Hilary Davidson came to my attention several times in one day. It started with one of my regulars coming into the store with an article about her. He had become a fan through her short stories and found out she wanted Austin to be a stop on her tour for her debut novel. When I got home that night, I was reading the Mullholland Press blog post by noir great Ken Bruen. He mentioned Hilary in a list of great new voices in crime fiction. It looked like I had to consider her. Before contacting her, I checked my facebook messages. One was from Hilary. My buddy Dennis Tafoya, author of the great novel Dope Thief, had told her to contact me. I immediately grabbed my copy of Thuglit‘s collection of hardcore, hardboiled fiction Blood, Guts, & Whiskey and read her beautiful and dark story “Son Of Many Tears”. She was in.
Unfortunately, while scheduling didn’t immediately work out then, I did become a fan and friend of Hilary’s. Hilary is one of those wonderful champions of the genre and her fellow writers. She’s one of those people we all look forward to seeing at conferences and whose blog posts we’re always up for reading.
Many got to know her through her short work. She appeared in online zines like Beat To A Pulp and Thuglit. One of them, “Insatiable”, won the Spine Tingler award. This story of a cuckolded rich husband getting even represented much of her work. It was a dark mix of hard boiled prose and twisted, but relatable, psychology. It also portrayed a chilling connection to sex and violence.
Hilary’s debut novel, The Damage Done, won her further respect as well as a pile of awards, including The Anthony. She introduced us to Lily Moore, a travel writer with a resemblance to Ava Gardner and an almost unhealthy love of classic film. To escape the pain of some things, she leaves her New York apartment to her drug addicted sister while he goes to Spain. She is called home with news that her sister was found dead in the apartment. The visit to the morgue proves it was not her sister, but a woman using her identity.
Lily starts looking for her sister throughout the city. We get a feel of Bloomberg New York, both its trendy and gritty sides. Hilary also has a great gift for tension, populating her quest with few people she can trust. A controlling rich ex she goes to for help may actually have a connection to her sister and the murder. Even the police seem to have their own agenda.
Hilary proves you can deliver a fresh voice without being stylized. Much of this comes in her to approach to character. She’s able to keep suspense and pace, while allowing her characters to breath and form fully. Much of her writing deals with her characters confronting their inner demons with the emotion and model coming from their triumph, defeat, or dark negotiations.
Her latest, The Next One To Fall, has Lily in Peru involved in a murder, a messed up family, and seemingly ripped from tabloid events. It proves that Davidson is here to stay. We mystery fans are the better for it.
Hilary Davidson will be here on February 18th at 4PM for a signing and discussion of The Next One To Fall.