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Lillian Dove #1

Admit to Mayhem

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None of us want to admit our lives are unmanageable. We prefer the charade that we are in control. Lillian Dove, however, is constantly reminded she has very little control over her life and only has the ability to move to the choices that come her way.

The Lillian Dove Series is a journey in recovery. While Lillian is a recovering alcoholic, like many who struggle with addictions come to understand, stopping drinking does not mean life returns to normal. However, as this series begins, Lillian does realize she has compulsions and addictions to many things, not just Absolut.

How we handle dependency and denial is what allows for choice. In Admit to Mayhem, Lillian needs to admit her life has become unraveled again when she becomes an eyewitness to arson. Probing into a cold case of arson sixty years ago and the arson she witnessed at the beginning of this novel helps her admit to some of her own life’s challenges and successes.

Admit to Mayhem, offering comedic dysfunction, is not only a suspenseful mystery but an important step for Lillian’s self-identity--and possibly for the reader’s.
Admit: I admit that my life has become unmanageable.

286 pages, Paperback

First published August 25, 2014

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About the author

D.J. Adamson

8 books232 followers

Admit to Mayhem, Midwest Book Festival Award, Nominated for a Clue Award in Suspense.

Suppose, 2018 Mystery & Mayhem Award.

D. J. Adamson is the author of the Lillian Dove Mystery series and the Deviation science fiction-suspense trilogy. She teaches writing and literature at Los Angeles colleges.

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5 stars
85 (38%)
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86 (38%)
3 stars
33 (14%)
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13 (5%)
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4 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews
1,304 reviews32 followers
July 18, 2015
I enjoyed this mystery because the heroine is a "every woman" and a recovering alcoholic. She investigates a house fire that has a history of arson and murder. She is not a smooth detective type but I feel that makes her more endearing.
Profile Image for Yvonne.
1,104 reviews245 followers
March 27, 2015
Lillian Dove is a recovering alcoholic, but she does have other addictions like chocolate, Pepsi and men. She is striving to make a good life for herself and even has a new guy in her life, Chief Charles Kaefring. Lillian is owned by a cat named Bacardi and holds down two jobs – one as a phone facilitator for the police department and one has a clerk in a liquor store, of all things.

On her way home, after spending the night at Charles’ house, Lillian spots a house fire. She calls for help, but notices that someone is trapped inside. She tries to help the person, but ends up receiving injuries of her own and there is no sign that anyone had been trapped inside. It’s beginning to look like Lillian saw an arsonist and now she’s the only eyewitness. Unfortunately, she didn’t see clear enough to identify anyone.

Things get worse as she is laid off from her job at the police station and she’s responsible for her sick mother. None of this stops her from snooping around trying to figure out who is behind the arson and why. She learns there is more here than meets the eye. Now, she finds herself, and those she loves, in more danger than she could imagine.

This is a captivating novel with a main character who is very realistic. She’s a middle-aged woman trying to make ends meet. She’s not perfect and she refuses to back down from a fight. She’s a character I felt I could cheer for. I’m not sure about the secondary characters in the book yet, but I’m sure I will learn more as there is a sequel coming.

The author gives us an interesting mystery set in a small town in Iowa. Frytown is complete with people gossiping and knowing everyone’s business. The storyline is something mystery lovers will enjoy sinking their teeth into as they try to uncover the culprit right along with Lillian. Good, solid start to the series.


