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Evil in All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson
Cover Artist: Shutterstock
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Forge Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765333520
Date: 05 March 2013 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Travel guide writer, Lily Moore, flies to the Hotel Ceron in Acapulco as a member of a press trip. At a bar, she encounters a friend and fellow writer, Skye McDermott. A born manipulator, Skye keeps raving about getting revenge against a wealthy man she's been dating. Insisting on keeping his identity a secret, she leaves to make a quick phone call but never returns. Unable to rest until she locates her friend, Lily spends the next few days searching the creepy, isolated Hotel Ceron. Soon, she discovers that she and her traveling companions are prisoners and pawns in a deadly game involving drugs and money laundering.

Hilary Davidson's third novel (Evil in All Its Disguises), involving the independent, headstrong Lily Moore, is not as thrilling as its two predecessors (The Damage Done and The Next One to Fall). Nearly two-thirds of the novel involves the narrator's search for a missing person and her account of the strange happenings at this Mexican hotel in a city that is being terrorized by drug cartels. With its cliff diving demonstrations near the Hotel Ceron, Acapulco is depicted as a beautiful city during the daylight hours; however, because of its drug-related kidnappings and decapitations, tourists cannot venture out at night. In the 1940s, when Hollywood celebrities built their vacation homes there, Acapulco was once a heaven on earth; it has now become a virtual hell. In the novel's opening, a snake--symbolic of the serpent in the Garden of Eden--terrorizes Lily in the hotel's lobby.

The pacing for most of the novel is extremely slow. The first corpse is finally discovered on page 209, much to my relief. (It isn't a true murder mystery until there is a murder.) Up until then, my desperation for a corpse nearly caused me to throw myself out of my apartment window. At least there would be one corpse, my own. The novel's pacing slowly increases as Lily begins realizing she cannot leave the hotel and she and her friends are in grave danger. Cell phones, laptops, and all other communication devices begin disappearing. Security guards become brutish. Desk clerks promise to call taxis but never do. There are reports of drug cartels decapitating hostages but Lily never witnesses any firsthand. When someone comes to rescue Lily, there is some explosive action leading to a few more dead bodies; afterwards, however, the action quickly wanes.

Eventually, Lily returns to New York City. The rest of the novel appears to be the author's attempt to salvage a stagnant plot. She reintroduces one of the series' most beloved and interesting characters, Lily's gay best friend, photographer Jesse Robb; he adds much-needed humor to the novel considering that the emotionally depressed Lily is humorless. (She hasn't recovered from the murder of her sister, Claudia.) Jesse and Lily make a great sleuthing team; unfortunately, much of the novel focuses on Lily who is not leading character material. Her muscle-bound, tattooed love interest, NYPD Detective Bruxton (he's too butch to have a first name), is Lily's returning love interest. The author throws in an extremely minor character to be the villain who is still trying to kill Lily even after she's returned to New York City. Before reading Evil in All Its Disguises, it is highly recommended that The Damage Done be read first since many of its characters return in the third outing.

Evil in All Its Disguises is recommended for fans of Hilary Davidson's mystery series. (It definitely should not be read as a standalone novel.) I suggest that future installments focus on the sleuthing team of journalist Lily Moore and photographer Jesse Robb. Together, they can create award-winning exposes while solving grisly murders occurring in exotic locales. After all, Lilly is tired of the travel guide writing business. She is yearning for more adventure. However, she lacks humor and Jesse lacks seriousness. Together, they complement each other like salt and pepper and make a wonderful union. Once in a while, Bruxton can be thrown into the plot to provide Lily with a romantic distraction. Now, the author needs to find Jesse a love interest.

I am looking forward to reading Hilary Davidson's next novel, Blood Always Tells. A standalone, it is tentatively scheduled to be published in April 2014.

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