Mar 2 2013 10:30am

Fresh Meat: Evil In All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson

Evil in All Its Disguises by Hilary DavidsonEvil in All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson is the third Lily Moore mystery and is set in Acapulco (available March 5, 2013).

Lily Moore has just arrived at the Hotel Cerón in Acapulco on a press junket when one of her fellow journalists, Skye McDermott approaches her, wanting to talk. She’s traveled with Skye before and has always enjoyed her company, but Skye is obviously distraught and needs someone to confide in. After a conversation that confuses, more than enlightens Lily about Skye’s situation, Skye leaves the table to take a phone call, and never returns. Lily is puzzled, especially since Skye not only mentioned Lily’s ex-boyfriend, Martin Sklar, but she also left behind her bag containing her passport. Skye is nowhere to be found and Lily is at a loss. It also seems that the hotel manager, who is connected to Martin, and the person in charge of the press junket aren’t interested in finding Skye at all. Soon, she begins to notice some odd things about the Hotel Cerón, beginning with her own room.

The bedroom wasn’t as aggressively colorful as the living room, but it did boast a bedspread that was the same shade of red as a chili pepper. Lying against a pillow was a white envelope with Miss Lily Moore written in calligraphic style on the front.  As I reached for it, a champagne cork popped, making my head turn, and I noticed a framed photograph on the wall. It was a portrait of Ava Gardner. I stopped suddenly and stared, disconcerted. The other art I’d seen in the suite were bright paintings of Mexican landscapes; this black and white shot seemed very much out of place. I stared around the room, realizing that there was a shot of Ava with Frank Sinatra, and another that was a publicity still of Ava wearing a leopard-print bathing suit and posing on a leopard-skin rug. The presence of the shots didn’t feel accidental; it was hard to imagine that they weren’t deliberate choices made by someone who knew of my admiration for Ava Gardner.

There are other little details about the hotel that remind her of a bygone era, but with plenty of cracks showing through. After all, Acapulco was the destination of choice for the stars of Old Hollywood, especially in the 1950s, and although that Acapulco is long gone, some of the romantic optimism remains, even amid the recent cartel violence and crime. Yet, Lily can’t shake the impression that the hotel is hiding something sinister.

Sheltered in a grove of trees, I stared at the façade of the Hotel Cerón. The sky had turned several shades darker, and instead of sunlight warming the structure’s stark edges and angles, the gray veil of menacing weather made it more grim. It looked as if the life had been sucked out of the place and all that remained was a neat stack of hollow bones. It didn’t help that there wasn’t a soul moving around the hotel.

Upon continuing her tour of the hotel’s grounds, she encounters a series of bungalows that seem half finished and give off a distinctive “ghost town” impression.

The hotel’s windows were like a hundred black eyes on me; once my back was to them, I was filled with the heavy, unshakable sense of being watched. Stop being ridiculous, I told myself, looking around again. There’s no one there.

The pathway on the other side of the hotel was a short one, but it changed styles in the middle, so that the Cerón’s slippery stones were replaced by wide flagstones that made it easier to move forward. The path opened suddenly to a small clearing that was filled with the skeletal remains of three dozen small bungalows. No, not remains, I realized, taking in the scene; there were construction supplies and equipment littering the ground. The bungalows were still in the process of being built.

As Lily explores the bungalows, she soon finds herself confronted by a man holding a gun.

I was about to look into the next one when a hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled me back, off-balance. Turning my head, I saw a man who was about my height. His pie-round face and sparse scraps of beard made him look like a kid starting high school. But he was holding a gun and pointing it at my chest, and once I noticed this, his age didn’t matter.

Once she explains that she’s a guest at the hotel, the gunman—who seems to already know this—follows her back to the entrance. She can understand security over the construction site, but this confrontation only adds to her increasing uneasiness. The claustrophobic feeling of the hotel, coupled with the fact that Lily hasn’t really felt that well since she arrived, create the perfect atmosphere of paranoia. It doesn’t help that the behavior of some of her companions is strange, and at times, downright suspicious.

The feeling of tension gradually increases as Lily tries to get to the bottom of things and the build-up of suspense reminded me very much of some of Alfred Hitchcock’s work such as Dial M For Murder and even Rear Window. The author’s expert application of subtle menace creates a delicious, and at times disconcerting, palette for mystery. Add to that a capable, yet still vulnerable, heroine to root for in Lily Moore, and you’ve got a novel you can sink your teeth into with considerable relish. The devil is in the details in Evil In All Its Disguises, and I should probably warn you, losing sleep in order to finish this one is almost a certainty.

This sweepstakes has ended. Check out our Sweepstakes feature  for current opportunities!

To enter for a chance to win a copy of Evil in All Its Disguises by Hilary Davidson, make sure you’re a registered member of the site, sign in, and then simply leave a comment below.

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) March 2, 2013. Sweepstakes ends at 9:29 a.m. ET on March 9, 2013 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

Kristin Centorcelli reviews books at, loves a good mystery, and is a huge fan of boxed wine. You can also follow her at @mybookishways.

Read all Kristin Centorcelli’s posts for Criminal Element.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
Norma Johnson
4. Auburn58
Wow, this sounds like my kind of book. I am soo excited about this web site that I just recently discovered.

