Thursday, May 26, 2022

Fiction Review: The Hollows

Back in 2019, I listened to a wonderful new historical fiction book, The Widows by Jess Montgomery, and really enjoyed it. That was book one of a new series, The Kinship series, of historical mysteries, but I kind of lost track of the series (as I tend to do!). Earlier this month, I was looking for an audio book to take on my long car trip to Vermont, something that would hold my interest. I heard an interview with Jess Montgomery on the Book Cougars podcast and realized her fourth book, The Echoes, had just been released. Looking through my never-ending audio backlog, I found that I had book two, The Hollows, so I downloaded that to my iPod. This gripping historical mystery with fascinating characters helped those long miles melt away!

In book one, we are introduced to Lily Ross in 1920's rural Ohio, in the Appalachians. In that first novel, Lily's husband, the sheriff, is killed (not a spoiler; that's how the book begins), and Lily is asked to take over for him. Her first job is to solve her own husband's murder. In this second book, it's 1926, and Lily is now running for re-election in her own right when another deadly case comes her way. An elderly woman is found dead in a tiny neighboring town within Lily's jurisdiction. She is dressed only in a flimsy nightgown and has clearly fallen from the top of a train tunnel onto a moving freight train. The location is in the middle of a forest, so many questions immediately come to mind. How did this frail old woman get to this isolated spot ... in bare feet? And some initial clues make Lily wonder whether this was an accident or not. Lily begins to investigate the case, amid pre-election upheaval, as her male rival seeks to discredit her. Narration switches back and forth between Lily and her childhood best friend, Hildy, who is helping Lily out while hiding a huge secret of her own.

This second book really cemented my love of the series. It combines a suspenseful mystery with fascinating historical details, and plenty of drama between friends and family. Lily faces an uphill battle as sheriff, to be taken seriously as a woman, in addition to the intricacies of this case. At the same time, Hildy is tortured by her own secrets and agonized over what to do. All of this is set against the backdrop of 1926 southeastern Ohio, complete with some local miners wanting to unionize and integrate, the KKK beginning to infiltrate the area, and bootleggers (not so) secretly making moonshine. The author tells this story beautifully, and I was completely engrossed in the unexpected twists and turns of the personal stories, the history, and the mystery. In fact, it was the perfect accompaniment for my trip, especially those last miles on Sunday, as exhaustion set in! I can't wait to read books two and three.

368 pages, Minotaur

Macmillan Audio

This book fits in the following 2022 Reading Challenges:

Diversity Challenge

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.


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Listen to a sample of the audiobook here and/or download it from Audible.


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  1. Hmmm. I've read the Widow and The Stills. Maybe I skipped book 2 in the series. I'll have to read this one as I liked the two I've read so far.

    1. Oh, interesting! I definitely want to read books 3 & 4. Great series!