“The pacing is frenetic but focused, as Lilly runs up against the ailing Warner’s hired thugs. The adrenaline-fueled action occasionally tips the scales, but it makes the emotional punch of the book’s final revelations all the more wrenching.” — The Houston Chronicle
“Nora McFarland’s writing cuts to the quick, peeling layers of painful family truths. The story’s gritty, but shot through with humor.” — The Florida Times-Union
Booklist, July 16
TV camerawoman Lilly Hawkins has survived the replacement of her Bakersfield station’s other shooters by MMJs (multimedia journalists, reporters who shoot and edit their own video). So her main concern on the day before Christmas is what to do when her boyfriend, TV senior producer Rod Strong, proposes (as she knows he will, since she found a ring in his pocket). Then her disreputable but beloved Uncle Bud is seriously wounded, and Lilly—unable to keep a vigil in the hospital—takes off to find the person who shot him. In a short but intensive quest involving wealthy Leland Warner, Lilly finds not only the perpetrator but also some shocking truths about her family, as well as a well-intentioned conspiracy of silence that briefly damages her trust in Rod. The third entry in this series (after Hot, Shot, and Bothered, 2011) spans only a two-day period yet reveals more of Lilly’s complexity. She’s a strong-willed and dogged seeker of the truth whose loyalty and love are fiercely held, and it’s a pleasure to see her in this bittersweet outing.— Michele Leber
Publisher’s Weekly, Issue Date: June 25, 2012
Nora McFarland. S&S/Touchstone, $15 trade paper (304p) ISBN 978-1-4391-5557-8
McFarland’s twisty third Lilly Hawkins mystery (after 2011’s Hot, Shot, and Bothered) finds the Bakersfield, Calif., TV news photographer caught off guard by an attack on her beloved black sheep uncle, Allan “Bud” Hawkins. Lilly’s old adversary, ruthless billionaire Leland Warner; his embittered sister, Erabelle; and his even more treacherous son, Leland Jr., are determined to keep Lilly from the truth. But antique medals allegedly stolen from Erabelle years earlier might be the key to understanding why Bud was shot. As Lilly moves perilously close to the truth, she’s troubled to hear of her late father’s difficult childhood, and clues that Bud might have been more sinister than lovable scoundrel. Lilly recklessly barging into trailer parks and Leland Sr.’s luxurious estate alike provides some comic relief from the emotional weight of these revelations. Lilly’s instincts may occasionally lead her astray, but readers will enjoy stumbling alongside her. Agent: Molly Friedrich, the Friedrich Agency. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews, Issue Date: August 1, 2012
Determined to avenge an attack on her uncle, a photographer turns investigator in this character-rich whodunit and whydunit.
Lilly Hawkins’ job as chief photographer for the Bakersfield KJAY news team lets her listen in on the police frequency. She’s at work with her closest friend, 60-something Leanore Drucker, when she hears an alarming call for an ambulance to go to her boyfriend Rod’s place. When Lilly shows up at the house, she’s relieved to see that Rod is okay but is horrified by the news that her Uncle Bud has been shot. While she’s had her share of ups and downs, Uncle Bud’s been there through them all as Lilly’s reliable surrogate parent, and Lilly knows exactly what she has to do. Ignoring Rod’s insistence that she stay with Bud at the hospital to see what the rounds of emergency surgery bring, Lilly grabs her station news van to investigate. Her first stop is the home of Leland Warner, with whom she’s already had too many run-ins. There, Lilly finds that Leland is convalescing, supervised by his sister, Erabelle, and his son, Junior, a not-so-pleasant chip off the old block. Although the Warners do their best to stop her in her tracks, Lilly’s nose for news tells her there’s something more, and she won’t stop until she finds the truth.
Fans of McFarland’s series (A Bad Day’s Work, 2010, etc.) will be shocked at the involvement of Uncle Bud. It’s hard when a mystery hits so close to home.
Suspense Magazine, Issue Date: August 2012
Lilly Hawkins, every reader’s favorite determined and dedicated (not to mention, hysterical) news photographer, is back. And this time around, the mystery she has to uncover is extremely personal.
Working as a television news photographer in Bakersfield, California, Lilly is the best at what she does. She’s seen it all, photographed it all, and works her proverbial behind off to make sure she documents her hometown’s violent crimes for the world to see. Of course, it’s not just grisly pictures she offers; Lilly also has a tendency to get deeply involved in the crimes that occur.
In this newest mystery, it is Christmas Eve and Lilly is working the assignments desk, since most of the staff is off on their Holiday break. While listening to the police band radio, Lilly overhears a dispatcher announce that there were gunshots fired at ‘173 Jefferson Street’ and immediately goes into shock. This is Lilly’s home address where she and her boyfriend, Rod, reside.
Running to the crime scene, Lilly finds Rod healthy and well. Unfortunately, her Uncle Bud—the owner of her house—has been shot. Taken to the hospital, Lilly heads out on the ‘case’ with all of her familiar newspaper cohorts in tow, in order to find out who broke into her home and attempted to murder her uncle.
While investigating, Lilly soon uncovers facts regarding her uncle and his long ago friendship with millionaire, Leland Warner. Leland’s family soon ‘appears’ and wants nothing more than to keep the crime quiet, sending people to watch over Lilly in order to make sure she doesn’t ‘guess’ the real truth buried in her uncle’s past.
Taking place over a two-day period, Lilly’s new ‘case’ is as fast-paced and suspenseful as all the ones that have come before. But what really allows Lilly to stand out is her beloved sarcasm that draws the reader in and makes them follow the intrepid amateur sleuth wherever she goes.
Full of pure, unadulterated attitude, Lilly Hawkins is back with a vengeance!
Reviewed by Amy Lignor, author of “Tallent & Lowery – 13” for Suspense Magazine