Feature Book By Hilary Davidson

One Small Sacrifice

One Small Sacrifice



One Small Sacrifice by Hilary Davidson is a procedural mystery that will keep readers guessing until the very last chapter. Each thread of the detailed plot unveils one surprising revelation after another. With the compelling characters this story contrasts how good people can go astray with horrible people that have no conscience. 

 The early chapters set the pace for the rest of the book with war photographer Alex Traynor apparently getting away with murdering his good friend Cori Stanton. At least that’s what New York Police Detective Sheryn Sterling believes. Alex suffers from PTSD due to his harrowing work in war zones around the world. Unable to remember what happened the night Cori fell from a rooftop, it is believed he pushed her to her death. Yet, because of a lack of evidence, he was released. 

When Alex’s fiancée, Dr. Emily Teare, a talented and beloved local doctor, suddenly goes missing, Sheryn suspects Alex of misdeeds. Initially she was out to prove Traynor murdered again, but as the investigation into Emily’s disappearance deepens, Sheryn and her new partner find themselves going back over the previous case as well. It’s possible that there’s a darker story, and that Alex isn’t the only one with secrets.  Slowly she discards her tunnel vision and personal bias and starts relooking at the evidence that includes opioid addiction and illegal prescriptions.

It is also a love story between the two main characters Alex and Emily and how much they will sacrifice for each other. Alex, a photographer who made a name for himself taking pictures in war torn countries such as Iraq and Syria, witnessed multiple horrors.  While photographing the harrowing scenes, Alex was kidnapped in Syria. During the rescue operation by his army friend Maclean, Alex was shot in his leg. Taken to a medical center for treatment of his injuries he met Emily, a neurosurgeon who volunteers with Doctors Without Borders.  She removes the bullet from his leg, and their relationship builds from there into a romance that leads to their engagement.

What makes this a good thriller are the ingredients that Davidson puts into this story:  twists, turns, and surprises that make the novel really suspenseful. The story is so well crafted that it is difficult to know who is the guilty party. Is there a connection between the death of Stanton and the disappearance of Teare? Davidson drops details throughout the narrative that keeps the reader off balance, unsure, and on the edge of their seat.




About the Author Hilary Davidson

Amanda Flower

Before she was a crime novelist, Hilary Davidson was a journalist. She got her start as an intern at Harper’s Magazine in New York and then joined the staff of Canadian Living magazine in Toronto. After deciding that she’d rather write than edit, she left her day job to freelance full-time. That decision led her to write 18 nonfiction books (17 of them for Frommer’s Travel Guides) and articles for wide array of publications including Discover, Martha Stewart Weddings, American Archaeology, Fitness, Reader’s Digest, Chatelaine, and CNN Travel.

Hilary’s debut novel, The Damage Done, won the 2011 Anthony Award for Best First Novel, and the Crimespree Award for Best First Novel. It also launched the Lily Moore series that continued with The Next One to Fall and Evil in All Its Disguises. Hilary’s first standalone thriller, Blood Always Tells, was published by Tor/Forge in 2014. Her latest novel is One Small Sacrifice, the first book in the Shadows of New York series, published by Thomas & Mercer in June 2019. The next book in that series is Don’t Look Down; it will be released by Thomas & Mercer in February 2020.

Her short fiction has won the Anthony Award, the Derringer Award, and the Spinetingler Award. Hilary’s stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thuglit, Beat to a Pulp, Crimespree, All Due Respect, Crime Factory, Spinetingler, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir, and other dark places. Her work is featured in many anthologies, including Florida Happens (the 2018 Bouchercon collection), Passport to Murder (the 2017 Bouchercon collection), and At Home in the Dark, edited by Lawrence Block. In 2013, she gathered some of her personal favorites for a collection called The Black Widow Club: Nine Tales of Obsession and Murder.

Hilary has served as an At-Large Director on the National Board of the Mystery Writers of America from January 2012 to January 2016. She has previously served on the Mystery Writers of America’s New York Board as well.


