Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Cold Hollow: Cold Hollow Mysteries, Book One is a thriller novel written by Emilie J. Howard. The Barner family was moving, bag and baggage, up to the Green Mountains of Vermont. Angus had been offered a promotion that was just too good an opportunity to pass up, but it did require that they leave their home in Connecticut and move up to Cold Hollow, a small town in the Cold Hollow Range of the Appalachian Mountains. Their house there was an impressive log cabin perched on four acres of land, with parkland and trails surrounding it. Sophia had had second thoughts about having to sell her bakery business and start up again, but she was pleasantly surprised when she saw the commercial premises her husband had leased for her. Everything was sparkling new and clean, and she was instantly mentally setting up and decorating her new bakery. Their children, Liam and Layla, were intrigued by the promise of hiking trails, and Liam was thrilled when his father first took him out hiking and showed him the nearly tame deer that abounded in the woods. Angus would eventually need to spend some time away from home as the marketing agency he worked for wanted his hand-on interaction with the ski resorts they represented, but the friendliness of the people in town seemed to reassure him and his wife. There were, however, a few odd things about the town that did trouble Angus and Sophia. For one thing, there was some angry talk of the till, a monthly adjustable fee levied on all the inhabitants, that was assessed and collected by a dark and sinister man who went by the name of Nazar. Sophia was not at all impressed by Nazar, and she made a point of letting him know she would not stand for his bullying treatment of her and her family, but Sophia had no idea about the secrets surrounding Cold Hollow, nor did she realize how dark and remorseless the keepers of those secrets could be.
Emilie J. Howard's darkly suspenseful thriller, Cold Hollow, is set in what I instantly thought of as sheer paradise. Cold Hollow is situated in a woodsy wonderland, and that four-bedroom log cabin on four acres of land sounded very appealing indeed. As Sophie stood her ground against the sinister Nazar, I began to realize that the hints and subtle tones of darkness Howard paints her story with were merely the beginning of this deliciously chilling noir mystery. Howard deftly creates a town filled with people I wanted to get to know, flawed but so down-to-earth and utterly humane. Her plot is ingenious, and her story moves beautifully. I was thrilled to discover that this is just the first book in the Cold Hollow Mystery Series, as I wanted to get to know Myra, Tom and the other Cold Hollow inhabitants even better than I do now. Howard's writing is smooth and fluid, and Cold Hollow is a book that you just won’t want to put down until the last page is finished. Cold Hollow: Cold Hollow Mysteries, Book One is most highly recommended.