Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Damage Done by, Hilary Davidson

It was the bright yellow tape that finally convinced me my sister was dead.


Lily Moore fled to Spain to get away from her troubled, drug-addicted younger sister, Claudia.  When Claudia is found dead in a bathtub on the anniversary of their mother's suicide, Lily must return to New York to deal with the aftermath.  At first, Lily's resigned to the fact that her sister's demons had finally caught up to her, but she soon discovers that the woman at the morgue is not Claudia.  Was her sister still alive? Where was she? And who was the person found in the bathtub?

I've mentioned Hilary Davidson once before on this blog, but now I finally pulled her debut The Damage Done off my TBR pile.  Not only is she a great short story writer, but The Damage Done won the Anthony Award for Best First Novel.  It's a great debut novel that incorporates a lot of the classic genre elements, but still feels fresh and new.  It wasn't until I finished the book and started formulating my review that I noticed the more genre elements.  Mistaken identities, missing relatives, sleazy doctors, and shady hotel magnates - this book has them all.  The shady hotel magnate is Lily's ex-fiancee and pulls double duty as the male femme fatale (homme fatale?).  There were a couple places where  I thought the relationship was describe perfectly (I should have marked them down), but here's one I was able to find again.  Lily and her ex, Martin, meet for drinks at a flamenco bar and Martin slowly tries to seduce Lily.
He touched my shoulder, then let his fingers slide lightly down my arm.  When we were a couple he was constantly, incessantly affectionate.  At first I'd found it romantic, but later I'd realized that it was more like a craving that never subsided.
Not a bad description of extreme attraction, or an addiction to drugs if you want to look at it that way.  Throughout the book, Davidson does a splendid job of conveying Lily's feelings and her depictions of the various relationships (family, friendship, ex-lovers) is spot on - especially at their most heartbreaking.

What does this have to do with this week's song of the week?  Lily is obsessed with old movies and music and especially Ava Gardner, whose third marriage was to Frank Sinatra.

My one small complaint about the book has to do with the pacing.  From the opening page until the reveal that the dead woman wasn't Claudia, the book continues to build steam.  Lily's investigation uncovers clues and suspects in a timely manner, but there isn't much sense of urgency until she makes her way to the treatment center where Claudia spent some time.  From then on, the last 100 pages or so, dominoes fall into place on every other page until we're left with a complete picture of what happened.

Overall, I enjoyed The Damage Done and would recommend it even to people who aren't fans of crime/mystery.  The second Lily Moore adventure, The Next One To Fall, was released on February 14th of this year and will make its way onto my TBR pile.

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