Hot, Shot, and Bothered
Review: Bakersfield news photographer and sometime reporter Lilly Hawkins is covering a California wildfire but not getting much "news" when she learns someone has died — definitely a newsworthy event — in Hot, Shot, and Bothered, the second mystery in this series by Nora McFarland.
Lilly is somewhat disappointed, however, when the death is unrelated to the fire: a woman has been found drowned, apparently accidentally, in a nearby lake. Still, news is news, and she proceeds to cover it. But when the woman is identified as one Jessica Egan, Lilly realizes she knows her from way back when, though they haven't kept in touch. While interviewing people to get background on Jessica, nearly everyone, including her own brother, disparages her to some degree or another, and seem not at all surprised that she's dead. The picture they are painting of Jessica is quite different from the person she remembers, and though people can and do change, Lilly rapidly comes to the conclusion that there may be more — much more — to this story.
Although Hot, Shot, and Bothered opens with quite a bit of action, the storyline drifts sideways rather than progressing forward over the first few chapters, a characteristic of this novel that proves to be more typical than not. There is considerable attention paid to the wildfires that provide an admittedly dramatic backdrop to Lilly's investigation. In a possibly intended metaphor, the storyline itself takes on the ebb and flow of the job the firefighters are doing, inching forward, being pushed back, but eventually getting a handle on the situation. And while the firestorm does play an integral role in the plot, it's more of a red herring than not … which is a little frustrating because the mysterious circumstances surrounding the drowning death of Jessica are sufficient in and of themselves to capture the reader's attention. This is a fast reading mystery with a number of interesting elements, but not an altogether fast moving one.
Acknowledgment: Simon & Schuster provided an ARC of Hot, Shot, and Bothered for this review.
Review Copyright © 2011 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
A Bad Day's Work
Touchstone (Trade Paperback), August 2010
ISBN-13: 9781439155486; ISBN-10: 1439155488
Going to the Bad
Touchstone (Trade Paperback), August 2012
ISBN-13: 9781439155578; ISBN-10: 1439155577
Location(s) referenced in Hot, Shot, and Bothered: Bakersfield, California
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Hot, Shot, and Bothered by Nora McFarland — A Lilly Hawkins Mystery
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: August 2011
List Price: $14.99