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Damage Control: A Novel [Hardcover]

Denise Hamilton

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Book Description

Sept. 6 2011
Critically acclaimed author Denise Hamilton weaves an engrossing story of teenage friendship and adult betrayal, featuring a high-powered crisis consultant who gets swept up in murder and scandal involving a wealthy political family.

Maggie Silver is solidly middle class, with a mortgage to pay and an ill mother to support. She is doing her best to scramble up the ladder at an elite PR firm in Southern California whose clients include movie stars and famous athletes. Now, Maggie tackles her toughest client yet: Senator Henry Paxton, a distinguished statesman who also happens to be the father of Anabelle, Maggie’s estranged best friend from high school.

Senator Paxton’s young female aide has been found murdered, and Maggie must run damage control to prevent the scandal from growing. Thrown back into the Paxtons’ glamorous world, Maggie is unexpectedly flooded with memories from the stormy years in high school when her friendship with Anabelle was dramatically severed after a tragedy that neither of them has been able to forget. As Maggie gets further embroiled in the lives of the Paxtons, she realizes that the ties of her old friendship are stronger than she thinks.

Riveting and suspense-filled, Damage Control examines our craving for celebrity and spectacle, and how far the bonds of friendship can stretch before they break forever.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner (Sept. 6 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743296745
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743296748
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16 x 3.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #589,456 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"A riveting stand-alone thriller. . . . In a novel that marries celebrity culture, surf noir and the bonds of friendship, Hamilton is at the top of her game."--Kirkus

“Denise Hamilton scores her largest and greatest triumph: Damage Control is a great mystery, and, much more rarely, a superb psychological thriller. Kudos to this brilliant talent.”--James Ellroy

"You can't beat L.A.-based noir for moodiness, and no one writes it better than Denise Hamilton."--USA Today

"Hamilton has constructed an intricate and finely-balanced thriller that joins all the flavors and worlds of southern California into a heady cocktail of sex, celebrity, and consequence."--BN.com

"A tale about unbridled ambition, friendship and betrayal... A welcome return."--Oline Cogdill, Associated Press

“You can’t beat LA-based noir for moodiness, and no one writes it better than Denise Hamilton.”—USA Today

“The mystery Hamilton conjures is convincing, and she has a fine and accurate eye for how privileged Anglenos live. But it’s her ability to pull the curtain back on the often-opaque world of crisis management that will stay with you long after the novel is finished.” –NPR.org

“A tale about unbridled ambitioin, friendship, and betrayal….Realistic characters live in Hamilton’s L.A., where the division between the haves and the have-nots can be immense. . . . A welcome return.”—Sun-Sentinel

About the Author

Denise Hamilton is a writer-journalist whose work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Cosmopolitan, and The New York Times and is the author of five acclaimed Eve Diamond crime novels, Prisoner of Memory, Savage Garden, Last Lullaby, Sugar Skull, and The Jasmine Trade, all of which have been Los Angeles Times bestsellers. She is also the editor of and a contributor to the short story anthology Los Angeles Noir, winner of the Southern California Independent Booksellers Association Award for Best Mystery of 2007. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two young children. Visit her at www.denisehamilton.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  84 reviews
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathless Pace, likable characters. Aug. 31 2011
By Lil Gluckstern - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Hamilton drew me in with her first page, and I was carried along to the end. Maggie Silver works for a high powered PR firm and is assigned to protect the image of a politically ambitious Senator whose pretty young aide is found murdered. The Senator is the father of an old friend, and this becomes an emotional conflict for Maggie as she tries to do her job and is caught in the convoluted machinations of her firm. Much more is going on here than meets the eye and the pace never falters, even as Hamilton switches time frames to explain how things got to be so difficult for Maggie and her friend. I did not want to put the book down, and my cynicism with the world today made the book believable. The characters are human and believable, and I look forward to reading more of Denise Hamilton's books.
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorite books of the year Sept. 17 2011
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I had never heard of Denise Hamilton before but thought the inside cover sounded interesting. I am so glad that I picked up this book. Denise writes with such fluidity- her descriptions are vivid without being too wordy. She crafted an amazing mystery full of twists and turns. Maggie, the main character works for a PR firm that deals with all the glitz and glamor and dark deadends of Hollywood life. When the senator's aide is murdered, she is assigned the case, despite her long history with the Senator's family. His daughter was Maggie's best friend during high school - a friendship that ended from a tragedy that Denise feeds to us bit by bit throughout the novel. This book keeps you guessing- trying to figure out who the good and bad guys are until the last page. A satisfying read from the first page to the last.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars disjointed Dec 26 2011
By book lover - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I started this book once, got about a third of the way through and gave up. The author used too many proper nouns (names of places, shows, brands etc) and I found that distracting. Sometimes two or three in one paragraph. There was nothing to interest me in the character or the situation. Then I got desperate for a book, so I tried again several weeks later. I did ultimately find something to interest me enough to keep going (Anabelle Paxton, friend of Maggie's), but then the last third of the book seemed all over the map. I found the dialogue and the main character, Maggie, too glib and flat to interest me. There are too many guys she was interested in and none of them seemed at all believable to me. She's supposed to be suspicious of those around her and not know who to trust, yet she acts totally naive. I've read other books by this author so I might try one again down the road, but if I'd read only this one, I'd never pick up another book of hers.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Recommended (with reservations) Nov. 26 2011
By JustMelissa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Maggie Silver is new to a high-powered LA PR firm. It's her job to manage the public messaging for clients when they find themselves embroiled in scandal. Her latest assignment hits closer to home that most. Henry Paxton, a senator from California, needs help controlling the media frenzy surrounding the murder of a young aide who worked in his office. Only after being assigned his case does Maggie realize the senator is the father of a close childhood friend - one with whom she had a falling out following a shared tragedy from their teenage years.

