Hot, Shot and Bothered by Nora McFarland is the second book in the “Lilly Hawkins” mystery series. Publisher: Touchstone, August 2011

TV news photographer Lilly Hawkins is on the biggest assignment of her career. A deadly inferno is racing through the California mountains toward the town of Elizabeth Lake. After barely slipping in ahead of road closures, Lilly has her hands full photographing the massive evacuation and approaching wildfire. She has no time to cover the accidental drowning of a reckless party-girl in the lake…until she learns the victim’s name.

When Lilly knew her thirteen years ago, Jessica Egan was a principled environmental activist and not a bit reckless or wild. Could she have changed that much, or is a killer exploiting the chaos surrounding the fire to disguise a murder?

Soon Lilly’s juggling the story she should be covering with the story she can’t let go. What could have been the motive for Jessica’s death? Was it sexual jealousy, long held grudges, or just plain old-fashioned greed that got Jessica killed? Meanwhile Lilly has to contend with her station’s low-budget technology, the antics of her dodgy uncle Bud, and the alarming job offers her boyfriend is fielding from big city competitors.

Lilly is racing against the clock to get answers. If only the murderer—or the fire—doesn’t get her first.

The past comes to visit Lilly when a friend’s body is found dead during a wildfire. When Lilly learns the circumstances, knowing what she knows, Lilly believes her friend has been murdered and since no one is taking her seriously, she begins looking into her friend’s past and present to unearth a killer before she finds herself ablaze. Oh man, what an exciting ride. This non-stop, action-filled and lighthearted tale kept my attention from the first chapter to the fulfilling conclusion and I couldn’t put this book down. The wildfire setting set the tone as the backdrop to the mystery at hand that had me guessing throughout most of the story. Lilly’s doggedness to find the truth puts her in harm’s way, but not before learning more about herself as well. With a strong cast, interesting factoids about fires, great dialogue and some added comic relief, this was an amazing read in adrenaline-rush series.

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