- Tariq Lawrence
Oh, what a deliciously tangled web of circumstances does author Hilary Davidson weave in her masterful debut, The Damage Done.
Travel writer Lily Moore is called home to New York from Spain with the horrible news that her sister, Claudia, has been found dead in the apartment they share. Even worse, Claudia’s death appears to be a suicide, tragically timed to coincide with the anniversary of their mother’s suicide.
Given she had fled to Spain in large part to get away from the downward spiral that had become her heroin addict sister’s life, Lily returns home under a shroud of guilt. Could she have prevented her sister’s death if she had been there?
Lily’s grief quickly turns to confusion, however, when upon going to the medical examiner’s office to officially identify Claudia’s body she discovers the person found dead in their apartment was not her sister. Someone had been impersonating Claudia and living as her for the past six months. But who, and why? And where is Claudia?
Lily’s quest to find the answers to those questions forms the framework for one of the most tantalizing, twisted, multilayered pieces of crime fiction I’ve read in quite some time. Like her protagonist, Hilary Davidson’s background is that of a travel writer, and the experiences she has had traveling the globe to varied cultures and locales clearly shine through in the wonderfully nuanced descriptions of both people and places that permeate The Damage Done.
Davidson has populated her tale with a cast worthy of an old school Hitchcock film: Lily’s overly attentive ex-fiancé and real-estate tycoon Martin Sklar; Claudia’s former lover Tariq Lawrence, a mysterious and extremely wealthy man; Lily’s fiercely loyal, and funny, best friend Jesse; the two detectives who vacillate between thinking Claudia is a victim or a suspect. Every player is so well defined you practically expect them to walk off the page.
In fact, The Damage Done is such a stunning debut it almost defies belief that this is Davidson’s first novel. The self-assurance with which she writes is breathtaking in its brazenness. Davidson doesn’t knock on the door, wait to be invited in, then politely ask you to read her book. No, she kicks that sucker down, makes herself right at home, and dares you to deal with the Damage. And it’s a dare you should readily accept, but you best be prepared to keep up because Davidson is going places, and she’s got no time to waste with anyone who’s not down with her beautiful brand of madness.
PS – Dear New York Times Best Seller List and Big Boys of Crime Fiction: Reserve space (near the top, of course) and watch your backs…Hilary Davidson is on the scene doing Damage.
The Damage Done is available from Forge Books (ISBN: 978-0765326973).