FTC Disclosure: The author provided me with a copy of this book to review for this blog tour. This did not influence my thoughts and opinions in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Bonnie.
259 reviews
August 14, 2017
But for the curious ending, this mystery would have been a 5 star! Lillian Dove is in Frytown, where her brother relocated their mother, Dahlia, thinking a senior condo would better suit her needs. After her second stroke he called Lillian & stated "You owe her." & (since she had left home at 18) "Some of us had to stay & bear the burden."........ He had moved their mother to a convalescent home, & told Lillian that she needn't call when she dies, I'm done! & hung up!!! Lillian then moved into the condo, & found a job answering the phone for the Frytown Police Department. Since she's a recovering alcoholic I was surprised her other PT job was at a liquor store. Leaving the Chief's house in her convertible at 6:30 a.m. She soon catches a whiff of burning wood & smoke., calling the house fire in to 911 leaves a record of where she was that early morning! She sees someone in the upstairs & goes looking for a ladder..... Therein lies the tale! Many Thanks to the author, Goodreads for the opportunity to read & review this book.
Profile Image for Pamela Sewell.
227 reviews15 followers
February 20, 2019
Generously given by author for review. Lillian Dove is the product of a dysfunctional family and 5 years on the road of sobriety. When her brother washes his hands of their difficult mother, Lillian reluctantly returns to Frytown, Iowa. After reporting a house fire, she attempts rescue. No one believes there was anyone in the house. She learns the house burned 60 years ago with no survivors. Or were there? Is it arson or accident? In Lillian's search for answers she find local secrets held close and the picture is clouded by reflections of the past. I became invested in the character as the author clearly articulates her daily struggles with addiction and her history. The suspects and motives for the crime are sublely unveiled in the chronicling of small town life. Clever misdirection and touches of humor enhanced the plot. A solid first entry in a "Midwest noir" amateur sleuth series, and I would definitely follow the series.
201 reviews21 followers
May 21, 2015
What a great book - I loved it! Full of mystery and intrigue from start to finish. I found it very difficult to put down and found myself carrying it with me wherever I went - just in case I had a chance to read a page or two. The author really developed her lead character well and she was so real.

I highly recommend this book.
Profile Image for William Bitner Jr..
500 reviews21 followers
February 22, 2019
Admit to Mayhem (Lillian Dove Mystery - Book 1)
By D.J. Adamson

Genre - Fiction
Category - Mystery/Suspense/Thriller/Amateur Sleuth/Female Sleuth/Recovery
Pages - 311
Format - Kindle
Publication Information - Horatio Press - August 24, 2014
Reviewed by William C. Bitner (https://booksinmylibraryblog.wordpres...)
Rating - 📙📙📙📙

As a recovering alcoholic and a bit of an amateur sleuth myself I looked forward to reading Admit to Mayhem: Lillian Dove Mystery - Book 1 by D.J. Adamson. This was a fun read and filled with lots of twists and turns. I was however a wee bit disappointed with the ending. I felt there could have been so much more to it. Up until the last chapter and the last few pages this was a strong 5 book rating. There were great characters and the story was believable and easy to follow. Ms. Adamson did a very good job at setting the scene of a small-town midwest American community. Her characters, as flawed as they were are well formed and relatable. I appreciated the effort, time and research Ms. Adamson must have put into telling the backstory of Lillian’s journey through recovery while staying true to her plot and storyline. I look forward to reading more of D.J. Adamson in the future.

Synopsis (from the back cover): None of us want to admit our lives are unmanageable. We prefer the charade that we are in control.

Lillian Dove, however, is constantly reminded she has very little control over her life and only has the ability to move to the choices that come her way.

The Lillian Dove Series is a journey in recovery. While Lillian is a recovering alcoholic, like many who struggle with addictions come to understand, stopping drinking does not mean life returns to normal. However, as this series begins, Lillian does realize she has compulsions and addictions to many things, not just Absolut.
How we handle dependency and denial is what allows for choice.

In Admit to Mayhem, Lillian needs to admit her life has become unraveled again when she becomes an eyewitness to arson. Probing into a cold case of arson sixty years ago and the arson she witnessed at the beginning of this novel helps her admit to some of her own life’s challenges and successes.

Admit to Mayhem, offering comedic dysfunction, is not only a suspenseful mystery but an important step for Lillian’s self-identity--and possibly for the reader’s.

Admit: I admit that my life has become unmanageable.

