The Face of Death

( 53 )


In Shadow Man, Cody McFadyen took the suspense thriller where other writers have feared to tread. He introduced readers to a heroine every bit as dark and edgy as the serial killers she hunts: Special Agent Smoky Barrett. Now, in his latest novel, McFadyen brings Agent Barrett back to track down a killer who breaks all the rules. Get ready for a shattering confrontation with the very essence of human evil.

“I want to talk to Smoky Barrett or ...

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The Face of Death

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In Shadow Man, Cody McFadyen took the suspense thriller where other writers have feared to tread. He introduced readers to a heroine every bit as dark and edgy as the serial killers she hunts: Special Agent Smoky Barrett. Now, in his latest novel, McFadyen brings Agent Barrett back to track down a killer who breaks all the rules. Get ready for a shattering confrontation with the very essence of human evil.

“I want to talk to Smoky Barrett or I’ll kill myself.

The girl is sixteen, at the scene of a grisly triple homicide, and has a gun to her head. She claims “The Stranger” killed her adoptive family, that he’s been following her all her life, killing everyone she ever loved, and that no one believes her.

No one has. Until now.

Special Agent Smoky Barrett is head of the violent crimes unit in Los Angeles, the part of the FBI reserved for tracking down the worst of the worst. Her team has been handpicked from among the nation’s elite law enforcement specialists and they are as obsessed and relentless as the psychos they hunt; they’ll have to be to deal with this case.

For another vicious double homicide reveals a killer embarked on a dark crusade of trauma and death: an “artist” who’s molding sixteen-year-old Sarah into the perfect victim—and the ultimate weapon. But Smoky Barrett has another, more personal reason for catching The Stranger—an adopted daughter and a new life that are worth protecting at any cost.

This time Smoky is going to have to put it all on the line. Because The Stranger is all too real, all too close, and all too relentless. And when he finally shows his face, if she’s not ready to confront her worst fear, Smoky won’t have time to do anything but die.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" McFadyen writes like a veteran, and Smoky proves that she’s a strong enough protagonist to support a series."—Booklist
Publishers Weekly

McFadyen's outstanding sequel to his debut, Shadow Man(2006), provides a chilling reminder: "However bad things may become, evil men only triumph in the most important ways when we let them." FBI Special Agent Smoky Barrett is barely back in fighting form six months after killing the man who murdered her family and best friend before she must deal with another threat. "The Stranger," a serial killer seeking revenge for a miscarriage of justice, has targeted 16-year-old Sarah Langstrom, who asks for Smoky's help after the Stranger kills Sarah's latest foster family. The Stranger's murder spree actually began on Sarah's sixth birthday with her biological parents and dog. Smoky's crackerjack L.A. Violent Crimes Unit whirls into action to catch a monster who inflicts pain on Sarah by systematically killing anyone she loves. Smoky's fierce first-person narrative and Sarah's eerie diary excerpts, supplemented by a great cast, lift this scary thriller far above the usual serial-killer norm. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
(See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/07) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A scarred FBI agent faces her own past as well as a strange teen's demons as she tracks a bloodthirsty serial killer. Smoky Barrett has her hands full. Not only is she grieving her own brutal rape and the murder of her husband and daughter, she's raising silent Bonnie, the ten-year-old daughter of a friend who was also the killer's victim. When her boss offers her a chance to leave the field and teach, she is tempted. She wants to give both Bonnie and herself a chance at recovery. But she's still on the job when the call comes in. A teenage girl, covered in blood and holding a gun to her head, asks for Smoky. Smoky talks young Sarah into relinquishing the gun, and removes her from the home where her family has been slaughtered. But not before promising to read the girl's diary, which details a mysterious man she calls "The Stranger." Has there really been a stalker bringing tragedy to Sarah's life? When other bodies start stacking up, Smoky has no choice but to continue with the case, despite the cost to her own recovery, her adopted daughter and her coterie of loyal friends. In this follow-up to Shadow Man (2006), the author never strays far from standard serial-killer formula. Smoky may no longer be beautiful, but she's a classically spunky heroine, as well as an ace with a gun. Her elusive prey is a chilling monster who leaves messages ("THIS PLACE = JUSTICE") in his victims' blood and is smart enough to confuse the FBI's profilers. All the expected thrills in a readable package. Agent: Liza Dawson/Liza Dawson Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780553589948
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 7/29/2008
  • Series: Smoky Barrett Series , #2
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 656
  • Sales rank: 551,114
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Cody McFadyen lives with his family in California. He is also the author of Shadow Man.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I dream the face of death.

