Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Face of a Killer (Sydney Fitzpatrick #1)” as Want to Read:
Face of a Killer (Sydney Fitzpatrick #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Face of a Killer (Sydney Fitzpatrick #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  476 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
Facts lie . . . Two decades after the murder that shattered her world, FBI agent and forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick confronts her father's killer face to face. But the inmate who's scheduled to be executed for the crime is not what she expected. Heightening Sydney's unease, she receives a photograph sent to her by a man just prior to his suicide, causing her to questio ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published November 25th 2008 by Harper (first published October 1st 2008)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Face of a Killer, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Face of a Killer

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
Rating details
Sort: Default
Oct 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Carol Hunter
Apr 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
I met Robin Burcell when she spoke as a woman mystery writer during the Leesburg Library Book Festival this year. Aa an FBi trained forensic artist, and a skilled law enforcement officer, she brings authenticity and depth to her writing. When I listened to her on a panel of other women authors I was so impressed with her humor and intelligence.
This book drew me in and kept me reading through the night. I have already ordered another in this series for my Nook.
Oct 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
I bought a copy of Face of a Killer at the Great Valley Book fest recently. I didn't know anything about Robin Burcell at the time, but she was there showcasing her book and speaking about her interesting law enforcement background. She was friendly, knowledgeable, hilarious, and made her book sound like a must read. So of course I had to get a copy.

Needless to say I was not disappointed with Face of a Killer. From the very first chapter I was drawn into the world of FBI Agent Sydney Fitzpatric
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a first in a new series by Robin Burcell. It features Sydney Fitzpatrick, an FBI agent and forensic artist. Burcell herself is a forensic artist and was a police officer for many years in California. All in all I really enjoyed the book. There is a very good and interesting story line, and I felt connected to and enjoyed spending time with Sydney and the entire cast. It dragged a bit in parts. Burcell also writes a series about Kate Gillespie, and I enjoyed that series greatly.
If you like government conspiracies, then this would be the book for you. Unfortunately, I am not a fan. I would have preferred if the book stayed with the current and local crimes that Sydney was investigating. 3 stars
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
A totally enjoyable book that I did not want to put down. The characters were great and the plot was outstanding. If I have any complaint it was that the romantic plot did not develop the way I wished.
Sue Coletta
Oct 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing, strong characters, fascinating sub-plot...this book has it all. Highly recommend.
Apr 27, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thriller
I've known Robin Burcell virtually for many years. I didn't actually meet her in person until Left Coast Crime in Hawai'i in March, at which I was pleased to obtain a signed copy of her latest book, Face of a Killer .

I have read her previous books, featuring SFPD Homicide Investigator Kate Gillespie. The latest book is not part of the series, although the protagonist, FBI agent Sydney Fitzpatrick, does mention knowing Kate.

Sydney has recently transferred to San Francisco, partially with the ult
Jan 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
A new author to me and one that was actually on the police force as a forensic artist, so she writes with 30 years experience in that field.

A different main character - FBI Agent Sydney Fitzpatrick - she's a forensic artist and is good at that aspect of her job. Sydney is a likeable, naive character who matures fairly quickly in this book.