This stand alone book from Denise Hamilton is quick paced and suspenseful. As usual, Ms. Hamilton does a great job of presenting life in Los Angeles; in this case, both in contemporary and early 1990's settings. She also gives us a glimpse of what it's like to work in PR, especially with clients who live in the public eye. For me, the ending wasn't completely surprising, though I didn't figure out the specifics of the mystery. Although I enjoyed the book overall, there were a few weaknesses I couldn't overlook. I found it hard to believe that someone working in PR in LA wouldn't know who the senior senator from CA is. Although I know there are plenty of people who don't follow politics, Maggie's job is to be connected to current events. And, the entire subplot around perfume was odd. The dialog around perfume in the book felt forced and unnecessary. Though it does ultimately tie into the plot, the sections about perfume felt like asides from the author not thoughts of the character.

Bottom line: Recommended to fans Ms. Hamilton, location-based mysteries, or perfumistas.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Scents of Memory Sept. 13 2011
By Marlyn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Maggie Silver's profession is damage control. She gets paid to clean up, or hide messes made by famous people. When we meet Maggie she's on her way to the home of an actor who has been accused of sexual assault by his children's nanny. Maggie's job is to spin the incident to make the nanny seem dishonest and mercenary in order to take the appearance of transgression away from the actor.

Before she has a chance to do much, however, her manager calls to tell her they have an even more important client back at the office. When she gets there, she's surprised to see someone she once knew very well: the father of her high school best friend, now a respected Senator.

When Maggie realizes what she is expected to do, she briefly considers resigning, but she knows she can't. She has a mortgage to pay and a cancer-survivor mother to support, and so she must recall of the unpleasantness that ended her friendship with Anabelle Paxton.

It takes some time before Maggie allows herself (and the reader) into the place where those memories are hidden. The gradual revelation of those memories begins with smells: sand and salt water, barbecue-flavored potato chips, patchouli. It's already been made clear that the olfactory sense is very significant to Maggie. In the first chapter of the book Maggie describes dabbing her wrists with perfume just before meeting a client:

"...clean, crisp notes of citrus, bergamot and verbena. Nothing cloying or clobbering...Just a subtle scent amulet to infuse me with secret grace and power."

Ms. Hamilton skilfully describes Maggie's reactions to sights, sounds, and smells to increase the already strong empathy the reader has with her through the first-person point of view. We become so attuned to Maggie's senses and emotions that we can almost feel the heat of the sun on her arms, the dizziness caused by watching a record spinning on a turntable.

This is one of those books that (as I probably say too often) you will want to read slowly and savor, yet at the same time rush through to learn what happens. And what happens does not disappoint, save to signal the end of our time with Maggie.

*FTC Full Disclosure: Many thanks to the publisher, who sent me an e-galley of the book for review purposes.
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