“Fun, funny, tautly suspenseful, and very smart. Lilly Hawkins is irresistible. I couldn’t put it down.”
—Spencer Quinn, New York Times bestselling author of Dog on It
“Lilly Hawkins is a terrific protagonist—a straight shooter with her heart in the right place. You’ll root for her from the very beginning of the feisty new mystery.”
—April Smith, author of the FBI Special Agent Ana Grey novels
Publisher’s Weekly Review, 6/20/2011
Lilly Hawkins, a “shooter” (news photographer) for KJAY-TV in Bakersfield, Calif., shows her mettle in McFarland’s gritty, entertaining sequel to 2010’s A Bad Day’s Work. While responding to a forest fire at Lake Elizabeth that’s already killed two firefighters, Lilly hears of “an accidental drowning.” The drowning victim turns out to be environmental activist Jessica Egan, whom Lilly got to know one summer 13 years earlier. KJAY’s producer, Rod Strong, reminds Lilly she has “a front-row seat” for the area’s biggest natural disaster in 50 years, but Lilly is intent on investigating the drowning, which she believes is a homicide. Rumors that Jessica was wild and reckless don’t fit Lilly’s memory of her as “smart and strong.” Lilly demonstrates great professional poise while revealing much about her disreputable past and forcing a clever killer into the open. Readers will look forward to seeing a lot more of the gutsy, stubborn Lilly. (Aug.)
Booklist Review, 8/1/2011
TV camerawoman Lilly Hawkins (called a “shooter” in the trade) narrowly escapes death three times in less than 24 hours in this action-packed follow-up to A Bad Day’s Work (2010). Covering a raging wildfire near her home station in Bakersfield, she follows a coroner’s van to find divers pulling the body of environmental activist Jessica Egan from a lake. What seems an accidental drowning doesn’t ring true to Lilly, for whom Jessica had been an ally during Lilly’s misbegotten teen years. So, ignoring orders from her station, Lilly juggles covering the rapidly moving fire—along with her boyfriend, Rod Strong, who does the live reporting—with trying to find Jessica’s murderer. Along the way, she’s nearly drowned, shot at, and threatened by the fire’s blowup (reminscent of Nevada Barr’s Firestorm). Since Rod’s coverage of the fire is enhancing his career opportunities, Lilly also frets about losing him to a bigger TV market. Lilly, with her humanizing flaws, is both smart and strong-willed, and this adrenaline-fueled sequel ought to win her more fans. — Michele Leber
Suspense Magazine Review, 9/2011
“Hot, Shot and Bothered” is the second in the continuing adventures of Lilly Hawkins, a television news photographer with a small station in Bakersfield, California. The plot centers on Lilly’s assignment to cover a deadly forest fire racing through the California Mountains. After barely slipping in to the area before the mandatory road closures, Lilly is overwhelmed at the devastation she is witnessing firsthand. This is the story of a lifetime.
She has no time to also cover the accidental drowning of someone described by locals, including the police, as a reckless party girl . . . until she learns the victim’s name. When Lilly knew the drowning victim, Jessica Egan, thirteen years ago, she was a principled environmental activist and not a bit reckless or wild. Lilly is immediately suspicious, fearing that Jessica’s drowning was no accident. And could the raging fire be a desperate attempt to divert attention away from the drowning?
Even Jessica’s family doesn’t seem interested in finding out what really happened, but Lilly can’t let it go. For a brief moment, thirteen years ago, Lilly’s life intertwined with Jessica’s in a profound way and her sense of obligation to the dead girl makes Lilly risk her life to uncover the truth.
Nora McFarland tells a great story with an important moral lesson—rare in mysteries these days. The vivid descriptions of the rapidly approaching fire are so real they left me breathless. Literally.
Reviewed by Susan Santangelo, author of “Moving Can Be Murder” forSuspense Magazine