HOT, SHOT, AND BOTHERED - Nora McFarland
A Lilly Hawkins Mystery
Elizabeth Lake, California - Present Day
Just as Lilly Hawkins, a shooter for KJAY news in Bakersfield, is finishing what’s supposed to be her last segment about the wildfire ravaging the small town of Elizabeth Lake, she sees a coroner’s van heading up to the lake. A death during the fire could mean big ratings, so she chases the van, only to find out that the victim drowned. She soon learns that the victim, Jessica, was a party girl who most likely took a boat out to an island to party and, drunk, fell into the lake. When Lilly is told that Jessica’s brother is a hotshot fighting the fire, she figures this might—unfortunately—be the only thing newsworthy about the drowning. It’s only after her disappointing interview with Jessica’s brother that Lilly learns Jessica’s last name, and realizes that she once knew her.
Her instant reaction is that there is no way Jessica was some party girl acting stupidly while drunk. The girl Lilly remembers was straight-laced and wouldn’t even touch alcohol. Her involvement with a controversial environmental group in the area was the only trouble Jessica ever got into, and Lilly doesn’t believe that she could have changed that much. The more she thinks about it, the more Lilly suspects that Jessica was actually murdered, but by insisting that the police investigate, Lilly gets into a little trouble herself. With the fire heading toward town—and the possible murder site—Lilly knows that time is running out. If she doesn’t prove that Jessica’s death wasn’t accidental, a killer will get away with murder.
The aptly named HOT, SHOT, AND BOTHERED is a thrilling mystery. As circumstance has it, Lilly is one of two shooters (news photographers) in the town of Elizabeth Lake in the midst of the fire. When she decides that Jessica was murdered, Lilly calls her reporter boyfriend, Rod, to come up and help her, so they are the only news team in the area when access is cut off. Yet, with the wildfire raging, and the career-making opportunity that she and Rod have been handed, all Lilly can think about is Jessica’s murder. When she manages to sneak off to do some investigating on her own, Lilly finds herself targeted by the killer, but she still can’t let it go.
A sometimes abrasive heroine—who often proves that she’s better off behind the camera than in front of it—Lilly is both realistic and fun. Filled with not only intrigue but also with humor, HOT, SHOT, AND BOTHERED is a book I highly recommend.