Reviewed by JD Jung
“Does the past ever really go away?…Or does it remain inside us, hidden under calluses of age and experiences but still affecting everything we do the rest of our lives?”
Thirty-two-year-old Maggie Silver works tirelessly for the Blair Company, a prominent Los Angeles PR firm, specializing in “crisis management”. The Adderall-popping Maggie strives to prove herself to the company though she has never been able to manage the crises in her own life. Now her work schedule precludes her from even having a personal life, other than going home to her sick mother who now lives with her.
Maggie is called upon to provide damage control to a local U. S. senator, Henry Paxton, whose young female assistant was found murdered. Maggie realizes that she knew Henry long before he was in politics. In fact, she spent many a day at his home with his family, as he was the father of her best teenage friend, Anabelle. She and Annabelle haven’t spoken in years and working on this assignment brings back painful memories, unanswered questions and even some guilt.
There’s more to it though-the actual job. It’s difficult enough when the client whose reputation she’s trying to preserve isn’t completely honest with her, but when the truth can’t be discerned at any level, then Maggie really has to worry. Yes, she must know the facts in order to manipulate or react to the media, but she realizes that ignorance will put her in personal danger. I’m not just referring to the client withholding vital information, but her associates at the firm, as well. In other words, she learns that she can’t trust anyone.
As I started reading Damage Control , I thought, “been there, read that”. Are we going to revisit the tragic Gary Condit scandal or another sordid John Edwards/Andrew Young/ Rielle Hunter affair? Well, Hamilton fools us all; this is anything but. Damage Control is a quick-paced novel that will keep you in suspense until the very end. How far will a PR firm go to protect the reputation of their clients? Does protection go to the highest bidder?
Hamilton seamlessly shifts back and forth from Maggie’s teenage years to the present day without bogging down the novel. More importantly it all proves relevant to the story as well as Maggie’s current state of mind. The author describes the Los Angeles area in vivid detail, evoking all of the senses, from the hypnotic ocean waves to Maggie’s perfume-which buy the way, has always been her obsession.
Damage Control takes the classic thriller to a fresh, new level- a must-read for the contemporary mystery lover.