An Interview with Hilary Davidson (Interviewer Elise Cooper)


Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?

Hilary Davidson: I first had an image of the characters in my mind, especially one character in particular that the was impacted by PTSD. I thought of books I loved with an unreliable narrator.  Because I experienced PTSD I was intrigued to find an interesting way to approach it with an unreliable narrator. 

EC: Can you discuss your experience?

HD: My first job, more than twenty years ago, straight out of college, had workplace violence.  A man tried to murder everyone in the office at the Veterans Government Department in Toronto.  There were people who were not getting enough help that included this one man in particular.  He was homeless with a mental illness that was not properly treated.  This person was very angry at their counselor and made death threats for months.  One day he came and started a massive fire that destroyed three floors of the office building.  It was a horrifying scene. 

EC: Did you get PTSD?

HD: Yes.  I became very scared and weeks later I got these disturbing feelings. I remember the beginning of the incident but do not remember how I got out of the office.  I actually received an award from the government for helping other people out.  There is this lost time in which I do not recall what exactly happened.  I had this weird fragmental memory and unforgettable feelings.  I incorporated this in the book with my main character Alex.  He is a war photographer who saw terrible things on the battlefields.  Now that he is back home and safe in New York he has feelings popping out but also has blackouts.

EC: It seems Detective Sheryn Sterling had tunnel vision regarding Alex’s guilt?

HD: This was my intention in the beginning.  Sheryn fell into the mindset to have the facts fit into her conception. She had it while on the hunt and when she had the suspect in her sight. I put in this book quote by Alex’s lawyer to show just that: “She’d going to shoehorn every shred of evidence to fit her theory and incriminate you.” I think that police work is sometimes like a scientist where they have a theory and go in that direction.   But I hope the readers saw she had a flexible enough mind where she could take in new information and reset her thinking.  Some have told me that they recognized that Sheryn grew and changed.  She broadens her perspective. 

EC: How would you describe Sheryn?

HD: Compassionate, honorable, flexible, brave, dedicated, and relentless.  She is molded by her family’s tradition of military service.  She is a tremendous advocate for the victims and is determined in the pursuit of justice. 

EC: How would you describe Emily?

HD: A big hearted person with a strong sense of responsibility towards others. Emily is an incredibly virtuous person who is not perfect.  She carries a sliver of darkness with shades of grey. She tries to do good in the world

EC: How would you describe Alex?

HD: He is the dark mirror of Emily.  A good person who wants to make a difference in the world.  For instance, he went into war photography because he wanted the world to know the true story of what goes on in a conflict.  He feels deeply but cannot articulate it into words but has his images, a witness of sorts. 

EC: It appears you made a reference to the Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur-who will live and who will die?

HD: You must be referring to the quote by Maclean who died while serving his country: “Not your turn today. It’s not about good or bad but if your number comes up.” I met a lot of people who have served in the military or on the police force.  They have a certain way of looking at the world.  As a writer, things come to mind in a sub-conscious sort of way.  Since my husband is Jewish I am familiar with that service. Writers who go out into the world will pick things up that will stay with them.  They come out at the strangest times.

EC: One theme of the book is sacrifice?

HD: Yes, the sacrifices people make for others.  I put in the beginning of the book a quote from an Easter poem written in 1916.  The idea is that too much had been sacrificed during the Irish Rebellion including too much blood shed.  It made me think when is a sacrifice too much.  In the book, there is also a darker sacrifice. An example in this story is how Alex sacrificed for his friend Will.  He feels such an obligation since Will’s mother took him in as a teenager.  She told him that Will now has a brother.  He feels it is his duty to protect Will even though the relationship is twisted.

EC: Can you give a heads up about your next book?

HD: It will be book two in the series with both detectives coming back, although a whole new case.  A female entrepreneur is being blackmailed.  At the beginning of the book she meets with that person.  The rest of the book delves into the fallout of it.  The title is Don’t Look Down and is out in early 2020.  







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