The Face of Deception (Eve Duncan Series #1)

The Face of Deception (Eve Duncan Series #1)

4.2 184
by Iris Johansen

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Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has a rare - and bittersweet - gift. Her unique ability to reconstruct the identity of the long dead from their skulls has helped bring closure to parents of missing children. For Eve, whose own daughter was murdered and her body never found, the job is a way of coming to terms with her personal nightmare. When she is approached by…  See more details below


Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan has a rare - and bittersweet - gift. Her unique ability to reconstruct the identity of the long dead from their skulls has helped bring closure to parents of missing children. For Eve, whose own daughter was murdered and her body never found, the job is a way of coming to terms with her personal nightmare. When she is approached by billionaire magnate John Logan to reconstruct the face of an adult murder victim, only his promise of a sizable charitable contribution persuades her to accept. The warning signs are clear. There is the specially equipped lab Eve is taken to, in a country inn turned high-tech security fortress in rural Virginia. Surveillance cameras monitor her every move. The telephones are tapped. And then there is Logan himself - by turns ruthless, charming, and desperate. But it's too late for Eve to walk out. The skull has begun to reveal its shocking identity, trapping her in a frightening web of murder and deceit. To free herself, she has no choice but to expose that identity and to trust Logan, the man who put her life in danger, a man who may see her as an expendable pawn.

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Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
A New Face in Suspense

Iris Johansen has grown up. This is not to say that her previous novels were immature, but something has changed — for the better — with this novelist, and it shows in her new romantic thriller, The Face of Deception. This is one of the most riveting reads of the year — brutal and shocking at times, but compelling enough to be accessible for the faint of heart. This novel is right up there with The Day After Tomorrow and Patricia Cornwell as a major-league thriller, but it has a slightly gentle touch. And, yes, romance plays a big part in the story, but it feels like a perfectly natural progression as Johansen's heroine finds herself going deeper and deeper into the dark twists and turns of this story's plot.

Eve Duncan is a forensic sculptor who loves her work — and at times, the work is gruesome. Her job is to take a skull and artistically re-create the face around it to identify the dead person. Eve grows attached to the personalities that come through the faces she sculpts, and in general, she has been involved in fighting the problem of missing children ever since her own daughter, Bonnie, was kidnapped and murdered several years prior to the beginning of the novel. Eve's compassion even extends to the man who murdered her daughter — for she wants to know where her daughter is buried in order to find some closure to that terrible event. But her daughter's killer is put to death before he can tell her anything, and Eve feels like she's floundering. Then a stranger comes to her studio door, and her lifechangesdramatically.

John Logan is no ordinary man. He's a Bill Gates wannabe with the billions of dollars and the computer chips to prove it — and he wants something desperately from Eve. He makes her a proposition: If she will work for him for two weeks, in an isolated laboratory/studio, he will pay her half a million dollars. But wait — the offer gets better. He will also donate the same amount — or more — to her favorite charity, a fund that goes toward searching for lost or missing children. Logan knows what Eve's soft spot is, and he hits it hard. Eve lives very much by her principles and her sense of right and wrong, and this deal with the devil feels very much like the wrong side of things...but her commitment to the children's charity goes deeper than usual. The kind of money Logan is talking about would virtually rescue dozens of children from horrendous situations; coming from a poverty-level childhood, with a formerly crack-addicted mother, Eve is all for getting help to children. Plus, in her dreams, her dead daughter's ghost encourages her to accept the job.

But there are problems with the dashing and enchanting Logan: He's too good to be true. And worse (to Eve, anyway), he's a Republican who wants to get the current Democratic administration out of power. So exactly what is it he's after?

What finally sends her into Logan's camp is the blood she finds splattered everywhere in her studio one morning. Someone has killed a neighbor's cat and has ruined all her work in the process. This vague threat to keep Eve from working for Logan has the opposite effect that its perpetrators intended. She decides to take the money and job, and hops into Logan's limo.

In her new digs, she's given carte blanche and can come and go from the security-encrusted property at will. But when Logan finally levels with her about what kind of skull she'll be working on, both terror and disbelief make her want to get as far from Logan as possible. The secret of who the skull belongs to, and the political ramifications it holds for the nation, all make for fascinating fiction; and as Eve discovers that there's no way out from the Logan compound, and that hired assassins are after anyone who knows the secret, she is thrown headlong into a world of love, lies, and suspense.

