People, and why they do the things they do, are what draw me to a book and hold my interest. In Hilary Davidson's debut crime novel, THE DAMAGE DONE, she has written a provocative, extremely moving story that transcends the genre. For me, the appeal of this novel is the story about two very different sisters and the unshakeable allegiance they have to each other and the bonds of family - even amid a relationship that is frayed, flawed, and distant on so many levels.
How's this for a powerful opening paragraph?
It was the bright yellow tape that finally convinced me my sister was dead. When the police had called me, I’d cried for her, but afterward a slender thread of suspicion had snaked into my brain and coiled itself around my thoughts. Claudia was deceitful, like every junkie has to be, but she also had a temper and hated to be ignored. I’d kept my distance from her since September; maybe being the butt of the world’s worst practical joke was the price I would pay for four months of silence. That suspicion didn’t deter me from getting on the first flight I could out of Barcelona, but it kept my heart beating at a relatively steady pace until I’d arrived in New York. Part of me believed that I would come home and find my sister waiting for me with her dark eyes and twisted smile, pleased with herself for tricking me back into her orbit.
The twist is that Lily, the narrator of this well-rendered novel, learns that the body she has come home to identify is not the body of her sister, Claudia, at all. It seems as though somebody else has died in her apartment (an apartment she had sublet to her sister) and that somebody else had taken on her sister's identity. But where, then, is Claudia? The clues are many. Lily might've been estranged from her sister, but she knew Claudia's tastes always veered more toward Thomas Mann, Dostoyevsky and Poe rather than the Sex in the City DVD she finds left in the player in the apartment. Carefully revealed details like these and an intriguing cast of well-drawn characters make the reader question the motives of nearly everyone involved in this unraveling tale of psychological suspense.
Amid the plot points of the search, Claudia's absence turns into a presence that gradually becomes more and more palpable. Davidson peels back layers to reveal the psyches of these respective sisters, gradually exposing dark secrets spawned from shared traumas experienced in the girls' childhoods. Lily's determined plight to find her sister eventually forces her to confront her past until she ultimately discovers herself and comes to more fully appreciate the meaning of the verb to love. Along the way, Davidson keeps the reader guessing, turning pages to see what will happen next - and there are greats twists along the way.
The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson
Forge Books, Hardcover, 978-0765326973, 352 pages
Publication Date: September 28, 2010
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