Thursday, January 2, 2020

Book Review: The Hollows by Jess Montgomery

The second book in this mystery series, each reads like a stand-alone so don't be afraid to just jump in. Set in Appalachian Ohio in the 1920s, the books feel somewhat older, as the "Roaring Twenties" haven't really hit this neck of the woods yet (and I'm guessing never will.) Our main character is Lily Ross, who in the last book was made sheriff after her husband, who had been sheriff before her, died. But most people assume when the election comes around, she'll be replaced by a man, of course. Lily, however, likes her job and is good at it, and would like to stay sheriff.

Meanwhile, an elderly woman was hit by a train in a nearby rural area, so desolate one can't drive there in a car. Where did she come from? What was she doing wandering around in the middle of the night in a nightgown and no shoes? What is her connection to the town of Kinship?

While investigating, with the help of her best friend and jail matron, Lily is also dealing with the election, and with deciding how she wants her life to move forward. Working mothers weren't really a thing at this time and she's having to very much lean on her mother and friends for support. Feminists will note with much eye-rolling her mother's correct prediction that in the midst of a murder investigation, Lily must enter a pie in the local fair's contest like she always does (which the male candidate of course does not need to), to prove she's still feminine.

The setting is so vibrantly drawn in the hill country with mining and farming all around, with sketchy literacy rates and such a different way of life. I still find it so unique, with Model Ts and indoor plumbing still being new, and yet the hardscrabble, hardworking people actually mean that despite being rather backwoods, they're used to women working hard (just not often outside of the home but still working 16-hour days) and so this might not be as much of a stretch here, as in more urban areas with more "progress." The mystery kept me guessing, but I came for Lily and Marvena and Hildy, and look forward to spending much more time in their company.

This book is published by Minotaur, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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