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Face of a Killer    by Robin Burcell Amazon.com order for
Face of a Killer
by Robin Burcell
Order:  USA  Can
Poisoned Pen, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

Face of a Killer is the first in a new series by Robin Burcell, author of the award-winning novels starring SFPD Homicide Inspector Kate Gillespie. I predict this new venture will win a few awards also. FBI Special Agent Sydney Fitzpatrick, thirteen at the time, remembers the night twenty years ago when her father was murdered. His killer is scheduled to be executed and Sydney feels she must talk to him face to face and ask why he did it. The man convinces her he did not murder anyone. But he knows he's dying to cover a white man's crime.

Burcell is a trained forensic artist as is her protagonist. When Sydney uses her skills to render a likeness of the man who brutally raped a young woman, he resembles the man she visited in San Quentin. Politics play a big role in this mystery politics and the politicians who run the United States. Was Sydney's father really involved in something nefarious as she is told? The web of deception grows and grows until Sydney is so deeply involved that she must be protected - from someone who doesn't want her to unearth any more about certain transactions involving many millions of dollars and from certain people who don't want their names to become public.

The plotting of this new book is strong, taking many twists and turns, always coming back to the main current, never losing the threads that hold it together. Sydney is a person you might like covering your back in a bad situation. Other characters reflect their positions. Sydney's boss seems like he couldn't function without his Tums, since her actions send his digestion into overdrive. Standard white shaggy poodle Topper has a proper place in the story and upholds his part well.

Be sure to read the Author's Note at the back of the book, which gives interesting and disquieting information. Face of a Killer is a good book and well worth a read. Do get to know Sydney as she'll be around for a while, I'm sure.

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