Imagine Beatrix Potter meets Agatha Christie and you have Shady Hollow. A bunch of animals live together in a small town where differences in size and diet don’t seem to be a problem as they mix together in coffee bars and restaurants. Fortunately, they all seem to have taken up vegetarianism so they don’t eat each other, but when a toad is found stabbed in the lake near his house it’s obvious that someone in Shady Hollow is prepared to kill for reasons other than getting their next meal. And when the beaver who owns the local sawmill is also murdered, it seems there may be a serial killer on the loose. 

Will ace reporter Vera Vixen be able to track down the murderer? Or will she be the next victim? 

I got a copy of this book through NetGalley and I did enjoy it. It’s the lightest of light reads and maybe what we all need nowadays, but it’s difficult to review. I’ve really said all there is to say about it. It’s nicely written in plain prose, but it’s hardly going to offer a wealth of characterisation: everyone is defined by their species characteristics (real or imagined). So the racoon is a bandit, the fox is cunning and the local police force are bears: strong and patient if sometimes a little plodding. 

If you like this sort of thing, you’ll like it and if you don’t, you won’t. Shady Hollow is the first in a series. It worked well for me but three (so far) might be a bit much: one dip into a childhood world of talking animals is fun, but three suggests problems adapting to adult life.  It’s nice to see odd books like this get support from their publishers but there are definitely worthier tomes out there being ignored. 

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