About the author: D. J. Adamson is an award-winning author. Her family roots grow deep in the Midwest and it is here she sets much of her work. Admit to Mayhem is the first novel in her Lillian Dove Mystery Series. Diann juggles her time between her own desk and teaching writing to others at two Los Angeles area colleges. Along with her husband and two Welsh Terriers, she makes her home in Southern California.

Other work by D.J. Adamson: Outre (Deviation Trilogy), Suppose (Lillian Dove Mystery - Book Two) and Let Her Go (Lillian Dove Mystery.
Profile Image for James Sorensen.
229 reviews2 followers
December 22, 2018
I won this book as part of the Goodreads First-Read program.

Lillian Dove is a small town girl. She is a recovering alcoholic and has relationship issues with her mother. She is a hard worker just trying to make ends met for her and her cat Bacardi. And maybe someday she'll find someone to care for her.

When the opportunity presents itself she spends a stormy night with The Chief of Police, Charles. On the ride home early the next morning she see smoke and finds a house on fire. The Carter Family is on vacation, but Lillian see someone in an upstairs bedroom and she goes to the rescue, but the stranger is gone. Lillian herself ends up needing to be rescued and no one wants to believe her story of a person in the house.

The next day as reward Lilian gets laid off, she works with Charles at the Police station, and wonders if the lay off is because of her night spent with the Chief.

In the ensuing days she finds out that the Carter house was burnt down once before almost sixty years ago, only the first fire took the lives of the Dillard Family. Lillian is determined to find the connection between the fire sixty years ago and the fire that burned out the Carters. And the mystery deepens when Lillian learns that Horace Dillard, the family patriarch, was murdered.

While looking for a new job, running into a number of interesting characters and dealing with a mother who barely acknowledges her, Lillian pursues the stranger in the window to prove she wasn't making up a story.

D.J. Adamson has created an interesting character in Lillian Dove the amateur sleuth. "Admit to Mayhem has many twists and turns that keep the reader guessing as even Lillian keeps changing her mind as to who she thinks set the fire and who might have killed Horace Dillard 60+ years ago. As she works on both mystery's the reader will find in Lillian and interesting new protagonist in this new series by D.J. Adamson.

My only complaint is that some formatting/editing issues made it into the book which cause some awkwardness in reading the book. In one place a sentence begins on one line and is completed several lines later on the page. Hopefully these problem will be corrected in future printings.

Despite the editing problems I found "Admit to Mayhem" to be a pretty good read with some very interesting characters and I look forward to the next installment of Lillian Dove.
Profile Image for Jalynn Patterson.
2,122 reviews31 followers
January 29, 2015
About the Book:

With a contrary attitude and an addiction for independence, Lillian Dove admits she has not been a success in life. In fact, she considers failing as one of her addictions. Yet, when she comes across a suspicious house fire with a history of arson and murder, she instinctively attempts to help someone trapped. Lillian becomes the only possible eyewitness to criminal arson, and her life begins to spiral out of control.

Lillian Dove is an endearing “every woman” struggling with life issues, emotional complexities and a habit of doing just the opposite of what she’s told to do. These qualities in a heroine give the reader an ability to vicariously struggle along with the protagonist in this intriguing Midwest Noir mystery.



About the Author:

D. J. Adamson is an award-winning author. Her family roots grow deep in the Midwest and it is here she sets much of her work. Admit to Mayhem is the first novel in her Lillian Dove Mystery Series. Diann juggles her time between her own desk and teaching writing to others at two Los Angeles area colleges. Along with her husband and two Welsh Terriers, she makes her home in Southern California.



My Review:

This story was a little hard to get into at first. I wasn't crazy about the main character but as I read on I was pulled into Lillian's story and I desperately wanted to help her. No one believed her when she suspected a person trapped in a burning house. It seems like a race against time. I felt so sorry for Lillian. The mystery seems to linger on until the end amidst the struggles of the main character. I didn't care much for the language but was able to overlook it as I read on. Admit to Mayhem, is a great mystery followed by a huge climax of intrigue! Lillian seems to discover that there is a some odd coincidences involving this house, hopefully she will get down to the bottom of this before it's too late.

