Dayton Daily News

Jess Montgomery returns with her latest historical mystery novel


- Vick Mickunas

“The Hollows” by Jess Montgomery (Minotaur, 343 pages, $27.99)

Our Literary Life columnist Sharon Short is publishing her second book this week in her new series written under the pen name of Jess Montgomery. “The Hollows” picks up right where the first novel, “The Widows,” left off as her protagonis­t, Sheriff Lily Ross, is about to plunge into another murder investigat­ion.

Montgomery imagined a fictional world in that first story that was inspired by historical facts. Her character Lily Ross is based in some ways upon a woman who really was a sheriff in Ohio a century ago.

As that first book in the series began, the sheriff of a rural county in southeaste­rn Ohio is being murdered. He was found dead in his automobile, leaving behind a wife and two small children. His widow, Lily Ross, then assumes his role by becoming the acting sheriff and proceeds to investigat­e her husband’s killing.

This defiant act shocked some powerful men who assumed that Lily would merely serve as a figurehead, a place holder until another man would be designated for the position. She was determined to truly assume the duties that job entailed by finding the perpetrato­rs of the crime that left her a widow. It’s only one of the gnarly tasks she tries to tackle.

As the second book, “The Hollows,” opens, Lily remains acting sheriff and she’s campaignin­g to keep her job by winning the upcoming election on her own merits. This is the mid 1920s and she’s being opposed by a man who thinks Lily needs to go back to doing what he believes a woman should be doing: raising her children, cooking, cleaning, and keeping her mouth shut.

Lily should probably be thinking about the election — perhaps baking pies for appearance’s sake? She gets completely sidetracke­d by an investigat­ion when an elderly woman tumbles down to her death from the top of a railroad tunnel.

Sheriff Ross becomes completely wrapped up in solving this mystery. Who was this woman? Was it suicide? Or murder?

Lily’s friend Hildy offers readers a completely different point of view of the proceeding­s as the story unfolds. “The Hollows” is a mystery and a thriller and a romance. It is a story about friendship­s; the relationsh­ip

What: A book signing with Jess Montgomery for “The Hollows,” the second book in her Kinship historical mystery series.

Where: Books and Company at The Greene, 4453 Walnut St., Beavercree­k

When: Wednesday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m.

More info: 937 4292169 between Hildy and Lily as well as the connection between Lily and the earthy Marvena, the other widow of Montgomery’s series debut, “The Widows.”

The author’s title “The Hollows,” could be interprete­d on multiple levels. Her fictional insane asylum in Athens bears that name.

Montgomery got the idea from the former Athens Lunatic Asylum which was known as “The Ridges.” Then there are the ubiquitous mountain hollows of the Appalachia­n topography. Finally, there are the hollows within Lily’s heart, the grief she feels over losing her husband, as well as the question: Can those hollows ever be filled? You can sense it when a writer is really in the groove and has absolute confidence in her story. In “The Hollows” readers will find Jess Montgomery’s storytelli­ng prowess in full bloom. Enjoy.

Vick Mickunas of Yellow Springs interviews authors every Saturday at 7 a.m. and on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. on WYSO-FM (91.3). For more informatio­n, visit www. Contact him at vick@ vickmickun­

 ??  ?? “The Hollows” by Jess Montgomery (Minotaur, 343 pages, $27.99)
“The Hollows” by Jess Montgomery (Minotaur, 343 pages, $27.99)
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