This first book deals with building her background to present day and how the first case comes to be. Bullets are flying, stuff is getting blown up, boat chase
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Goodread's description covers the basics. What it doesn't capture is the suspense, the let-me-read-one-more-chapter-before-I-turn-out-the-light pacing that keeps you going relentlessly. Burcell's many years' experience as an agent and a cop give her the knowledge to translate into fine fictional realism, and her sleuth - Sydney Fitzpatrick - is warm and likeable and matures as you watch her work her way to multiple solutions and wrestle with demons. I met the author at a book festival in Mount D ...more
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very good book. FBI Agent Sydney Fitzpatrick is forensic artist who follows the rules, until one day she learns she can get more results if she bends the rules. A very fast paced thriller that kept very intrigued through the entire book. Love this character and I guarantee I will be reading all the books in this series.
Eileen Rendahl
Feb 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
Robin Burcell knows her police and FBI procedure and it shows in every page of this book. It as a highly complicated plot and the pace never lets up for an instant. It ended in a way that makes me think that it's the first of a series. I certainly hope so. I'll look forward to the next one.
Jan 23, 2009 rated it liked it
This book was not bad, I think much better at the beginning than the end where they throw in a bunch of details just to wrap it up...I really hate that!! But overall it's a decent govt. agency/human drama/suspense.
Jul 19, 2013 rated it liked it
Sydney gets caught up in a government coverup from decades past. It's personal since her fathers murder may have been part of this. She and her partner meanwhile are trying to catch a rapist/murderer.
Nov 30, 2008 added it
Really enjoyed this new series
Conni Harness
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WOW, extreme "thrill ride" read. This author is definitely on the top of my most favorite mystery authors. And there more to come, also my favorite kind of author. And there was a tiny, very brief mention of Kate Gillespie, (her other series character). Very cool!!!
Aug 02, 2010 rated it liked it
Plot Summary: FBI forensic artist Sydney Fitzpatrick questions the guilt of the man about to be executed for her father’s murder twenty years earlier. The first stirrings of doubt occur when one of her forensic sketches on an unrelated case brings forth memories about her father’s homicide that she’d hoped to forget. A mysterious envelope arrives in the mail on the anniversary of her father’s death. She opens the packet and discovers a blackmail letter written by her father, an old photo of his ...more
Kat Jones
Jul 18, 2015 rated it liked it
Overall, not bad. There was a lot of drama and intrigue, but what do you expect from a crime/murder mystery. I enjoyed the action and th banter between Sydney and Carillo was amusing. However, the annoying mom and step dad knocked it down a few pegs for me. I get they're doing the parent thing, and looking out for their youngest, but they came off as selfish assholes angry that their little princess wasn't an only child and got reminders that there are paths other than the ones chosen by daddy d ...more
Carl Brookins
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is an outstanding novel, smoothly, dynamically written, and rooted in recent and scary history in the United States. Because the novelist is writing about her own life in law enforcement—she’s an FBI trained forensic artist—the emotional level evoked is high. Burcell has written other crime novels and her experience shows. But this is obviously an environment close to her psyche.

FBI agent Sydney Fitzpatrick is a forensic artist, often required to sit with victims of some of the most horrifi
Jan 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: myst-thrill
I'm generally wary when the first book of a series introduces a mystery that directly involves the main character or her family. But in the case of this book it seemed to work okay. Perhaps because Burcell intertwined quite a good solid mystery as a secondary story with the main one of Sydney Fitzpatrick, who's looking into the man who is in jail on death row for killing her father.

Sydney is a special agent of the FBI. She is a forensic artist who does sketches of people, either unidentified vic
Face of a Killer by Robin Burcell is the first book of the Sydney Fitzpatrick FBI thriller series set in contemporary San Francisco. Sydney works for the FBI as a forensic artist. She interviews victims to create sketches of their attackers, or if a corpse cannot be easily identified, she recreates a sketch of the face from physical measurements. Sydney feels her sketches can include more subtle shading, more hints to personality, than a forensic sculptor provides.

Twenty years ago, Sydney's fat
Barbara M
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Robin Burcell has created a very likable character in Sydney Fitzpatrick. Sydney is an FBI agent, a forensic artist, who works in San Francisco near her mother, step-father, and young half-sister. Sydney's father was murdered during a robbery when she was a young girl. That was 20 years ago and the murderer is about to be executed. Against her mother's wishes, Sydney wants to go to the prison and see him - ask him why. That starts the ball rolling to the unraveling of a number of secrets that ha ...more
Oct 04, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime-mysteries
I liked that this book was set in SF, since that's where I live. This is the first in a new series about an FBI agent. In this book, she tries to solve her father's death 20 yrs ago, and gets caught into a consipracy web. It was good. But not great. I think I've been reading some very good police mystery type books lately, and so this one just paled in comparison. There was nothing bad about it, it just didn’t have that 'grab me' factor..the characters and the plot didn’t pull me in. I finished ...more
Henri Moreaux
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
This is my first Robin Burcell novel and I have to say I'm impressed, a real page turner.

The protagonist of the story is Sydney Fitzpatrick an FBI agent/sketch artist whose father was murdered 20 years ago - enter the prisoner soon to be executed and the father's colleague who commits suicide after sending a mystery letter to Sydney.