**Disclosure** This book was sent to me free of charge for my honest review from Pump Up Your Book.

Profile Image for Claire Matturro.
Author 12 books73 followers
February 19, 2019
The tone and setting reminded me of a Joan Hess book (and I mean that as praise as I always enjoyed Hess's books). Like Hess, the author makes splendidly good use of a small town setting, gossip, and displays a dry sense of humor throughout, and caps it all off with well-written prose.

Lillian Dove, the narrator and main character, is trapped in a small town to care for her difficult mother. She works part-time in a liquor store even though she is is a recovering alcoholic, and her insightful comments on drinking in general, and her drinking in particular, add a great deal to this book. She also works part-time at the police station--or she does until she is either fired, laid-off, or quit depending upon who is telling the story.

While still working at the police department, once morning, coming home from an accidental sleep-over with her boss, the police chief, she spots a fire. She sees someone in the house, and climbs a latter to try and rescue the person. Things spiral out of control from that point on, and Lillian never really has a grip on anything--but she's got spunk, she's smart, and she has friends. And she has a great cat! No, the cat does not solve any mysteries, but adds warmth and softness to the story.

The romance took a back seat to the mystery, and the story depends mostly on the odd charm, hapless misadventures, and wit of the main character. It's a likable book, with a likable heroine, and starts off the series well enough.

There's a comfortable cozy-mystery quality to the story, and like many of Hess's books, there are teenagers who add to the story and the plot. Overall, readable, charming, with crisp, clear sentences and snappy dialogue and enough plot twists to keep the pace and the mystery flowing.
Profile Image for Julie Howard.
Author 2 books15 followers
May 28, 2021
I enjoyed this book. This is the first book by this author that I have read or listened to but it won't be my last, especially if there are more books in this series. I liked the main character and she might be a recovering alcoholic but that is not the main focus of the book. The rest of the characters were also likeable and the story really gives you a sense of the small town community. The mystery was interesting with a well thought out plot that keeps you guessing where the story was going to take you next. There is a love interest but with so much going wrong in her life Lillian doesn't have much time to pursue it but it adds some drama to the book. Just a good all round mystery.
When a sudden thunderstorm arrives it means its not safe to drive home from a bar-b-que and Lillian spends the night at her boss's house. When she sneaks home in the early hours she is the only witnesses to a house fire. When she sees someone still inside the house she puts her life in danger to help. When the fireman arrive Lillian is the only one to be rescued. Lillian knows what see saw but convincing the police means the home owner is arrested. The house was burnt down before and only one family member survived. Lillian believes the police arrested the wrong man and the only way to find the real arsonist is to lot into the past and find out the truth behind the first fire and losing her job means she has plenty of time to visit her ailing mother and investigate.
I liked the narrator and thought she did a good job of bringing the characters to life.
I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
Profile Image for Dawn.
1,511 reviews18 followers
May 11, 2015
I received a free copy of this book for an honest review.

Admit to Mayhem is a mystery with a lot of twists. Some of them were pretty easy to guess but some were surprising. When I started reading this book, I had to double check to make sure it was a mystery because it starts more like women’s fiction but it turns into a mystery pretty quickly.

Admit to Mayhem is based in a small town where everyone knows everyone else which can make things interesting. For example, when Lillian tries to save someone in a burning house she’s on her way home from spending the night with someone. Based on her location in the early morning hours, everyone in town quickly knew that she’d spent the night with him.

The main character, Lillian, struggles with addiction as well as a dysfunctional family. She is smart and independent, dealing with alcoholism and a horrible mother who’s in a nursing home, and she feels obligated to visit her every day. Although she’s able to solve this mystery pretty much on her own, there were times that her decisions drove me crazy! Or, I should say her not thinking things through before she acts drove me crazy.

