Friday’s Forgotten Books: Wilted Lilies by Kelli Owen

Detective Travis Butler has been selected to interview Lily May Holloway. The reason? He isn’t from her town. He’s an outsider, and because he’s an outsider he doesn’t have any preconceived ideas about Lily May or some of the events she needs to talk about.

This entire novella takes place in the police station. From almost start to finish, Lily May holds the narrative, although Travis is our point of view character, and it’s his thoughts that are sprinkled throughout.

Lily May is just old enough to have some keen insights, but still young enough to share her story openly, or so it seems. Travis isn’t inclined to believe her initial comments about hearing people’s thoughts, and eventually hearing and seeing the dead, but he does what he’s been told to do — indulge her, get her to talk.

There’s a man on the other side of the interrogation room window, watching and listening. Travis isn’t sure who he is or what he wants, other than for Travis to get Lily May to tell her tale.

As the pieces start to come together, Travis learns about the murder of Lily’s friend Tommy, and how it connects to the harrowing ordeal Lily has just experienced herself. But can Travis truly believe everything Lily says about the voices in her head, or is there something even more sinister at work here?

This story engaged and engrosses from page 1. Lily May is an amazing character with her own distinct voice, and more than capable of holding the story through her dialogue. The brief moments when she leaves to go to the bathroom or get something to eat are used brilliantly by Owen to inject information about the interview itself and who’s listening in. I was captivated from the start, and this book never feels like it lets the action lag, despite the fact that it’s primarily dialogue told in a generic police interview room, away from the events explored. Highly recommended.