Please enter me for a chance to win. Thanks and happy writing.
Anne Joyce
5. ajoyim
This book looks like a great read.... fingers crossed!
6. SummerG
Looks great. Would love to read.
Jeffrey Tretin
9. jtretin
Sounds great. I would love to read it.
10. maryc
I would not want to be a guest at Hotel Ceron but would love to read the book.
Tina Myers
12. teena
Looks like a really good read..Thanks!
Johannah Brookwell
13. Johannah
So far, so good. Absolutely love a great mystery!
Judie McDonald
16. Judiemcd
Travel and mystery--what could be better!
17. Linda K.
Sounds great!
Clydia DeFreese
20. clydia
This is the only way I'll get to Acapulco! Lead me to it...
Vernon Luckert
21. vl4095
Really interested in getting to read this one!
Joyce Mitchell
22. JoyceLm
I haven't read this author before - will have to look for her books. Thanks.
Deborah Blanchard
25. bookworm1954
This looks like a great story. I love mysteries/crime of almost any kind. Please enter me for a chance to win this book. I was just sent this email about this site and it looks very appealing. Can't wait to find out more about it! I am an avid reader, am a member of Goodreads and Library Thing. so I love to read and review books! Can't wait for this one!
27. aquariusmoon5
My spine is tingling...would love to read this book! I'm keeping my fingers and toes crossed.
Pam Howell
28. phowell13
Looking forward to reading this. Thanks.
Patricia Nicklas
29. pmernick
Sounds as though losing sleep over this one would be worth it!
Melissa Darwin
31. turboterp
This book sounds like the perfect vacation read! Can't wait to check it out.
susan beamon
32. susanbeamon
Lots of atmospheric details, making a delicious sounding mystery. I'd like to have it.
Sandie White
34. Sandie
Okay, so now I'm totally obsessed with wanting to read all of these books listed...any suggestions on where to start?
Connie Schultz
36. mamacat509
It looks like a fun mystery. I like the descriptions of the windows and buildings.
Regina Silverstein
37. ReillyS
Sounds intriguing. Would love to read it.
Andrew Kuligowski
39. KuligowskiAndrew
So far, I have not been lucky enough to visit Mexico. (Although I've seen it in the distance from Organ Pipe national Momument.) I let people like Hilary Davidson take me there via their writings. Thanks for offering the giveaway.
41. Sherrie
This sounds like a very interesting book from an author I have not tried - Thank you for a chance to win a copy and read it.
Ginny Horton
42. oregongin
Although I've been to Mexico twice it was to resort areas only so I'd love to learn more coupled with a great mystery, my favorite genre.
Lisa Garrett
43. lag123
Oh I want to know more about this hotel!
Jane Squires
45. squiresj
I would love to be entered to win this book and review it. It sounds interesting.
Wanda hardee
46. wanda909
I haven't read this author before, but its already got me hooked
Bruce Hamilton
47. deerwalker
Another great book to add to my read list. I really need to learn how to build bookshelves.
Benno Kiewe
48. vball01
Sounds very interesting. Time to give it a try
Pat Murphy
50. murphyp2011
Sounds like it would be entertaining and suspenseful. Need a copy for my personal library
Shaunterria Owens
51. shaunterria
I am willing to lose sleep over this one :)
52. Patrice
Loved other Lily Moore titles. Would love to read this one.
Patrice Gottfried
53. pkg427
Loved other Lily Moore titles. Would love to read this one.
Cindi Hoppes
54. CindiHoppes
I like how this book begins with the two friends and then the suspense begins!
Many thanks, Cindi
Allison Moyer
55. The Loopy Librarian
Creepy hotel, Acapulco, sinister suspicious people, paranoia, mystery....sounds like an all-nighter!
Jeffrey Malis
56. bravejam
A nuanced travel mystery with shades of Hitchcockian suspense? I'm intrigued! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!
58. mosaix
Corruption, breakups and free trips. Yes!
Jackie Wisherd
59. JackieW
Enjoyed reading about this book. I know I would enjoy reading it. I've found a new author.
Sharon Shumway
62. Shellen
I am hooked. This is my kind of mystery.
Brenda Tucker
63. rango3
I enjoyed reading about this book. It sounds super.
Joshua Atkins
64. atkinsj
I've been looking forward to this book for a while. Congratulations on the release Hilary!
Anne Muller
66. anne38
I love to travel so this sounds like a series that would combine that interest with my enjoyment of mysteries.
Anne Muller
67. anne38
I love to travel so this sounds like a series that would combine that interest with my enjoyment of mysteries.
Judith Barnes
I'm ready to visit Acapulco with Lily Moore. Please send me a copy of "Evil in All Its Disguises."
Rosa Abraham
70. ravensfan
Looks like a great read. Would love to win a copy!
Mary Ann Woods
71. puttputt1198eve
Thanks for letting me read so much of it! Now I have to finish.
72. jimbo
Thanks for this opportunity; would love to read the book and pass along the good word to other educators and readers across Western Ma and regionally
peg nittskoff
Love this type of book and you are a new author for me. Would love to win this book and find out more on both levels.
Marguerite Beal
Like the shadow of the bygone era in the book. Thanks
Bob Alexander
77. rx_alex
This sounds like a good story. I know I'd enjoy it.
lynette barfield
83. lynette
This a new author for me. Would like a copy.
Melissa Keith
84. melly801
I am a Hitchcock fan so I know I'd enjoy Evil in All Its Disguises. LET ME LOSE SLEEP!! ALL I WANT TO DO IS READ...THIS BOOK!
Karen Hester
85. rosalba
A new author for me - sounds promising.
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