Get ready for a new type of spunky girl mystery! This second appearance of Lilly Hawkins, a TV news shooter for the local Bakersfield, California TV station, proves to be a summer stunner. Lilly is a very honest person, sort of. That’s to say she’s honest with herself about who she is now and who she was in the past. She’s not so honest about her intentions when it comes to her boss at the station or the local police and sheriff. A drowning death that she’s sent to video tape seems fishy to Lilly. It is one of the two concurrent mysteries that sustain the reader’s interest. Layered over the drowning is a breathtaking wildfire that may just consume the evidence at the location of the drowning. Who set the fire and why was Jessica Egan murdered?
McFarland sets the scene with plenty of realistic action. She has been behind the camera in Lilly’s shoes as a shooter for the news media. To McFarland’s credit, the details are helpful and she has resisted the urge to bury the reader in techno speak. One element that was lacking would have proven helpful for this reviewer. A simple graphic/map showing the general vicinity where the action takes place could have provided a sense of the movement in the story. Author Lisa Black’s thriller Trail of Blood that is set in Cleveland, Ohio contains one and it was an integral part of enjoying the book.
The characters in Hot, Shot, and Bothered are brought into the tale in a general locale, not exactly in Bakersfield, California, but nearby. As they are matched up with each other, for example the grocer and the lady mayor, the stakes are raised. McFarland is very adept at revealing her characters’ motivations at her own pace. She makes Lilly work under super pressure to cover the growing fire and satisfy her nagging doubts about the drowning.
A review copy was provided by the publisher. Hot, Shot, and Bothered was released on August 2, 2011. “Funny, smart and honest. Packed full of adrenaline and attitude. Don’t miss it!” Lisa Scottoline