Mystery lurks in Creepy Hollow

By: 
Jan Jones
Columnist

I don’t know what I was expecting when I selected “Hollow Girl” by Alan Lee, but I got a hard-to-put-down tale about the potential repercussions of child abuse.

It takes many chapters to reveal the demons that haunt Roanoke, Virginia, rookie Andie Stackhouse, but I’ll tell you up front. Andie’s ex-military father had a breakdown, and her stunningly beautiful mother supported the family by modeling until she succumbed to cancer. Her father was unable to give her the comfort and support she needed, so she left home at 16.

She stayed with various friends, worked her way through college and landed a job as a D.C. lobbyist. Soon she was living the good life and seriously dating. Andie was expecting a marriage proposal when she caught the man with another woman. Ashamed and furious, Andie immediately quit her job and enrolled in the police academy.

Now, almost 30, she works her shifts and takes online courses in law with hopes of joining the FBI before the age deadline of 35. Andie shares an apartment with her good friend Katy, a therapist. They get along well, but Andie hates to be idle and accepts a call to check on a teenage girl in a secluded area known as “Creepy Hollow.”

Three houses sit on the remote chunk of land. The Roanoke River forms a border between the hollow and an apartment complex. Her destination is the large house at the end of the road.

She is greeted by several young girls before the owner, Jane Newton, appears. She is attractive, fit and surprised to see a female officer at her door. The girls are all foster children in Jane’s care. Jane seems eager to share her feelings about how to survive and thrive in an abusive world.

One of the girls, April Fuller, has been truant and Andie needs to speak with her, but April isn’t there. Andie assumes she has run away. The officer in charge of child welfare shows little interest, which infuriates Andie. As a former runaway she has a special affinity for the girl. It isn’t her job, but Andie is determined to find the girl and begins digging.

Before going to Creepy Hollow, Andie learns that 15 years ago a man’s beheaded body was set on fire. He was a resident of the Hollow and a police officer. The case was still unsolved.

Within days, Andie is summoned to Creepy Hollow again. Residents insist that they heard something by the river. When she checks it out, she accidentally steps on a decomposing body. Suddenly, Andie is in the spotlight.

The autopsy shows he was shot with the same gun as the beheaded officer. Since Andie is only a patrol officer, she is told to leave the case to the detectives, but events keep pulling her into both April’s case and the murders. When Andie’s rage boils over during an arrest, she beats a man until her hand breaks. She is put on paid leave but can’t resist the search for April.

This is the first in Lee’s “Stackhouse” series. I’m sure the next books will be just as compelling.

If you like riveting storylines, the shelves of your public library are filled with books you might like. Why not stop by soon so you can check it out?

AT A GLANCE

Book: “Hollow Girl” (Stackhouse Police Procedurals, Book 1)

Author: Alan Lee

Publisher: Alan Lee

Year published: 2023

Number of pages: 360