LIFE AND DEATH IN THE WOODS: A Virtual Bookshelf by Juneau Black

Our murder mysteries have a very distinct setting, which is in some northern forest far from big cities and towns. More significantly, it is a world without humans. The books we've selected here (some old, some new, some grounded, some fantastical) are an attempt to convey the mood of Shady Hollow. 

One of Juneau Black's picks is out of print! You can look for Tree and Leaf by J. R. R. Tolkien at your local library.

This collection of stories and essays has not one but two(!) especially relevant bits. First, his essay “On Fairy-stories” is a defense of the fantastic and argues that categorizing fantasy and fairy tales as “just for children” is a disservice to both children and adults. As people who created world where animals commit and solve murders, we have to agree. Second, the novella “Leaf by Niggle” is a special treat, a fable about creativity and fear that also happens to be utterly charming.

Shady Hollow (A Shady Hollow Mystery #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593315712
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - January 25th, 2022

Cold Clay (A Shady Hollow Mystery #2) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593466285
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - March 1st, 2022

Mirror Lake (A Shady Hollow Mystery #3) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593466308
Availability: Not in stock. Available To Order.
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - April 26th, 2022

Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525656098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 4th, 2021

Shady Hollow is a small town surrounded by forest, and all our creatures are intimately familiar with the woods. Getting the feel for how a forest might play into the plot is easier when you can understand how trees communicate and interact among themselves and with other organisms. This book offers exactly that insight.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324001935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 14th, 2021

Has Mary Roach ever written a dull book? (Answer: no.) With Fuzz, she takes on the issue of animal-based violence, which neatly dovetails with our own interests! Obviously, she’s talking about real-world stuff and especially the boundaries between nature and humanity. But it’s also just a riot to read.

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Fox and I: An Uncommon Friendship Cover Image
ISBN: 9781954118003
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - June 28th, 2022

What a sweet and touching story! Raven’s account of of meeting and getting to know a fox neighbor is a study in respect. I love that she first decided to interact via music, and didn’t worry too much about whether this was the “correct” way to make friends with a wild animal. 

I Am A Bunny (Little Golden Book) Cover Image
By Ole Risom, Richard Scarry (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780385384759
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Golden Books - January 6th, 2015

Yes, yes, yes…it’s a kids’ book. A baby book. Or is it an everyone book? The simple text, paired with deeply detailed scenes of the passing seasons, is actually contemplative and even a sort of meditation on the cycles of nature. Give yourself the gift of reading it with beginner’s mind.