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Face of a Killer by Robin Burcell
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Face of a Killer

by Robin Burcell

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Showing 5 of 5
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 very enjoyable book that was hard to put down. ( )
  HenriMoreaux | Oct 2, 2013 |
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. ( )
  bookswoman | Mar 31, 2013 |
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 victims or perpetrators as well as age progression etc. It's nice that Burcell doesn't forget these facts halfway through the book as a lot of authors do. They give their main character a job, and then they forget about it halfway through and the main character instead turns into just another avenging angel with a gun and sometimes a badge (though that doesn't seem to be a requirement). That loss of the central core of the character didn't happen here.

I liked the details of how the character did the sketches, and it was just the right amount of info about the process and then she went back to the story.

Another cool thing was the picture of the fact that slowly took shape at the beginning of every chapter. Very cool.

The only complaint I had about the story was that it did seem to start slowly, but I persevered and it sped up a bit after the first few chapters.

All in all, both a book and an author I'd recommend to anyone who likes suspense mysteries. ( )
  DanieXJ | Feb 10, 2011 |
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 ulterior motive of meeting the man who is in prison for murdering her father 20 years earlier. He has maintained since his arrest that he is innocent, and when Sydney visits him, she finds herself believing his story. Beginning to investigate it, she finds herself the object of a serial killer. Or is it a hit man?

This is a gripping story. We learn quite a bit about Sydney's (and Robin's) talent and training as a forensic artist. The character of Sydney is sympathetic, and her thought patterns and relationships with family and co-workers are realistically portrayed.

I had to force myself to read more slowly than usual so I could enjoy the excellent writing. I'm now planning to go back and reread the Kate Gillespie books. ( )
  Marlyn | May 2, 2009 |
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! ( )
  jenforbus | Dec 9, 2008 |
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FBI forensic artist Fitzpatrick questions the guilt of a man about to be executed for her father's murder twenty years earlier.

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