The plot & subplots were excellent and all tied in nicely, the writing is gripping and there were no holes in the story to jar your enjoyment, overall just a ve
Pam I.
Jan 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
The political corruption and intrigue kept me reading. I especially found the clandestine aspects believable, and was fascinated by the authors notes about the real events that spawned this bit of fiction. Too many characters to have much character development, but I feel drawn to Sydney Fitzpatrick and think she can be further developed. As for the men, I much preferred her partner over her former lover, who was a total turn off for me. Guess I'll expect further development as the series unfold ...more
Sep 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
Ok, I have to admit up front that I only read the first 100 pages and the last 100 pages of this. However, if it hadn't been due back at the library (already renewed to its limit, see review for Judgement Calls), I would have read the whole thing. I was able to get into it and was very interested in the outcome. I feel the 4 star rating is legitimate, based on what I read, and my attraction to the book.
Nov 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Suspensefull page-turner, nice twists, although some a little too much, too far out.
Also the chemistry between her ex and Sydney was way too much, I could have done without it.
For me, she would be better of without him (as usual for me, prefering the single strong female).
Except for that, very good characters and descriptions.
It will be interesting to see how this develops in the next book, which I will certainly read.
Highly recommended.
Aug 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
I would give Face of a Killer 3.5 starts if I could. Burcell's fifth book but the first in her new Sydney Fitzpatrick series. Lots of good depth, good characters and a good story.

It helps that Burcell spent 20 years in law enforcement, part of that in the FBI. The title was a bit of a turn off for me though.

Intrique, lies and deceptions, makes me glad I stayed a civilian and didn't entertain ideas of federal employment.
Nov 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
This is a DNF for me. I am not in the mood for decades old, unjustly jailed, now who is the real killer and why. Or maybe I'm just not in the mood for a thriller, I've been reading mostly cozy or traditional and seem to be happiest with those.

This was well written and while I was reading it, it kept my attention, but I just can't seem to force myself to pick it back up - always a bad sign. I may try this again later but for right now I'm just not willing to spend time there. Sigh.
Sheila Beaumont
Apr 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This exciting, complex mystery is a real page turner. Its likable, intelligent heroine, Sydney Fitzpatrick, is an FBI agent and forensic artist, something the author knows about, as Ms. Burcell is an FBI-trained forensic artist herself. I really enjoyed this book and strongly recommend it to fans of fast-paced, action-packed suspense fiction.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: #5 Face of a Killer (Sydney Fitzpatrick #1) 1 3 Jan 08, 2014 05:35AM  
  • Kill Zone (Lucy Guardino FBI Thriller #3)
  • Heart of Ice (Triple Threat, #3)
  • Boneyard (Kelly Jones Mysteries, #2)
  • The Card Counter
  • Deadly Dance (A-Tac, #5)
  • Columbus (Silver Bear, #2)
  • Amanda's Eyes (A.J. Gregson)
  • King City
  • The Sixth Sense (Brier Hospital, #3)
  • Murder Is A Bad Day To Have A Baby
  • Cry of the Needle
  • Betrayed
  • Twisted Justice
  • Dream On (Mark Appleton Thrillers #2)
  • Blood Dahlia (Sarah King Mysteries #1)
  • Resuscitation (Sami Rizzo #2)
  • The Collected (Jonathan Quinn, #6)
  • We Hold These Truths

Other Books in the Series

Sydney Fitzpatrick (5 books)
  • The Bone Chamber (Sydney Fitzpatrick #2)
  • The Dark Hour (Sydney Fitzpatrick #3)
  • The Black List (Sydney Fitzpatrick, #4)
  • The Kill Order  (Sydney Fitzpatrick #5)

Mystery & Thrillers Deals

  • Fractured
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Never Smile at Strangers
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Furious (Faith McMann Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $2
  • Where Eagles Dare
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Alone
    $17.99 $2.99
  • Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes, #2)
    $11.99 $2.99
  • Period 8
    $6.74 $0.99
  • The Guns of Navarone
    $5.99 $2.99
  • Idaho
    $12.99 $1.99
  • Dead Letters
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Phantom (Alexander Hawke, #7)
    $8.99 $1.99
  • Working Fire
    $3.99 $2.00
  • The Barkeep
    $4.49 $1.99
  • Blur  (Blur Trilogy #1)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Her Last Day (Jessie Cole, #1)
    $3.99 $2.00
  • Moving Day
    $4.99 $1.99
  • Man-Eater: The Life and Legend of an American Cannibal
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Smoke
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Unrivaled (Beautiful Idols #1)
    $2.99 $0.99
  • Secrets of Southern Girls: A Novel
    $15.99 $1.99
  • Dorchester Terrace (Charlotte & Thomas Pitt, #27)
    $11.99 $1.99
  • Flower Net (Red Princess, #1)
    $7.99 $1.99
  • The Grave Tender
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Ugly Young Thing (Strangers #2)
    $3.99 $1.99
  • Before I Go to Sleep
    $8.24 $2.99
  • When You Reach Me
    $7.99 $1.99
  • Pretty Little Things
    $4.49 $1.99