wonderful animated feature *cough cough, Netflix, listen up*. While it is sold as an adult novel, I think it is ultimately a family-friendly book, and would be appropriate for readers around twelve and up – there is no graphic content or similar and it is relatively light and fluffy – so… FAMILY BOOK CLUB TIME!

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