If you are a romantic thriller fan, and if you've never read Johansen before, start with this one. The Face of Deception is a fast-moving, heart-stopping read.
— Douglas Clegg,

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Eve Duncan Series, #1
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
4.17(w) x 6.83(h) x 1.01(d)

Read an Excerpt

"Good night, Eve." He stopped at the pedestal and looked at the skull. "You know, he's beginning to grow on me."

"She's a girl."

His smile faded. "Sorry. It wasn't funny. I guess we all have our own way of dealing with what we become after death."

"Yes, we do. But sometimes we have to face it before we should. Mandy wasn't over twelve years old."

"Mandy? You know who she was?"

She hadn't meant to let that slip. What the hell, it didn't matter. "No, but I usually give them names. Aren't you glad now that I turned you down? You wouldn't want an eccentric like me working on your skull."

"Oh, yes, I appreciate eccentrics. Half the men in my think tanks in San Jose are a little off center." He moved toward the door. "By the way, that computer you're using is three years old. We have a newer version that's twice as fast. I'll send you one."

"No, thank you. This one works fine."

"Never refuse a bribe if you don't have to sign on the dotted line for return favors." He opened the door. "And never leave your doors unlocked, as you did tonight. There's no telling who could have been waiting in here for you."

"I lock the lab up at night, but it would be inconvenient to keep it locked all the time. Everything in here has been insured, and I know how to protect myself."

He smiled. "I bet you do. I'll call you."

"I told you that I'm--"

She was talking to air; he'd already closed the door behind him.

She breathed a sigh of relief. Not that she had the slightest doubt she would hear from him again. She had never met a man more determined to get his own way. Even when his approach hadbeen velvet soft, the steel had shown through. Well, she had dealt with powerhouse types before. All she had to do was stick to her guns and John Logan would eventually get discouraged and leave her alone.

She stood up and went over to the pedestal. "He can't be so smart, Mandy. He didn't even know you were a girl." Not that many people would have.

The desk phone rang.

Mom? She had been having trouble with the ignition on her car lately.

Not her mother.

"I remembered something just as I reached the car," Logan said. "I thought I'd throw it into the pot for you to consider with the original deal."

"I'm not considering the original deal."

"Five hundred thousand for you. Five hundred thousand to go to the Adam Fund for Missing and Runaway Children. I understand you contribute a portion of your fees to that fund." His voice lowered persuasively. "Do you realize how many children could be brought home to their parents with that amount of money?"

She knew better than he did. He couldn't have offered a more tempting lure. My God, Machiavelli could have taken lessons from him.

"All those children. Aren't they worth two weeks of your time?"

They were worth a decade of her time. "Not if it means doing something criminal."

"Criminal acts are often in the eyes of the beholder."


"Suppose I promise you that I had nothing to do with any foul play connected with the skull."

"Why should I believe any promise you make?"

"Check me out. I don't have a reputation for lying."

"Reputation doesn't mean anything. People lie when it means enough to them. I've worked hard to establish my career. I won't see it go down the drain."

There was silence. "I can't promise you that you won't come out of this without a few scars, but I'll try to protect you as much as I can."

"I can protect myself. All I have to do is tell you no."

"But you're tempted, aren't you?"

Christ, she was tempted.

"Seven hundred thousand to the fund."


"I'll call you tomorrow." He hung up the phone.

Damn him.

She replaced the receiver. The bastard knew how to push the right buttons. All that money channeled to find the other lost ones, the ones who might still be alive . . .

Wouldn't it be worth a risk to see even some of them brought home? Her gaze went to the pedestal. Mandy might have been a runaway. Maybe if she'd had a chance to come home she wouldn't . . .

"I shouldn't do it, Mandy," she whispered. "It could be pretty bad. People don't fork out over a million dollars for something like this if they're even slightly on the up-and-up. I have to tell him no."

But Mandy couldn't answer. None of the dead could answer.

But the living could, and Logan had counted on her listening to the call.

Damn him.

Logan leaned back in the driver's seat, his gaze on Eve Duncan's small clapboard house.

Was it enough?

Possibly. She had definitely been tempted. She had a passionate commitment to finding lost children and he had played on it as skillfully as he could.

