Evil In All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson is a suspenseful tour de force, but one would not expect less from the talented Anthony Award winning author. It is the third book featuring travel writer Lily Moore, after Davidson’s best-selling book, The Damage Done, which introduced the world to Moore and the second one, The Next One to Fall. Evil In All Its Disguises just might be Davidson’s best Lily Moore novel yet, with enough live-wire tension and creepy chills to rival Hitchcock or Stephen King.
Lily Moore is sent out on a press junket to Acapulco, thinking nothing of it and expecting that it will be a fun time in the sun and that she can enjoy a few margaritas. However, the Hotel Cerón is much different from what Lily Moore had anticipated. There is something sinister and rotten about the place, like the Overlook Hotel in King’s novel The Shining. However, the evilness behind the goings-on at the Hotel Cerón is not supernatural, but man-made.
Right from the very beginning of Evil In All Its Disguises, the author evokes an atmosphere of faded glamour and the sinister qualities of the Hotel Cerón confront her immediately when she sees a snake slithering near the reception desk. The clerk behind the desk turns pale when she describes what it looked like to him, as it is a poisonous one.
What is more, the pictures on the walls are of movie stars who appeared in black-and-white films, big stars in their heydays, many of them favorite actors and actresses of Lily Moore’s, like Ava Gardner, her idol and Elizabeth Taylor with one of her husbands, Mike Todd.
Lily likes the “retro atmosphere,” of the Hotel Cerón to an extent, but later she wonders, when she sees photos of Ava on the walls of her room, if things are just a bit too contrived. She has a feeling that everything seems to have been set up, especially when she learns that the Hotel Cerón is a part of a chain of hotels owned by her former boyfriend, Martin Sklar.
Martin Sklar had put out a hit on her sister, Claudia. She died of a heroin overdose before the hit could be carried through on. The hotel manager is Gavin Stroud, a good friend and business associate of Sklar’s.
When Lily accidentally pushes the wrong elevator button and almost gets off on the incorrect floor, she notices that the floor looks totally dark, as if only certain floors of the hotel have been opened for select guests to use. Lily does not want to jump to conclusions, but she feels a sense of foreboding building up inside of her.
Also, one of Lily’s friends, fellow travel writer Skye McDermott, who talks cryptically of having recently been ill and of wanting to get revenge on a former lover by writing an expose and exposing his evil deeds, mysteriously disappears, leaving behind scant evidence in her room. Skye leaves her purse behind at the hotel’s bar, with her passport in it. Lily wonders who the former lover is that Skye had referred to, thinking that it might have been her ex boyfriend, Martin Sklar.
Lily does not know where to turn to or who to trust. She attempts to arrange to go to another hotel and to get away from the Hotel Cerón, but her efforts prove to be futile. Skye’s dead body turns up, adding more to the dread and feeling of confinement that Lily is experiencing. The hotel is seeming to her to be more of a jail than a holiday resort where vacationers travel to in search of fun.
Author Hilary Davidson makes even the most sensational details in Evil In All of Its Disguises (Forge) seem to be realistic, probably because she has a background of having been, herself, a travel writer. The setting of the book becomes a supporting character, in its own right, as does the settings in Davidson’s previous Lily Moore novels. With Evil In All of Its Disguises, Davidson has written an elegant but gritty thriller that is a great addition to the Lily Moore series. Highly recommended to anyone who loves reading elegant and chilling thrillers!
Written By Douglas Cobb
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