It's an ever-changing face, worn by many at the wrong time, worn by all eventually. I have looked into this face, over and over and over.It's what you do, dummy.A voice in my dream tells me this.The voice is right. I am in the Los Angeles branch of the FBI, and I am responsible for hunting the worst of the worst. Child killers, serial killers, men (and sometimes women) without conscience or restraint or remorse. It's what I have done for over a decade and if I haven't seen death in all its guises, I've seen it in most. Death is endless and erosive. Its unfettered face wears on a person's soul.Tonight, the face changes like a strobe in a fog, moving between three people I once knew.

Husband, daughter, friend. Matt, Alexa, Annie.Dead, dead, and dead.I find myself facing a mirror with no reflection. The mirror laughs at me. It hee-haws like a donkey, it lows like a cow. I hit it with my fist and the mirror shatters. A purple bruise blossoms on my cheek like a rose. The bruise is lovely, I can feel it.My reflection appears in the mirror shards.The voice again: Broken things still catch the light.I wake from this dream by opening my eyes. It's a strange thing, going from a deep sleep to full awareness in the space of a blink. But at least I don't wake up screaming anymore.I can't say the same for Bonnie. I turn on my side to look at her, being careful not to jostle. I find she is already awake, staring into my eyes."Did I wake you up, honey?" I ask.She shakes her head. No, she's saying.It's late, and this is one of those times where sleep still beckons. If Bonnie and I are willing, it will draw us back down again. I open my arms to her. My adopted daughter moves close to me. I hug her tight, but not too tight. I smell the sweetness of her hair and darkness claims us with the whisper of an ocean tide.

When I wake up, I feel great. Really and truly rested, in a way I haven't for a long time. The dream has left me feeling cleansed. Gently scoured.I feel unrushed and distant and peaceful. I don't have anything in particular to worry about, which is strange; worry is a phantom limb for me. This is like being in a bubble—or maybe the womb. I go with it, floating for a little while, listening to my own white noise. This is a Saturday morning, not just in name, but as a state of being.I look over to where Bonnie should be, and see only rumpled sheets. I cock an ear and hear faint patterings.

Ten-year-old feet, moving through the house. Having a ten-year-old daughter can be like living with a fairy. Something magical.I stretch and it feels glorious and catlike. Just one item is needed to make this morning a thing of perfection. As I think it, my nose twitches.Coffee.I bound out of bed, and head down the stairs to the kitchen. I note with satisfaction that I'm wearing nothing but an old T-shirt and what I call my "granny panties," along with a pair of ridiculous fluffy slippers in the shape of elephants. My hair looks like it just went through a hurricane. None of it matters, because it's Saturday, and no one else is here but us girls.Bonnie meets me at the bottom of the stairs with a cup of coffee.

"Thanks, munchkin." I take a sip. "Perfect," I say, nodding. And it is.I sit down at the dining table, sipping my coffee. Bonnie drinks a glass of milk, and we look at each other. It's a very, very comfortable silence. I grin."This is some great morning, isn't it?"She grins back, and that smile steals my heart again, nothing new. She nods.Bonnie does not speak. Her muteness is not a result of any physical defect.

It's the result of her mother getting butchered while she watched. And of the killer then tying her to her mother's corpse, face-to-face. She was there for three days like that. She hasn't spoken a word since.Annie—her mother—was my best friend in the world. The killer came for her to hurt me. At times, I know that Annie died because she was my friend. Most of the time I don't know this. I pretend it isn't there, something just too huge and dark and crushing, a shadow the size of a whale. If I were to know that truth too often, it would break me.