What kind of man did that make him? he thought wearily.

A man who needed to get the job done. If she didn't succumb to his offer, he'd go higher tomorrow.

She was tougher than he'd thought she'd be. Tough and smart and perceptive. But she had an Achilles' heel.

And there was no doubt on earth that he would exploit it.

"He just drove off," Fiske said into his digital phone. "Should I follow him?"

"No, we know where he's staying. He saw Eve Duncan?"

"She was home all evening and he stayed over four hours."

Timwick cursed. "She's going to go for it."

"I could stop her," Fiske said.

"Not yet. She has friends in the police department. We don't want to make waves."

"The mother?"

"Maybe. It would certainly cause a delay at least. Let me think about it. Stay there. I'll call you back."

Scared rabbit, Fiske thought contemptuously. He could hear the nervousness in Timwick's voice. Timwick was always thinking, hesitating instead of taking the clean, simple way. You had to decide what result you needed and then just take the step that would bring that result. If he had Timwick's power and resources, there would be no limit to what he could do. Not that he wanted Timwick's job. He liked what he did. Not many people found their niche in life as he had.

He rested his head on the back of the seat, staring at the house.

It was after midnight. The mother should be returning soon. He'd already unscrewed the porch light. If Timwick called him right away, he might not have to go into the house.

If the prick could make up his mind to do the smart, simple thing and let Fiske kill her.

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Face of Deception 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 184 reviews.
Carl80 More than 1 year ago
Smoothly written, interesting plot, some really good action. Part of the problem with this book is its length which contributes to the episodic nature. Once we are set up with Eve and John mostly at each others throats, and not in a romantic way, it becomes necessary to periodically inject a crisis or major disruption to maintain tension. Eventually Eve Duncan got on this reader's nerves and she became a bit predictable. Some readers will be put off by the references to former President John Kennedy. I was not. I also found John Logan beginning to wear thin. A shorter, tighter story would have been an improvement.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this was the first book I had read by Iris Johansen. And Let me just say it definatly will not be the last. I couldn't put it down! I suggest everyone read this book. I even got my husband to read it. And he usually doesn't read anything that doesn't involve cars. So, every go out and get this book!!
Drea82367 More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I've read by Iris Johansen. I became interested in her books after watching "The Killing Game" on LMN. After reading some of the reviews, I was leary about reading the book, but am glad I followed my own instincts! The book was a good read and I can't wait to get to the 2nd book in the series (although i may have to skip it since I've already seen the movie).
stunning More than 1 year ago
This book was a good read. The book got cheesy every time her daughter talked to her as a ghost. They could have cut that out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am glad this was not my first Iris Johansen novel. I would never have picked up another. Eve Duncan and Joe Quinn are the most annoying characters. Joe gets upset about anyone talking to Eve....and he's married!!!! I am all for a strong, independent women but Eve Duncan has been taken overboard. Her daughters death keeps getting beaten into the readers head. Needless to say, I won't be buying the Eve Duncan series anymore.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I ever read by Johansen. It was thrilling, exciting and suspensful. Worth reading! Does anyone happen to know the sequel books? I know the killing game is next but what's after that? Thanks for the help!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It holds the reader from start to finish. I will definitely read the series.
sincyn More than 1 year ago
I started reading Iris Johansen' books over the past several years and have loved her Eve Duncan series. I enjoyed this book very much and could not put the book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved everything about it from the beggining to the end. I couldn't put it down, not even for a second! The suspense was great it had me buried in the book.
Anonymous 1 days ago
Really love all of her books! A huge fan!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent novel, especially as the first in a series. The main character is particularly well developed and the plot just keeps you wanting to read more rather than hurry up to the end. Without a doubt, I will be reading the rest of this series. Stephanie Clanahan
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Wish i could afford the rest in the series...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I always like a twist that I wasn't expecting.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
ShadeBlaze at third result.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im cat #123 you want to be the third results ill tell her you can meet her at the chat room to
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The premise of this book and the characters are intriguing, but there is an almost impossible amount of unnecessary arguing, sarcasm and silly talk amongst the characters. It gets tedious and turned me off of them right away.. I didn't hate the book so will give the next in the series a chance to convince me Eve Duncan is a worthy read. I really enjoyed the LMN movie based on one of these books.
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