REVIEW: Evergreen Chase by Juneau Black
A Shady Hollow Holiday Short Story
It’s the winter solstice in Shady Hollow, that magical time of year when creatures of all shapes and sizes come together to honor the season and eat as much pie as possible. Reporter Vera Vixen is eager to experience her first holiday in town and is especially looking forward to the unveiling of the solstice tree. But then disaster strikes. The year’s tree—the tallest in the forest—has disappeared without a trace. Can Vera, her best friend, Lenore, and Deputy Orville Braun find the tree and save the season? Or will this year’s solstice be especially dark?
Dear Juneau Black,
This cover certainly caught my eye. It looks a little bit like cut paper art but with … a fox! Vera Vixen is a newcomer to the town of Shady Hollow but she knows about the town’s beloved tradition of decorating a Solstice Tree for the holiday. The whole town gets involved from tending potential trees for years to donating decorations and yummy pies and treats for the big evening. Vera’s been assigned by her boss (who sort of reminded me of Lou Grant [he doesn’t like the mushy stuff] even though this boss is a skunk) to cover the story. But what she turns out to be writing about is how the town’s tree vanished overnight.
I’ll be honest and say that solving the cozy mystery is fairly straightforward. Vera’s a good reporter who not only follows up leads but hunts them down in the first place. What makes this novella special is the characters. From the gay chipmunk couple who own the local B&B to the immigrant panda who runs a tea shop near a bamboo stand to the mink who works at the town “watering hole” coffee shop owned by a moose, to a racoon who is always the primary suspect, and a raven who runs the bookstore and is Vera’s BFF, the town is full of interesting creatures going about their ordinary small town lives and all living in harmony. This aspect is charming. There are three (I think) novels scheduled to be released next year and I will be keeping my eye open for them. B