Once, when I was six, I was angry at my mother for some reason. I can't even remember why. I had a kitten that I'd named Mr. Mittens, and he came up to me with that empathy animals can have, knowing I was upset. Mr. Mittens approached me with unconditional love, and my response was to give him a little kick.He wasn't hurt, not permanently. Not even temporarily. But he was never really a kitten again. He would always flinch first when you went to pet him. To this day, if I think about Mr. Mittens, I'm consumed with guilt. Not just a twinge, but a feeling of pure awfulness, a kind of crippling of the soul. It was an evil act. I did permanent harm to something innocent. I never told anyone what I did to Mr. Mittens. It's a secret I plan to take to my grave, a sin I'd rather go to hell for than confess.Thinking about Annie makes me feel like I kicked Mr. Mittens to death. So I'm comfortable not knowing, most of the time.Annie left Bonnie to me.

She is my penance. It's not fair, because Bonnie is magic and wonder and sunny days. Muteness, night screams, and all. Penance should involve suffering; Bonnie brings me smiles.I think about all this in an instant, looking at her. Thought moves fast."How about we hang out and be lazy for a few hours, and then we go shopping?"Bonnie considers this for a moment. This is one of her traits. She doesn't blithely respond to anything. She gives it real thought, makes sure that when she answers, it's the truth. I don't know if this is a product of what she went through, or a quirk of character she was born with. She lets me know what she's decided with a smile and a nod.

"Coolio. Want breakfast?"

This requires no consideration, food being a consistent exception to that quirk. Affirmation is instant and enthusiastic.I putter around, making bacon, eggs, toast. As we munch, I decide to broach the coming week with her."I told you I took a few weeks off, didn't I?"

She nods.

"I did it for a lot of reasons, but one in particular. I wanted to talk to you about it because . . . well . . . it'll be a good thing, but it might be a little bit hard too. For me, I mean."

She leans forward, watching me with a steady, patient intensity.I sip my coffee.

"I've decided it's time to put some things away. Things like Matt's clothes, his bathroom stuff. Some of Alexa's toys. Not the photos or anything like that. I'm not talking about erasing them. It's just . . ." I'm looking for the words. I find them, and they form a simple sentence: "It's just that they don't live here anymore."

Succinct, a single line. Filled with all of the meaning and knowledge and fear and love and hope and despair in the world. Spoken after crossing a desert of darkness.I am the head of the Violent Crimes Unit in Los Angeles. I'm good at my job—real good. I oversee a team of three other people, all hand-selected by me, all exemplary law-enforcement professionals. I could be modest, I suppose, but I would just be lying. The truth is, you really don't want to be the psycho that my team is after.

A year ago, we were hunting a man named Joseph Sands. Nice guy to his neighbors, loving father of two, bearer of just a single flaw: He was hollow inside. He didn't seem to mind, but I'm sure the young women he tortured and murdered did.We were hot on his trail—close to figuring out that it was him, in other words—when he changed my world. He broke into my home one night and, using just rope and a hunting knife, ended the universe as I knew it. He killed my husband, Matt, in front of me. He raped and disfigured me. He pulled my daughter, Alexa, up, using her as a human shield to catch the bullet that I had fired at him.I returned the favor by filling him up with every bullet in my gun, and reloading to do it all again. I spent six months after that deciding whether I was going to go on living or blow my brains out.Then Annie got killed, and Bonnie was there, and somewhere along the way, life got a firm grip on me again.Most people can't truly conceive of being in a place where death might be preferable to life.

Life is strong. It grips you in many ways, from the beating of your heart, to the sun on your face, to the feel of the ground beneath your feet. It grasps you.Its grip on me was as thin as a thread. A strand of spider's silk, holding me over the edge of the chasm of forever. Then it was two threads. Then five. Then it was a rope. The chasm began to recede, and at some point I realized that life once again had a grip on me. It had snared me back into the moment to moment of drawing breath and pumping blood, and I cared about it all again. The chasm was gone, replaced by a horizon."It's time to make this a real home again, honey. You understand?"

She nods. I can tell she understands it in every way.

"Now—here's the part you might like." I give her a small smile. "Aunt Callie took some time off, and she's going to come stay with us and help out"—this elicits a smile of pure delight from Bonnie—"and Elaina is going to be coming over too."

Her eyes become lighthouses of happiness. The smile is blinding. Definite approval.

I grin.

"Glad it makes you happy."

