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Ohio, 1926: For many years, the railroad track in Moonvale Tunnel has been used as a shortcut through the Appalachian hills. When an elderly woman is killed walking along the tracks, the brakeman tells tales of seeing a ghostly female figure dressed all in white.

Newly elected Sheriff Lily Ross is called on to the case to dispel the myths, but Lily does not believe that an old woman would wander out of the hills onto the tracks.

With the help of her friend Marvena Whitcomb, Lily follows the woman’s trail to The Hollows—an asylum in northern Athens County—and they begin to expose secrets long-hidden by time and the mountains.

The Big Thrill got a sneak peek into the mind of author Jess Montgomery about the second book in her historical Kinship mystery series, THE HOLLOWS:

No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?

As Lily investigates, she uncovers shocking secrets about what is happening in her community–as well as a shocking secret about her community’s past. Both secrets ultimately help her solve the mystery of the woman found dead on the Moonvale Tunnel railroad.

Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?

For THE HOLLOWS, the main characters were in place as this novel is the second in the Kinship series. The setting of Moonvale Tunnel inspired the crime and the characters specific to this novel. From there, I pulled in an old asylum as a setting as well.

What attracts you to this book’s genre?

I love that historical fiction shows us both how much we’ve changed and progressed–and at the same time, in many ways, how much the issues, questions and fears of the past still haunt us today. Combining that with the central themes of mysteries and thrillers makes for a page-turning experience for readers and a satisfying challenge for me as a writer.


Jess Montgomery is the author of the historical Kinship mystery series, inspired by Ohio’s true first female sheriff. She also writes the “Literary Life” column in the Dayton Daily News (Ohio). Jess lives and writes in her native state of Ohio.

To learn more about the author and her work, please visit her website.


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