Saturday, June 1, 2019

"One Small Sacrifice"

Hilary Davidson’s debut novel, The Damage Done, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and the Crimespree Award for Best First Novel. The second book in the series is The Next One to Fall and the third is Evil in All Its Disguises. Davidson’s first standalone novel, Blood Always Tells, was published by Tor/Forge in April 2014.

She applied the Page 69 Test to her new novel, One Small Sacrifice—the first book in a new series—and reported the following:
From page 69:
“This Diana person you met… is there any way you can track her down?”

“I can try. You think she’s important?”

CJ shot him a curious sidelong look. “Emily takes off and a couple days later you’ve got a strange woman in your apartment who claims Emily gave her a key?” He shook his head. “I’m not going to pretend I know what’s going on, but there’s no way I’d write that off as a coincidence.”

Alex opened his mouth to answer, but there was a screech of tires from Second Avenue and the sound of metal crunching against metal. A woman screamed. Every synapse in Alex’s brain was suddenly on fire, all of them transmitting the same message: run. He grabbed CJ’s arm and pulled him off the flagstone and behind a tree.

“What are you doing?” CJ asked, clearly confused.

Alex froze, suddenly remembering where he was: not a war zone, just noisy midtown. “Are you okay?”

“Yes, except for you trying to dislocated my shoulder.”

Alex let go immediately. “I’m sorry.”

There was a siren in the distance. “That sounded like a car accident on Second Avenue,” CJ said. “What did you think it was?”

“I don’t know.” Alex could feel his face flush red. What the hell was wrong with him? Frist the snap’n pops had thrown him into a fugue state; now the sound of a fender bender was shooting him straight into a panic.

“Be honest with me,” CJ said. “Are you having PTSD episodes again?”
It’s interesting how well this scene captures what’s happening in the book. Alex Traynor is a war photographer; his fiancée, Emily Teare, is a doctor who vanished a couple of days earlier. Alex didn’t know Emily was breaking up with him until he found a note in their apartment telling him that it was over. Alex can’t understand what’s happened, and he turns to Emily’s closest friend, CJ Leeward, for answers. CJ can’t provide clarity, but his perspective helps Alex start to question some of the strange events that precipitated—and followed—Emily’s disappearance. CJ is the first person that he tells about a woman who let himself into his apartment with a key she claimed Emily had given her. Alex is certain that woman was lying to him, but he has no idea who she really is or what she wants.

Complicating matters is the fact that Alex suffers from PTSD from his time working in war zones. He’s haunted by memories of people he saw killed in Syria, as well as the death of his close friend Cori Stanton, who fell from the roof of Alex’s building in Hell’s Kitchen a year before One Small Sacrifice begins. The NYPD investigated the matter, but didn’t find enough evidence to indict Alex; however, one of the investigating detectives believes that Alex got away with murder, and when Emily vanishes, the NYPD’s reaction is swift and intense. Alex had believed his PTSD was under control until the past few days; the fact that it’s resurfaced with a vengeance terrifies him.
Learn more about the book and the author at the official Hilary Davidson site.

The Page 69 Test: The Damage Done.

The Page 69 Test: Blood Always Tells.

--Marshal Zeringue