Thursday, May 30, 2019

Book Review: "One Small Sacrifice" by Hilary Davidson

"Instinct's not a superpower. It's made of experience and memory and belief."

Alex Traynor was a famous photojournalist known for capturing pictures of some of the world's most brutal and haunting scenes of conflict and unrest. But after he was kidnapped, he began suffering from PTSD and turned to drugs to help quell the visions he seemed to see whether his eyes were open or closed.

At the end of his rope and high on drugs, he decided to kill himself. Yet at the end of the night, Cori Stanton—his friend and drug-dealer—was the one who wound up dead. Alex doesn't remember a thing about what happened, but while there certainly were signs that something suspicious might have happened to her, the police never were able to prove that Alex was responsible for her death, so it was ruled a suicide.

NYPD detective Sheryn Sterling has never stopped believing Alex killed Cori, and she's never taken her eye off him, despite warnings to the contrary. Even one year later, she's the Inspector Javert to Alex's Jean Valjean, waiting for the moment when she can sneak in and snag him.

When Alex's fiancée, Emily, a dedicated doctor, goes missing shortly after having a loud argument with Alex, Sterling is sure that he had something to do with Emily's disappearance. Alex's stories just don't seem to add up, or they have a lot of missing pieces, and Sterling knows all too well how much of a ticking time bomb a person with PTSD can be.

Alex doesn't understand what could have happened to Emily, but he can't understand why she'd leave him. Did she really think he was responsible for Cori's death and could no longer be with him? Was she being intimidated by someone else? Or was she somehow involved in some other scheme, and could that have put her in trouble? The problem is, Alex isn't sure where to turn to figure out the truth behind Emily's disappearance, since he knows the police don't trust him. How can a man with PTSD and a shaky memory find answers?

The more Sterling and her partner investigate Emily's disappearance, the more muddled things become. Could her instincts have been wrong all this time, or is Alex better at hiding his tracks than she thinks? And if Alex wasn't responsible for Cori's death and isn't responsible for Emily going missing, who was?

Hilary Davidson's One Small Sacrifice is a mystery full of twists and turns, as well as fascinating characters. At first I wasn't sure if I liked Sterling's character and what appeared to be her single-mindedness, but as the story picked up I realized there was more to her—and to many of the characters—than I initially suspected.

I don't know if anything in the book really surprised me, but I still really enjoyed the way Davidson teased out the plot, throwing out lots of information that complicated my ability to figure out what really happened.

This is apparently the start of a series (the second book is due out in 2020), and I'll definitely pick up the next book, as well as check out some of Davidson's earlier work, because she created a compelling story. There were a lot of interesting side-plots in the book which made the story even richer.

Thomas & Mercer and Amazon First Reads provided me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!

The book will be published June 1, 2019.

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