Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery (A Shady Hollow Mystery #1) (Paperback)

Staff Pick Badge
Shady Hollow: A Murder Mystery (A Shady Hollow Mystery #1) By Juneau Black Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
1 on hand, as of Oct 3 12:43pm

Other Books in Series

This is book number 1 in the A Shady Hollow Mystery series.

Staff Reviews

Are you ever in the mood for a break? Break Books are the best! Often after I finish a book that was meaningful, or important, or a classic ( I call them Thinkers)  I like to be entertained with a Break Book. I don’t need to be challenged or instructed; I need some comfort and fun. After finishing my recent Thinker I found the perfect little Break Book. And to learn it’s the first of a series of three was a bonus.   Shady Hollow was published in January and  number 2 is called Cold Clay; it came out March 1. The third in the series is entitled Mirror Lake and it will be arriving  April 26. These three little cozy mysteries are great Break Books.

The author, Juneau Black, is a pseudonym for two friends, Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel. The two women work at a bookstore in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One day, their manager handed them a box of children’s finger puppets and asked them to price the woodland creatures for sale. As they went about the task, they found themselves naming the adorable puppets and creating a forest community complete with vivid backstories and adventures. It sounds like they know how to have fun at work!  And so Shady Hollow was born.

Shady Hollow is a peaceful village, inhabited by all types of woodland creatures. They live harmoniously as the predatory among them seem to have adopted the vegetarian lifestyle. The issue is never addressed, neither is the fact that a bear and toad can have an eye-to-eye conversation or that a moose can run a coffee shop. With a little suspension of disbelief, the reader is easily drawn into Shady Hollow life. Juneau Black has cleverly incorporated traditional animal traits into their characters: the VonPelt beaver family industriously runs the sawmill, Gladys the hummingbird flits as the town gossip, a raven owns a bookstore named Nevermore, brown bears are the local law enforcement, giant panda Sun-Li espouses Eastern medicine,  and the village curmudgeon is a toad named Otto Sumf.

Joe’s Mug is the local coffee shop and it’s abuzz with news about a first-ever event–a murder in Shady Hollow!  Our main character is an intrepid  local newspaper reporter,  a fox named Vera Vixen.  With help from the local constabulary and her raven bestfriend, Vera becomes a detective as she tries to solve the crime before another murder befalls our peaceful little Shady Hollow. 

As a child I was enamored with the Thornton Burgess chapter books. I loved the woodland society and the adventures of Reddy Fox, Chatterer the Red Squirrel, Jerry Muskrat, and all the others. Children of the 1960s (and before) may remember them. Reading Shady Hollow is like a grownup version of those childhood books. All the animals talk, wear clothes, drink coffee, have inter-species love affairs, and yes– even commit murder! Coming in at just 240 pages this humorous cozy mystery is just the ticket for a relaxing weekend. It’s a little Murder She Wrote, a little Wind in the Willows, and a lot of fun. Take a break!

— Luanne Clark

February 2022 Indie Next List

“In the industrious town of Shady Hollow, woodland creatures go about their lives until a brutal betrayal shatters the peace. Vera Vixen, a tenacious reporter and cunning fox, unravels a murder mystery in this smart series debut.”
— Margaret Walker, Union Avenue Books, Knoxville, TN


The first book in the Shady Hollow series, in which we are introduced to the village of Shady Hollow, a place where woodland creatures live together in harmony—until a curmudgeonly toad turns up dead and the local reporter has to solve the case.

Reporter Vera Vixen is a relative newcomer to Shady Hollow. The fox has a nose for news, so when she catches wind that the death might be a murder, she resolves to get to the bottom of the case, no matter where it leads. As she stirs up still waters, the fox exposes more than one mystery, and discovers that additional lives are in jeopardy.
Vera finds more to this town than she ever suspected. It seems someone in the Hollow will do anything to keep her from solving the murder, and soon it will take all of Vera’s cunning and quickness to crack the case.

About the Author

Juneau Black is the pen name of authors Jocelyn Cole and Sharon Nagel. They share a love of excellent bookshops, fine cheeses, and good murders (in fictional form only). Though they are two separate people, if you ask either of them a question about their childhood, you are likely to get the same answer. This is a little unnerving for any number of reasons.

Praise For…

“Black’s books — Shady Hollow, Cold Clay and Mirror Lake . . . have become my favorite new comfort reads. The plotting is sharp, the prose lean and the atmosphere pure joy. Vixen and the rest of the critters never feel like anthropomorphic Disney cartoon characters. I eagerly await a fresh infusion of Shady Hollow mayhem.”
The New York Times

“This captivating tale offers sunshine and murder in perfect proportion to keep readers entertained and engrossed in deceptively placid Shady Hollow.”
Shelf Awareness
“An absolutely delightful cozy read. . . . An remarkable empathy is also on display in these pages, putting this book firmly in the category of heartwarming reads despite the murders it chronicles.”
—Criminal Element

 “Watership Down meets Mickey Spillane. A mystery of rare and sinister charm.”
—Alan Bradley, New York Times bestselling author of the Flavia de Luce series

“A magical confection that will leave you nostalgic for the storybooks of your youth.  It’s quirky and clever, charming and smart.  I read Shady Hollow in one sitting and can’t wait for more!”
—Sarah Addison Allen, New York Times bestselling author of First Frost

“Get ready to fall in love with Shady Hollow and its quirky cast of animal characters. Charming and clever, Juneau Black will take readers on delightful ride as the mystery unfolds. I can’t wait to read more!”
—Amy E. Reichert, author of The Kindred Spirits Supper Club

“Need a book to curl up with by the fire? This is it! Shady Hollow must be the coziest of cozy crime stories. It’s a whimsical woodland murder mystery like no other! I not only enjoyed reading about it—I want to live there, surrounded by enigmatic pandas, diligent mice and well-read corvids. I have to try the food, listen to the gossip and visit the tiny café—and I don't even care that there is a murderer on the loose!”
—Leonie Swann, bestselling author of Three Bags Full

Product Details
ISBN: 9780593315712
ISBN-10: 0593315715
Publisher: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard
Publication Date: January 25th, 2022
Pages: 240
Language: English
Series: A Shady Hollow Mystery