When journalist Neil Bannerman received orders from his new editor to travel from the UK to Brussels to attend an EEC conference, the last thing he wants is to go along. Still, he goes, dreading the boring adventure, which quickly turns into anything but when two dead bodies are discovered.
Robert Gryffe, the British cabinet minister, and fellow journalist Tim Slater are found dead in the minister’s modest townhouse in what appears to be a fatal two-way shooting. Things take a turn, though, when it’s revealed that Tania, the minister’s young autistic child who was hiding in a closet at the time of the killing, witnessed the murder. A gifted artist, her drawing of the killer becomes the only real lead in the investigation, one that the local authorities seem content to let lie with unanswered questions. While chilling, the detailed sketch portrays a shadowy figure with no face, complicating matters for those charged with identifying and bringing the killer to justice.
Thankfully, Bannerman is on location and able to put his investigative skills to work as he chases both a story and the truth, uncovering a shocking conspiracy that links the two dead men together and exposes an expert assassin, a man known only as Kale, whom Neil fears may return to the scene of the crime to tie up a loose end and eliminate the witness, Tania. At the same time, Neil can’t help but fall for Sally, Tania’s nanny, though he’s never had a real, honest relationship before.
Feeling protective of the small girl, Bannerman works tirelessly to connect the pieces before it’s too late, but the closer he gets to the powerful people he believes are behind the chaos and mayhem, the more dangerous things become.
Peter May is a fine writer with a clean, relatively straightforward style, and Bannerman is a good character who’s developed well over the course of the story. The plot itself moves a tad slow, as it can’t seem to get out of its own way quickly enough to let the actual conspiracy shine, and the bad guy is a bit of a head-scratcher for reasons that are too spoiler-ish to write here. Let’s just say that Kale isn’t your typical villain, and it’s hard to imagine readers being lukewarm on his portrayal. You’ll either love him or hate him, and one’s ability to enjoy the entirety of the story likely hinges on just that. Still, Tania and Bannerman shine and the conspiracy adds enough intrigue that most readers will remain curious, flipping pages to see how the two characters fare in the end.
With the threads of a fun conspiracy sewn deep into the plot, The Man With No Face is a solid murder mystery from Peter May.
Author: Peter May
Pages: 416 (Hardcover)
Release Date: March 5, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 6.5/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and pens a monthly thriller column for CrimeReads. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.