The Face of Deception
by Iris Johansen
(Bantam, $23.95, V) ISBN 0-55310623-6
****
Iris Johansen delivers first-rate suspense in her latest novel, The Face of Deception. There are plenty of twists and turns and not one ounce of filler in this lean, mean suspense machine. The writing is smart and imaginative; every sentence reveals something about the characters or the plot.

Born and raised in poverty, Eve Duncan never understood joy until the birth of her daughter. Bonnie not only gave Eve the ambition to be more than just another teenage mother on welfare, she also brought Eve and her estranged mother together again. Eve's life is forever changed when a psychopath takes Bonnie's life.

Eve desperately wants to know where her daughter is so that she can bring her home and give her a proper burial, but the killer dies without ever revealing the location of Bonnie's grave. After Bonnie's death, Eve pulls her life together and becomes a forensic sculptor. She takes the skulls of the dead and reconstructs their appearance so that they can be identified and returned to their families.

A workaholic, Eve lives to help others attain the closure she never had with her daughter. Eve gains a reputation for being the best in her field and she attracts the attention of John Logan, a politically influential billionaire. John wants Eve to work for him but she continually refuses all his overtures until he offers her a deal she can't, in good conscience, turn down.

Eve quickly suspects that John's secret is more that she bargained for when she agreed to work for him. And, if John's theory about the skull Eve's working on is correct, the result of her work would not only shock the nation, it could cost her everything she's worked for and everyone she loves.

I knew the "buzz" on this book was good, and I'm not talking about other reviews. I'm talking about the person in line at the bookstore that said she'd heard good things about this tale and couldn't wait to get a copy. I'm talking about my mother who asked me to get her a copy of this book because a friend brought it with her to their bridge club and insisted on reading it whenever she didn't have to play a hand.

Sometimes I'm disappointed when my expectations about a book are too high, but not this time. The Face of Deception is a page-turner and then some. Eve's a fascinating, extremely intelligent character; she never does anything that isn't smart or well thought out.

It's a little disappointing that the primary male characters in this book are not as fleshed out or as fully drawn as Eve. Then again, they really don't have much importance in this story–maybe they will get their turn in the sequel. Readers should know that although there will be a sequel to The Face of Deception, John's secret is revealed and resolved in this imaginative and riveting tale of suspense.

--Judith Flavell


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