She nods, we get back to eating. I'm woolgathering when I realize she is studying me again, head cocked. She has a soft, quizzical look on her face."

You wonder why they're coming?"She nods."

Because . . ." I sigh. It's another single, simple sentence: "Because I can't do it by myself."I'm resolute about this, about moving forward. But I'm a little bit afraid of it too. I've spent so much time being fucked up, I'm suspicious of my recent bout of stability. I want friends around to support me if I get a little bit wobbly.Bonnie gets out of her chair, comes over to me. I feel such softness in this child. Such goodness. If my dreams contain the face of death, then this is the face of love. She reaches up and traces the scars that cover the left side of my face with a light finger. Broken pieces. I am the mirror.My heart fills and empties, fills and empties.

"I love you too, sweetheart."Quick hug, canyon of meaning, back to breakfast. We finish and I sigh with contentment. Bonnie burps, huge and loud. A shocked silence follows—and then we both break out in laughter that comes straight from the belly. We laugh until we cry, it subsides to giggles, ends in smiles.

"Want to go watch some cartoons, munchkin?"A blazing smile, like the sun on a field of roses.I realize that this is the best day I have had in the last year. The very, very best.

Chapter Two

Bonnie and I are going through the Glendale Galleria—mall to end all malls—and the day has only gotten better. We stopped into a Sam Goody's to look at the music selection. I got a CD set—Best of the Eighties—and Bonnie got the newest Jewel CD. Her current musical interests seem to match her personality: full of thought and beauty, neither unhappy nor joyous. I look forward to the day that she asks me to buy her something because it makes her toes tap, but today I could care less.

Bonnie's happy. That's all that matters.

We buy some giant salted pretzels and sit down on a bench to eat them and people-watch. Two teenagers wander by, oblivious to anything but each other. The girl is in her mid-teens, brunette, homely, slender on top, heavy on the bottom, wearing low-slung jeans and a halter top. The boy is about the same age and adorably un-cool. Tall, skinny, gangly, sporting thick-lensed glasses, lots of acne, and hair down past his shoulders. He's got his hand in the back pocket of her jeans, she has her arm around his waist. They both look young and goofy and awkward and happy. Two square pegs, they make me smile.I catch a middle-aged man goggling at a beautiful twentysomething. She's like an untamed horse, full of an effortless vitality. Perfect jet-black hair down to her waist. Flawless tanned skin. Perky smile, perky nose, perky everything, exuding confidence and a sensuality that I think is more unconscious than purposeful. She walks by the man. He continues to catch flies with his open mouth. She never even notices him. The way of things.Was I like that once? I muse.

Something beautiful enough to lower the male IQ? I suppose I was. But times change.I get looks now, it's true. But they're not looks of desire. They are looks ranging from curiosity to distaste. Hard to blame them. Sands did some of his best work when he cut my face.The right side is perfect and untouched. All the really grisly stuff is on the left. The scar starts at my hairline in the middle of my forehead. It goes straight down to between my eyebrows, and then it rockets off to the left, an almost perfect ninety-degree angle. I have no left eyebrow; the scar has replaced it. The puckered road continues, across my temple, arcing in a lazy loop-de-loop down my cheek. It rips over toward my nose, crosses the bridge of it just barely, and then turns back, slicing in a diagonal across my left nostril and zooming one final time past my jawline, down my neck, ending at my collarbone.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 53 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 23, 2010

    Just as good as the first!!!

    Second in the Smoky Barrett series does not disappoint at all. This author rocks in the world of darkness and creepiness. Smoky and team are after some truely twisted minds in this series. Must read this but might I suggest you also read Cody's "Shadow Man" to find out exactly the hell that Smoky was living in before she got her kick ass FBI mojo back.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 15, 2011



    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 19, 2011

    author does it again

    i read his books out of order but i absolutely loved this book. i even cried at a few parts. a must read!,!!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2013


    Loved it!!!

