Review — EVIL IN ALL ITS DISGUISES by Hilary Davidson

Lily Moore is a travel writer who’s been running from her “real life” professionally for years. Prior to the events in The Damage Done (Davidson’s award-winning debut novel), Lily had been avoiding her junkie sister and the memories of their alcoholic mother. After, she finds herself mourning not only the death of her sister, but the loss of a person she never let herself really get to know, the non-junkie side of Claudia.

Of course it’s not necessary to have read Davidson’s other two novels in order to enjoy Evil In All Its Disguises, but aside from the standalone plot, Lily’s been evolving and it’s nice to experience her journey so far. It’s especially helpful to have read The Damage Done – and I mean, you should do that anyway because it’s terrific – but again, not necessary.

Lily’s trying to live her life again, to move beyond grief to acceptance and she’s been doing a pretty good job. At the same time, she’s been questioning whether her “home” is still in Barcelona or back in New York City where her best friend and enigmatic “love interest” Bruxton reside. She’s a woman used to living without mooring wondering if it’s time to dock somewhere for a while. She’s also still a travel writer, but the industry, like so many these days, isn’t what it used to be and she’s wondering if maybe it’s time to transition to something else.

In other words, she’s a human dust mote, floating around with only an inclination to land someplace, which makes becoming trapped within a single hotel even more ominous for her. Unlike her guileless travel companions on the press tour, she’s having a hard time sitting back and enjoying the champagne and free food. First of all, one of her fellow travelers is missing and while everyone keeps assuring her it’s not a big deal and that the woman will turn up, that it’s another one of her tricks, that someone will notify the authorities if necessary… she’s not convinced. Then, she finds out the hotel belongs to her ex-fiancé’s company. If she’d known that, she’d have never agreed to come, but now that Skye’s missing, she’s torn between wanting to stay and find out what happened and getting the hell out as soon as possible.

There’s something creepy about staying in a nearly-empty hotel. It’s creepy enough if, like I did once, you just find yourself going and coming when all the other guests are still sleeping. It’s even spookier if you know you’re one of six guests – and one of them has already vanished.

Pros: Spooky, well-written, and excellent character development arc. The darkened hallways and back staircases will make you look over your shoulder and keep you up too late. Davidson knows her stuff and it’s fun to watch her show off.

Cons: Every once in a while, I wanted to smack Lily. I want her to be less trusting, but that’s my problem, not hers. She is her own person, even if she’s imaginary, so my wanting to smack her is probably just a sign that she’s too realistic. If you decide to read this while on vacation in a Mexican resort, don’t blame me if you don’t sleep well.

Bottom Line: Davidson’s mingled her love of old films, her own travel writing career, and the dark places of her mind to create a mystery that feels like a ghost story, but with modern twists that owe nothing to the supernatural. If you’ve read her other two Lily Moore books, you already know you need to pick this one up. If you haven’t yet, it’s time to stop waiting. Get thee to a bookstore.