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The Face of the Assassin    by David Lindsey order for
Face of the Assassin
by David Lindsey
Order:  USA  Can
Warner, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

In The Face of the Assassin, David Lindsey gives us another headlong thriller that once again plunges an ordinary man very abruptly into extreme violence and danger, and keeps him there till the end.

There are government spies, South American drug dealers, global assassins and terrorists in the mix, along with a recurring theme of faces - what they can reveal and what they can hide. The protagonist, Paul Bern, is a Texan forensic artist, who puts faces on the faceless - he reconstructs from human remains the probable appearance of the original. And an intriguing young woman, the daughter of Paul's friends, makes brief appearances in the plot, showcasing her extraordinary talent to read faces - brain damage from an accident has left Alice a 'human lie-detector'.

Paul is blackmailed by Lex Kevern and Vicente Mondragón, agents loosely linked to the U.S. intelligence community and supposedly the good guys, into posing as the agent who managed to penetrate a key terrorist cell before his demise. Jude got close to the inner circle of Hezbollah terrorist Ghazi Baida, who's feared to have a plan that's close to cataclysmic fruition in the U.S. homeland, and has been operating out of South America's Triple Border region. Now Paul shows up in Mexico City to play the part of Jude, with support from the agent's partner, Susana.

Hard though this is, the situation quickly worsens. Mondragón, whose face was literally taken from him during torture, has his own agenda, and betrayal and bloodshed soon become the order of the day. Kevern is after an intelligence coup, Mondragón wants revenge, Baida's motivations are obscure, and Bern is faced with an extremely challenging dilemma for an amateur. The question becomes how like Jude is he really? Of course, Paul comes through, but there are all kinds of twists, turns and surprises before the satisfying ending.

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