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  • Posted October 7, 2013

    Good Book But Not For the 'Faint-of-Heart'

    Smoky Barrett has many things going on in her personal life. As head of an FBI "Criminal Minds" like group, she is trying to decide whether she should continue leading the group or accept a teaching position she has been offered at Quantico. She is also trying to raise a budding teenager who was psychologically damaged by an event occurring in Cody's previous book Shadowman. As she tries to deal with these traumatic events, she is also trying to remove the personal effects of her deceased husband and daughter from her home. Both her husband and daughter were previously murdered by a serial killer. The book's opening is very similar to that of Cody's previous novel. Smoky and her FBI team are called into action by a request from Sarah, a 13 year old girl on the verge of committing suicide. Sarah looks at Smoky as her last hope. A person she calls "The Stranger" has been stalking her since she was six years old and killing everyone with whom she forms a relationship. The Face of Death is well written, well edited, the characters are believable and there is plenty of action. The book includes elements of torture and grizzly murder scenes that had me reading in small installments rather than being a 'I-can't-put-it-down' book. As a result, this book as taken me longer to read and any other book I have ever read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2013

    Cody McFadyen's Face of Death

    I am totally hooked on Cody McFadyen's books! Face of Death was another page turner that I thoroughly enjoyed reading!

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  • Posted September 1, 2012

    I haven't read this book yet and I know it's awesome. shadow man

    I haven't read this book yet and I know it's awesome. shadow man ROCKS! Brilliant writing and creativity.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2012

    Unbelievable series

    Must read if u enjoy this genre!

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  • Posted November 16, 2009

    EXCELLENT BOOK-Would recommend to anyone looking for something a little different.

    I had never even heard of Jody Macfadyn until I saw his book in the discount books. He is an excellent writer. Smokey Barret is a character with a scarred mind and body but is strong and enduring. I look forward to reading the rest of his books.

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  • Posted August 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    From a Yawn to Terror

    The beginning of this book was extremely slow moving. Once it got to the part with Sarah's diary it became intense. The entries regarding the death of her parent's was sheer terror. The remainder of the book kept you guessing about the identity of the stranger and it wasn't predictable.

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  • Posted April 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:



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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2008

    Not for the faint of heart...or stomach

    Mass Market Paperback: 624 pages Publisher: Bantam -July 29, 2008 Language: English ISBN-10: 0553589946 ISBN-13: 978-0553589948 Book Synopsis: A sixteen-year old girl holds a gun to her head at the scene of a grisly triple homicide. She claims ¿The Stranger¿ killed her adoptive family, that hes¿s been following her all her life, killing everyone she ever loved, and that no one believes her. But Special Agent Smoky Barrett does. Her team has been hand-picked from amont the nation¿s elite law enforcement specialists and they are as obsessed and relentless as the psychos they hunt they¿ll have to be to deal with this case. For another vicious double homicide reveals a killer embarked on a dark crusade of trauma and death: an ¿artist¿ who¿s molding Sarah into the perfect victim - and the ultimate weapon. To catch him, Smoky is going to have to put her own fragile, once-shattered life on the line. For The Stranger is all too real, all too close, and all too determined. And when he finally shows his face, Smoky had better be ready to face her worst fear. Let me first preface this by saying - this book may not be for everyone. I am a huge fan of shows like The First 48, and growing up in Wisconsin, we have had our fair share of nasty killers, most notably Jeffrey Dahmer. Mr. McFadyen does something few authors have been able to do for me - he has actually made me cry during a portion of this book. I will not go into details, but it involves the events of Sarah¿s 6th birthday - heart wrenching, to say the very least. As strange as this may sound, this review is hard for me to write. Not because I don¿t have a lot to say but because I don¿t want to spoil this book for anyone. This book is being placed in my top 10 books of 2008 for sure, and without going back to check my list I would say it was in the top 2 or 3. Even though it is almost 600 pages long, once I started reading I had a VERY hard time putting it down. His prose, in my mind, is comparable to one of the greatest writers of our time - Stephen King. Like King, the description of not only the events, but of the characters, leaves no room for doubt - you feel as if you are standing there witnessing things firsthand, and like these characters are people that you really know. This is something that is a rare find in an author, and should be truly commended, whether you like the subject matter of the book or not. I think the hardest part for me was that initially no one believes Sarah. This poor 6 year old witnesses something beyond my wildest imagination, and when trying to tell the police about it she is dismissed as confused. My heart was literally breaking for this poor innocent child. Once you read this, you will realize not only why she isn¿t believed (the killer does a good job of covering his tracks and making things look other than what they are), and then you will realize how deep corruption can go. He also demonstrates how far the human mind can go without actually breaking - Sarah¿s journey is fraught with such evil, and yet she somehow keeps at least a shred of sanity. Don¿t get me wrong, this book isn¿t ALL about murder (although to be honest the vast majority is fairly gruesome). The relationship between Smoky and her team is fabulous - even James who is ¿the odd man out¿. As Smoky herself says ¿He can peer into the mind of a killer and not blink. He can gaze at evil full in the face and then pick up a magnifying glass to get a closer look.¿ This is the same ability Smoky has, which makes her the best in the business. And, she needs someone with that same ability to bounce ideas off of - no matter how difficult he is to work with. Bonnie, Elaina, Alan, and Callie are all very developed and you grow to really get a feel for the relationship between all of them. And despite all of the horror they have all been through¿literally¿this has helped them to form a bond of friendship and love that is beautiful. On