Anyone who likes a mystery with some twists should enjoy Admit to Mayhem.
Profile Image for Sheri.
1,947 reviews
January 23, 2015
Admit to Mayhem by D. J. Adamson

Lillian Dove is a witness to a house fire assumed to be arson. She being the only witness gets involved with trying to unravel this mystery. She is certain she saw someone in the house, and she is not quite sure who pulled her out. Lillian finds the house has a bit of history too. It seems that many years ago the house was set on fire, and people were murdered. Are the two incidents connected? Is the house jinxed in some way? Lillian is about to find out, no matter what.

A fast paced cozy murder mystery. I really liked Lillian, she is flawed. Being a recovering alcoholic, unlucky in love, she considers herself a failure in life. I being from Chicago, liked the fact the story was set in the Midwest. I also liked that Lillian has her own problems, it was interesting to see her handle her personal life as well as being the main witness. I liked the plot, and the writing (well written). I recommend Admit to Mayhem to those who love a great who-done-it.
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 17 books162 followers
October 24, 2014
Enter small town Iowa and shake your head in disbelief as the tale of lives doubling back on one another unfolds. Diann Adamson masterfully takes you into this world and keeps you there with crisp writing depicting small town ironies. The story is mostly told in dialogue reminding me of an Elemore Leonard’s style. Her characters are horribly flawed creating a challenge for the author to make them sympathetic to the reader. No one is perfect in this story, but then neither is anyone in real life. When Lillian Dove, a hapless heroine, tries to save a ghostly figure in a burning house she finds herself in a quagmire with the local police by taking the search for the missing victim in her own hands. The story is a fun romp through the corn fields of rural Iowa to a surprising conclusion I won’t give away here.
Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawaii
Profile Image for April.
2,117 reviews34 followers
September 24, 2019
Admit to Mayhem
D. J. Adamson

Lillian Dove is a recovering alcoholic, that is trying to get her life together. She has a couple part time jobs. one she gets fired from. When she reports a house fire, she starts snooping around trying to investigate the history of the house. There is plenty of action, some subtle humor a bit of romance, plenty of mystery, and a cat. This kept me listening to see what Lillian would get into next.



The narration was well done. The characters were well portrayed by : Jan Kennedy.



I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
220 reviews
June 11, 2015
D. J. Adamson gives an extremely realistic picture of small town life. Although Lillian Dove admits to being far from perfect, you see glimpses of a caring individual with a good heart. What a great book - I loved it! Full of mystery and intrigue from start to finish. The author really developed her lead character well and she was so real.
I would love to read more from D.J. Adamsom. She makes for an interesting reading mystery a great pleasure.
I won this book as part of the Goodreads First-Read program.
Profile Image for Victoria Brinius.
698 reviews94 followers
March 19, 2015
I just finished a great mystery with a woman sleuth called "Lilian Dove". I like to read about woman who become embroiled in a mystery by mistake. They seem to have been just in the right place at the right time. Lilian Dove had no intention of being involved in a mystery surrounding a house fire that she had run to because she was worried if someone could not escape. Before she knows it she is trying to solve the mystery and finds more issues along the way. I give this book a 4/5. I was given this book for the purpose of a review and all opinions a re my own.
Profile Image for Kate R.
9 reviews
August 7, 2016
The portrait the author paints of the main character, Lillian Dove is one with an emotionally abusive childhood, addiction and insecurities that made her seem real, flawed, and vulnerable. But she’s also brave, honest, keeps her commitments and stands up to bullies. For me, it’s important to really like the main character in a book- especially a series- and I liked Lillian Dove. I found it to be a well-written mystery that kept me guessing. I’ll be continuing this series now! I would definitely recommend to a friend.
Profile Image for Reggie.
2,681 reviews
January 17, 2021
Good cozy mystery

