Retro Review: Crazy, VA by Shannon Hill

The cat was adorable but there were too many people in this little story.

Crazy, VA by Shannon Hill
Cozy Mystery
Sheriff Littlepage Eller of Crazy, Virginia, has her work cut out for her. She started life as the unwanted daughter of both of Crazy's feuding founding families. She's enforcing the law in a quirky town more used to paying bribes than fines. And her love life is in hiding. But Lil's luck changes when she adopts Boris, a foul-tempered tomcat who quickly becomes her feline deputy.

Then Crazy gets its first murder in decades: Lisa Littlepage Hunter, heir to the powerful Littlepage business empire and the cousin Lil never knew. Lil's investigation will lead her and Boris through a twisted web of forbidden love and family secrets, and before it's over she'll need all the help her furry deputy can give her - and then some. 

My Thoughts

This is a cute little story that clocks in at only 168 pages but for some reason it seemed much longer. It’s probably my fault. I kept picking it up, getting distracted and putting it back down. It took me well over ten days to finish it up. That’s not even 17 pages a day and that’s shameful.

“Crazy, VA” is Book #1 and sets up the Boris & Lil series which is about a town that lives up to its name. Crazy has only 300 residents but many of them are involved in a long-running feud between the two founding families. Lil, the only police officer, is the offspring of a love match between the two families. She’s an outsider because of it, basically disowned by both sides and has to fend for herself. Lil has become a strong, self-sufficient sort despite or because of this. I liked Lil a lot. She’s smart and tenacious and I refuse to write a bad word about her because early on she takes in a feral cat, names him Boris and deputizes him.

What’s not to love about that?

Honestly, the parts with Boris were the best bits of the book for me. This woman knows her way around a cocky cat and their relationship was charming.
“I lay on the floor. Boris trod on my bladder a few times for fun, and settled in for a long session of sucking his toes clean. I envied him. It would be a great life if my biggest worry was slurping the dirt out from between my toes.”
The rest of the book, though? Meh, I could take it or leave it. One of Lil’s many cousins (whom she doesn’t know) dies in a murderous way and a mystery ensues. Many characters are introduced, many of them snotty, have their say, and are never heard from again. They may pop up again in the sequels but here many of them seemed, I don’t know, unnecessary? Yeah, that fits. So Lil is the only one really digging into the case and the book follows her attempts to discover who killed her cousin and a little later why they did it (more on that in a sec). We get to know Lil, Boris and Lil’s aunt well enough but the rest of the characters weren’t fleshed out too much and there’s too many of them for my liking.

Most of the book is amusing but there were a few things that bugged me. There’s a really strange scene featuring Boris’s previous owner that I think should’ve been snipped. It made no sense to me other than to point out how awful people can be to pets. I already know all this, as does anyone who is familiar with rescues or those tear-jerking Sarah Mclachlan commercials, and I didn’t appreciate the nonsensical scene pounding me over the head with its message. Even though I completely agree with it, it aggravated me more than anything. The other BIG thing that bugged me was the ending. The entire book appeared to be leading up to a big reveal regarding the true motive of the killer but then it just ends. IT JUST ENDS. What?! I know it’s realistic but damn it I need some closure after all of that buildup and sleuthing! I even read the last few chapters twice because I thought I missed something.

So I’m giving this one a 3. It’s worth reading if you love feisty cats and light-hearted reads without a lot of sex and gore. I loved some of it, felt “meh” about some of it and disliked a bit of it. I loved Boris and may even pick up book #2 to see what he’s up to but I’ll probably forget the rest of this story as soon as I post this.

Other Books In This Series:

A Bit About the Author

Shannon Hill lives in the commonwealth of Virginia and treasures her privacy.  ​She loves cats, chocolate, and the Blue Ridge Mountains.  Although she is not nearly as awesome as Sheriff Lil Eller, her cats are as awesome as Boris.  One of them even enjoys riding in the car.  (Seriously.  Who could make that up?)

Ms. Hill donates 25% of all royalties from the sale of the "Crazy, VA" books to several no-kill animal shelters in Virginia.

Read April 2014


  1. I like the idea of Lil as pretty much in the middle of two feuding families -- and the excerpt you posted cracked me up soo much! I'd give this a go, I think.

    1. I hope you enjoy it if you get a chance to read it.

  2. It sounds like it has potential and even though I am a dog person, Boris intrigues me. And yes, those commercials! I have to turn them every time they come on. It's like a large rush to the remote for me and my husband! At least this one made for a VERY entertaining review!

  3. I like the covers even though I'm not a cat person, and the author's devotion to animal welfare.

  4. Days to finish 160-ish pages? Eek.

    The cat sounds fun though.

    For What It's Worth

    1. I must state that I am super slow reader in general but yeah, this one seemed to take ages even though it was fun.

  5. I am not sure about this one since it took you so long to finish it. I do sometimes wish that I could lead the life of a cat.

    1. Yep, I most definitely want to come back as a housecat!


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