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Ghosts in the Hedgerow, by Tom Moorhouse

9th March 2023

By Grace Johnson

Author and researcher Dr Tom Moorhouse’s new literary offering takes the unexpected shape of a ‘hedgehog whodunnit’. Ghosts in the Hedgerow offers an in-depth, insightful and impossibly funny look at the plight of the hedgehog.

The book depicts the decline of this popular species as a grisly murder at Hotel Furzehodge. But who could possibly have it in for the beloved hedgehog? British hedgehogs sadly face a myriad of threats, with the format of a whodunnit allowing Moorhouse to investigate each ‘suspect’ in turn; the badger, the farmer, the driver… The list goes on. Years of hedgehog research provides the ‘evidence’ for the case, as Moorhouse scrutinises the knowns and unknowns of the hedgehog decline, weaving together the empirical and the anecdotal.

“A body lies motionless on the ground. Small, with a snouty head and covered with spines, it is unquestionably dead before its time. And all of those gathered around the corpse are suspect. So which one of them is responsible for this crime – and for the disappearance of many many thousands of hedgehogs in recent decades?”

Ghosts in the Hedgerow expertly conveys the complexities of a decline reminiscent of ‘death by a thousand cuts’, with the conclusion of (spoiler!) all suspects contributing to the murder. In other words, hedgehogs may have overcome each threat individually, but together they have caused a once abundant species to dwindle over time.

Despite the damning testimonies of ‘suspects’ and researchers, Ghosts in the Hedgerow ends on a note of hope. In the book’s ‘final thoughts’ chapter, those working with hedgehogs offer insight and advice for turning the tables. While legislative and high-level changes are important, the actions of the individual are powerful too.

Overall, Ghosts in the Hedgerow is a thoroughly entertaining, honest and sometimes surprising read, and one that will satisfy nature enthusiasts and newbies alike. This astute book overthrows the trope of the cutesy hedgehog featured on mugs and cushions, purveying this resilient creature as a fighter, with far more to their story than first meets the eye.

Ghosts in the Hedgerow is out now and available to purchase on the PTES shop.

Catch up on our Evening with Hedgehog Street, where we chatted to Tom about his book, research and all things hedgehog.