Recovering alcoholic, Lillian Dove, is living in her mother’s senior condo after having to move her to senior care facility. Lillian is a bit of a hot mess, but she means well. She witnesses someone at a house fire but no-one believes her...then she gets laid off from her PT job at the sheriff’s dispatch. Lillian believes that there’s more to the story of the fire, and the wrong man is in custody. The problem is getting the sheriff to believe. Lillian doesn’t let that stop her...she’s going to solve a crime! Good story.
Profile Image for Ashley Hedden.
4,627 reviews25 followers
January 30, 2021
Admit to Mayhem (Lillian Dove #1) was a good read by D.J. Adamson. Lillian Dove finds herself constantly reminded that she has little control of her life. Lillian is a recovering alcoholic and is trying to find a normalcy in her life. Lillian finds that she must admit that her life has unraveled again when she is a witness to arson. She finds herself looking into a cold case of arson sixty years ago as well as the one she witnessed. I enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more in this series.
Profile Image for Peggy.
2,212 reviews37 followers
February 10, 2015
An absolute page turner! This book will keep you up all night reading! It's completely a book you don't expect to enjoy, but a book that will have you hooked right from the beginning! I can't express just how much this book will boggle your mind! All I can really say is, if you haven't read it yet, you are missing out on a fantastic read!

*Received for an honest review*

*Sorry NO spoilers*
Profile Image for BECKY ROE.
15 reviews2 followers
August 1, 2016
She's just a small town girl... living in a lonely world...
Enter Lillian Dove. She's a lonely girl, with a cloudy background like most of us. She's struggling with her mommy/daughter relationship, she's also a recovering alcoholic. She throws herself into her work, cares for her kitty, ironically named "BACARDI". Life is lonely and uneventful.
And then.
The entire review is found on my blog:

http://mightyminnesotamama.blogspot.com
666 reviews15 followers
May 2, 2019
This book was very interesting. It was unique and different in a good way. I enjoyed reading it. It has so many ups and downs. I love the main character and her pursuit of the truth despite her being an addict to booze. She maintains despite all the troubles that come her way. I was surprised at the ending of the book too. It makes me want to read more from this series and this author. I will be following her from now on too!
Profile Image for Billie.
5,554 reviews63 followers
September 15, 2019
This was a very enjoyable read.
No matter if you have addictions to alcohol or drugs you can relate to what the character is feeling..
I really conncected with the character and enjoyed this very much.
The plot and story line do take a little time but once connected it is very suspenseful and keeps you guessing.
Looking forward to more in this series.
Recommend reading.

I voluntarily reviewed an advance reader copy. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Profile Image for Page .
291 reviews
December 18, 2020
I liked almost everything about this book. The writing tended toward gritty. The heroine was far from perfect but was an extremely sympathetic character. I want her to succeed. The mystery was good. I didn't figure it out till I was told what happened and yet it didn't feel like a stretch. Looking forward to the next installment.
Profile Image for Susan Csoke.
506 reviews10 followers
June 3, 2021
Lillian Dove is a woman of many addictions. She has her hands full when her brother gives up on their mother and Lillian has to move back to Iowa to take charge. Along the way she faces many dilemmas and mysteries. And she may not like the answers that she is searching for. A good > entertaining read that will keep you turning the pages. I loved it.
542 reviews1 follower
May 28, 2016
You will enjoy this book ! A good read. Very well done with a balance between Lillian Dover's personal life and a mystery that starts with a house fire. Lots of twists and turns. Some you can guess and some you don't expect.
31 reviews2 followers
February 24, 2019
Needs a thorough edit! Wrong words used, missing words and spelling errors. The plot was OK but the whole ambience of the book seemed unremittingly dreary and sad. Would not read another book by this author.
Profile Image for Rosemary Hughes.
2,900 reviews15 followers
April 24, 2021
An excellent "who done it", which keeps you guessing right to the end.
The main character is an unlikely slueth, but someone that just let an issue go.
Fast paced and madcap mayhem, for sure, but a very good read.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 39 reviews

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