A Bad Day's Work
Review: After Bakersfield television "shooter" Lilly Hawkins gets a scoop and films a crime scene in which a local young man is found murdered, events begin to spiral out of control for her in A Bad Day's Work, the first mystery in this series by Nora McFarland.
For starters, her scoop is a bust, the film is blank, and on thin ice already with the station management, Lilly is suspended. But the press-averse owner of the property on which the crime took place doesn't know the film doesn't exist nor does the gang that's running a truck hijacking operation in the area … and both come after Lilly. But not before the police step in and demand the film, accusing her of interfering with their investigation. With nothing to give any of her pursuers, she tries to remember exactly what happened while she was at the site of the murder, and why it is so important to so many people that it — whatever "it" is — not be revealed.
Lilly Hawkins has an enormous chip on her shoulder. Quick to anger, and one whose typical conversational manner is yelling, she's a difficult character to like. The premise of this novel is that she's having a tough run of luck, but it's hard for the reader to be sympathetic to her plight when her actions — or lack thereof — are portrayed as the result of professional incompetence rather than something happening out of her control. There are attempts to inject humor into some of the situations in which she finds herself, but they lack confidence (or maybe conviction) and typically fall flat. Furthermore, the murder mystery itself is weakly developed, takes far too long to get going — the initial focus being on Lilly herself — and does not really hit its stride until well past the first third of the book.
With its small city setting, a lead character in an occupation where she wears many hats, and the author's insider view of the television industry, the series would seem to be capable of delivering a number of interesting, diverse, off-beat mystery plots. But this initial effort is hampered on several fronts, and, somewhat surprisingly, given its potential for originality, probably suffers most from being far too derivative.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided a copy of A Bad Day's Work for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Hot, Shot, and Bothered
Touchstone (Trade Paperback), August 2011
ISBN-13: 9781439155561; ISBN-10: 1439155569
Location(s) referenced in A Bad Day's Work: Bakersfield, California
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A Bad Day's Work by Nora McFarland — A Lilly Hawkins Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2010
List Price: $14.99