I have to say, I'm fast becoming a fan of John Townsend. I recently read a couple of his short stories, which were beautifully presented as part of the Shades series, and this little offering, as part of the Sharp Shades series, was another enjoyable tale of his, full of intrigue and mystery, and even some unanswered questions.
It's the mystery side of things that gets me here. Hunter's Moon has a very simple introduction, as park keeper's assistant Neil discovers strange goings on in the woods leading up to the night of the Hunter's Moon (which is essentially just a full moon). From dead birds to destroyed animal habitats and a mysterious injury to Jeff, the gamekeeper, Townsend manages to maintain the notion that there is some 'beast' behind it all, that there is a big cat, like a panther, loose in the woods, that is causing all of these strange happenings.
It is left up to Neil to carry on regardless, his workload increased due to Jeff's injury. When he meets Tanya and her strange bully of a boyfriend Joe, events get even more confusing, and Townsend uses Joe as a clever suspect for all the events happening. Whether he has anything to do with events or not, I won't reveal, of course!
The characters seem quite well laid out, considering there are only 60 pages or so and that some of these pages are taken up by illustrations. The Sharp Shades books do take short stories and simplify them a bit to attract those less confident with reading, and you can tell that a more involved version of this would be even more appealing. As it is, the book is very enjoyable, and I got a real sense of mystery and intrigue throughout. I felt that perhaps the ending and any explanation that was offered felt very rushed, and it was almost like the final chapter of the book had been hugely condensed, or as if Townsend had run out of time to properly write the conclusion and we received it in note form. It certainly was explained very quickly, considering the excellent build up of intrigue that came before it.
Overall, however, it was a very good read. I find the Sharp Shades books in general are very well presented in terms of appealing to those who aren't so confident or keen on reading, and you can tell that the stories aren't quite as deep as they perhaps are in their original short story form. Townsend's writing here is very good, and I was riveted for the first 50 pages, just disappointed by the conclusion.
The Sharp Shades books are priced quite well, coming in at either £2.99 or £3.99, which is not bad for a properly presented and published book, however short it may be. I do recommend this if you're looking for a way to branch into reading stories, and the same goes for most of the series of these books that I have read. Townsend is a very good writer, and his words will drag you in. Enjoy.