Jen's Reviews > Face of a Killer

Face of a Killer by Robin Burcell
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Dec 09, 08

bookshelves: female-author, favorites, police-fiction
Read in December, 2008

Sydney Fitzpatrick is a forensic artist for the FBI. On the twentieth anniversary of her father's death, she's called in to do a sketch of a rapist. When her suspect starts baring resemblance to a suspect in another rape case, Sydney is partnered up with Tony Carillo to investigate.

Meanwhile, Sydney decides it's time to confront her father's murderer who is awaiting execution at San Quentin. She simply wants to know why he killed her father, but instead she ends up having doubts that the man DID kill her father. Then when her father's old army buddy sends her an envelope before he commits suicide, things looks even more suspicious. Everything seems to be tied to a picture in the envelope. A picture of her father with several other men; a picture of a group of men who look sort of like...special forces.

I'm not sure I know exactly where to start with this review because I loved every aspect of this book. The characters were wonderfully developed. Their interactions together were absolutely smooth and completely believable at every level.

Sydney's ex comes in to town because he's on surveillance. He's surveying Sydney due to a hit the FBI believes has been put out on her. This obviously causes internal conflict for Sydney and tension between the two of them.

Sydney and Carillo cracked me up as partners. Imagine the most fun pairing of law enforcement officers from television or the movies; Sydney and Carillo match if not surpass any great combo! Their banter was so realistic and their personalities fit like Yin and Yang. And the best part about Sydney and Carillo? They DON'T jump in the sack together; don't even hint at doing anything like that. It is so refreshing to have a male/female team that doesn't end up in bed together!

Another refreshing element of this book - the law enforcement characters aren't swearing every other word. They are intelligent enough to carry on a conversation in which they can express themselves without excessive profanity. It's a beautiful thing.

The plot kept me glued to the pages in this book. I was in the dark about the outcome until the very end. And Burcell does an outstanding job of throwing in twists each time the reader thinks they have the mystery nailed. It is also a plot that keeps you guessing without throwing in some unknown factors right at the end. In addition the two subplots kind of weave in and out of each other leaving the reader wondering if they're connected or if it's just all a strange coincidence. The reader is challenged at every page turn in this book.

While the plot was very well constructed, I have to admit that the element of the book that hooked me right away was the authenticity. Or at least in my limited knowledge what I perceived to be authenticity. And, it's very subtle which makes it that much more powerful.

A final element about this novel I really enjoyed is Topper. Topper is a poodle that Carillo calls a sheep:

The endearing thing about Topper is not that he's a poodle; it's that his personality reminds me of my own dog. Very happy-go-lucky, likes to be around people, but if someone is not the "right people" Topper lets you know. If my dog growls about a person, I know something isn't right. I'm sure a lot of people who aren't "dog people" would find Topper unbelievable, but having experienced such a dog myself, I know Topper is realistic, and for me he added a lot to the dimension of the book.

I loved Face of a Killer. The humor, the three-dimensional characters, the authentic plot all make this an outstanding crime fiction novel. I'm looking forward to the next one!
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