The Hollows: A Novel (The Kinship Series)

Written by Jess Montgomery
Review by John Kachuba

Following up on her successful 2019 mystery, The Widows, Montgomery revisits 1920s Appalachian Ohio in The Hollows. Feisty Sheriff Lily Ross, a character based on the real-life Maude Collins, in 1925 the first female sheriff elected in Ohio, is confounded by the death of an elderly woman, wearing only a nightgown, whose body is discovered near an allegedly haunted railroad tunnel in Moonvale Hollow.

How is it that in Lily’s small and close-knit Appalachian county no one can identify the woman? Where did she come from? Was her death an accident? A suicide, or murder? As Lily works to discover the answer to this mystery with the help of her friends, Marvena Whitcomb and Hildy Cooper, long-buried secrets of some of the most influential people in the community begin to emerge, and they aren’t pretty. She finds that bigotry and racism have been a part of the region’s history, and now it seems history is repeating itself in horrible and violent ways.

As if that wasn’t enough, Lily is also a widow and the mother of three children. She struggles to be mother and sheriff in a time when women were not considered equal to men in any way and were supposed to know their “place.”

Montgomery, an Ohioan, renders a colorful and authentic image of Appalachian Ohio, its people and culture. She has a keen ear for the voices of the people, so the dialogue rings true. The Hollows is a finely crafted, exciting page-turner and is highly recommended for readers of historical mysteries and anyone interested in novels of strong and empowered women.