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2008

    GREAT Book

    Why isn't this author getting more attention?? The second book was better than the first. Great characters, storyline, etc. More please!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2008

    Cody is the real deal!!

    This is the author's 2nd book. Both are excellent!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2007

    Face of Death is an excellent read

    I have become a huge fan of this author! Like Karin Slaughter and Patricia Cornwell, McFadyen has created wonderful charecters that continue book to book. Smoky is a great character who just breaks my heart because of all the sadness she's been through, but she's is so strong. I can't wait until the next book. It's rare to find an author whose not afraid to let his characters lose sometimes. It's not always the most popular way to go. People want happy endings, but that's not life most of the time. This author keeps me waiting for more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 7, 2007

    Good Story

    The author tells a good story but he needs to get over himself. Paragraph after paragraph of him wanting you to know how vast his personal dictionary is annoys me. Just tell the story and let it and the characters speak for themselves.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2007

    McFadyen has done it again

    This is the second book in McFadyen's series. This book was fantastic. This author has a lot of talent. You get to know the characters even better in this book. I can't wait for the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2007

    You did it again, Cody!!

    Even though this was only his second novel, Cody McFadyen has now dethroned my favorite author, James Patterson. I absolutely LOVED Cody's first book entitled 'Shadow Man,' and this book was a really, really good follow-up to that. Keep up the good work, Cody. You're now my FAVORITE author (too bad, James).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2007

    Better Than Shadow Man

    Excellent storyline and the story just keeps moving. Scary but enjoyable too read.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    superb FBI crime thriller

    Face of Death Cody McFadyen Bantam, Jun 2007, $24.00 ISBN: 0553804669 In Canoga Park, California, sixteen year old Sarah Kingsley has blood all over herself. Inside her home is a massacre with three dead naked people lying in a bed in the master room. The distraught teen sits amongst them holding a gun to her head and insisting she will only speak to FBI Special Agent Smoky Barrett, chief of the four person violent crimes unit in Los Angeles Sarah read that Smoky lost everything she cherishes so would understand her. If her demand is not met, she will kill herself. --- Sarah tells Smoky that 'The Stranger', killed her adoptive family, as he has done with anyone she has gotten close to throughout her life. With the girl sounding sincere especially in her diary and after the Jack, Jr. Ripper case (see SHADOW MAN) Smoky believes Sarah is telling the truth as she thinks the Stranger exists and is trying to manipulate Sarah into something but the cop is not sure what. As she and her team investigate, she thinks of her late child and her newly adopted daughter as the impetus to stop the Stranger from further murders. --- From the moment Smoky ¿negotiates¿ with Sarah to the final confrontation five days later, this exciting thriller grips the audience who at times wonder if the Stranger exists. The action-packed story line is fast-paced, but belongs to the key trio. Smoky contemplates a job offer at Quantico that will allow her she thinks to run from her demons while everyone ponders if she lost it as the evidence of a Stranger is based solely on Sarah¿s belief. Sarah is a fascinating teen who has seen so much horror in her life, she knows nothing else. Finally, the Stranger takes on mythical proportions as readers see him through Sarah¿s frightened eyes. Though the motives for the homicides are over the top, FBI crime thriller fans will enjoy Smoky and the killing bandit. --- Harriet Klausner

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