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The Face of the Assassin

The Face of the Assassin

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by David Lindsey

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From the New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Silence and Mercy comes another relentless thriller that will keep readers up all night.

When a mysterious woman arrives at the home of Paul Bern, a forensic artist who lives in Austin, Texas, she brings him two things: a human skull that she says she has smuggled out of Mexico, and an incredible secret


From the New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Silence and Mercy comes another relentless thriller that will keep readers up all night.

When a mysterious woman arrives at the home of Paul Bern, a forensic artist who lives in Austin, Texas, she brings him two things: a human skull that she says she has smuggled out of Mexico, and an incredible secret that brings him face to face with the unimaginable. Sucked into the puzzle of a past he didn't know he had, Bern finds himself inextricably embroiled in a U.S. intelligence operation that unravels in the shadows of Mexico City's murky underworld. Bern's own special skills (and a family secret) make him the central player in a stalking game in which a terrorist is the target, the past is the present, and the future of thousands of people lies in the balance of an elaborate deception. And only Bern can keep the scales from tipping.

Author Biography: David Lindsey is the author of 11 highly acclaimed novels. He lives in Austin, Texas.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forensic artist Paul Bern uses his impressive talents as a sculptor to reconstruct a face on an anonymous skull brought to him under mysterious circumstances in Lindsey's latest in a long line of expertly constructed thrillers (The Rules of Silence, etc.). The more Paul works on the skull, the more he's convinced that there's something distinctly disturbing about the emerging features. Soon after he figures it out (long after the reader has done so), he finds himself caught up in a murky world of spies, smugglers and international terrorism. Forced to abandon his idyllic central Texas home, he travels to Mexico City, where he must impersonate his own, recently murdered, CIA agent twin brother. Heavy Rain is the code name of the mission; the purpose is to capture or kill the world's most feared terrorist, Ghazi Baida. There's a beautiful agent, Susana Mejia, and the usual collection of Mexican hoods, but the real showstopper is Vicente Mondragon, a man whose entire face has been removed in a drug vendetta, leaving him with nothing more than exposed muscle, bone, gristle, protruding lips and a naked pair of googly eyes. This horror is kept antiseptic by a thin transparent membrane that Vicente must spritz at regular intervals. The novel's suspense lies in Paul's ongoing efforts to maintain his identity as his own brother and at the same time attempt to uncover Baida's terror plan. The plot is deftly handled, the characters are sharp and memorable, there's a shocker twist at the end and the background information on faces, or the lack thereof, is fascinating. Agent, Aaron Priest Literary Agency. (Apr. 20) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The one about the civvie who stands in for his CIA twin and earns the thanks of a grateful nation. Paul Bern resurrects faces after terrible damage has been done to them. He's a forensic artist, a good one. And a very quiet one: a widower with no family and a few good friends living contentedly in Austin, Texas. Not much in the tea leaves suggests the imminence of change, so when an attractive young woman carrying a hatbox-sized cardboard container shows up at his studio, Paul is only professionally curious. When she opens the container, he's impressed mostly by the fact that the skull he sees inside is in better shape than those that usually come his way. But equanimity is about to take permanent leave from Paul. Work isn't far along when he realizes, disconcertingly, that the face materializing on his drawing board is his own. Well, not quite. Soon enough, a gut-wrenching phone call confirms the idea already half-formed in his mind. Paul had known for years, of course, that he was adopted. What he hadn't known, until the call from Vincente Mondragon, is that he has a twin. That is, had a twin, he's told by Mondragon, since CIA super-agent Jude Lerner, Paul's brother, has been brutally murdered. This is a calamity of major proportions, not merely for the CIA (and rather incidentally for Paul) but for the country, so vital to US interests is the operation to which Jude was key. What Paul is asked to do next will leave him in a state of quivering surprise-a state unlikely to be shared by any seasoned reader. Old pro Lindsey (The Rules of Silence, 2003, etc.) does his best to keep things twisty, but that well-traveled-road feeling is hard to shake. Agent: Lisa Earbach-Vance/Aaron PriestLiterary Agency

Product Details

Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.46(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.49(d)

Read an Excerpt

The Face of the Assassin

By David Lindsey

Warner Books

Copyright © 2004 David Lindsey
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-446-52929-X

Chapter One

Mexico City

Lincoln Park

"Something's going on." These were the first words out of Mingo's mouth, and he could hardly wait to say them. Even in the shadows of the park, the other man could feel his anxiety.

"What's the matter?" The other man's voice was calm, softened by a Texas accent. In his late thirties, he was a decade older than Mingo and far more seasoned. Even so, he was caught off guard by the younger man's agitation. "Khalil's been gone three days. Don't know where. When he came back two days ago, the first thing he did was meet with a guy I'd never seen before. This guy's staying in a rented room in Tacubaya, not far from Khalil. I've seen them huddling together in a pastelería."

"What's he look like?" "Uh, balding, maybe early forties, not athletic, kind of puffy-looking. Office type. Very serious. Never relaxed. Then this moring, same pastelería, they met with Ahmad."

"The three of them?" "Yeah."

This was contrary to their own strict rules of operational discipline. Mingo was right to report it. "Okay."

"Afterward, everybody was tense, edgy. Things looked different. Something big has happened."

They had met where the broad sidewalk bisected the long, narrow park across the middle of its length, between the statues of Lincoln on one side and Martin Luther King, Jr., on the other. It was just after dusk in the rainy season, and the sidewalks of the park were still glistening from the evening shower that came every summer day at this hour to cool the air and tamp the city's suffocating smog.

The younger man had fallen in behind his slightly older companion as they began walking, ignoring each other as they turned onto the sidewalk that ran along the perimeter of the park. They headed toward the clock tower at the western end of the park. The man in front hadn't slowed down so that the other one could come up abreast of him until they had reached the point where Calle Lafontaine intersected the park to their right.

"What else?" the Texan asked. What the younger man had to say was interesting, something to factor into the overall picture, something to keep in mind. But it wasn't news. They were supposed to meet face-to-face only if there was news-and news meant something that significantly affected the operation.

"I think I spotted your man." The Texan didn't even break the rhythm of his casual pace. Eagerness was a mistake. Always.

"Who is that, exactly?" "My boys watching your place last night, they picked up a guy in Parque México. He stayed there an hour and a half. He was watching your place. He was using night vision binoculars. Thomas went down there with his telephoto night lens and got a shot of the guy. Just one shot. It sure as hell looks like Baida to me."

Mingo handed an envelope to the Texan. "Check it out for yourself," he said.

This was it. The point of all the months of hard work. The point of so much patience and effort and planning and risk.

"Do you have any other information about him being here?" the Texan asked, putting the envelope into his pocket and forcing a calm tone into his voice. "He's never showed up anywhere else, if that's what you mean."

"This was last night?" "Yeah. Nine-thirty to eleven o'clock." "They try to follow him?" "No."

Good. Good. Mingo was worth the money. He did exactly what he was supposed to do, and he didn't do a bit more. He had been trained well. Follow instructions precisely.

Even when you can do more, don't. That way, everyone knew exactly where you stood and where the operation stood.

"You think this is him?" the Texan asked. "Yeah, I do."

Though the park was in the middle of tranquil streets, the city's traffic rumbled in the surrounding gloom. In fact, the Paseo de la Reforma, the city's main boulevard, was only blocks away. But besides that, 22 million people simply made a lot of noise.

They rounded the corner and crossed the end of the park under the clock tower. He was surprised that Baida had been watching his place. He would have thought they would have spotted him at Ahmad's first. That would have made more sense. But then, making sense would make too much sense. If any of this had made sense, he wouldn't be doing what he was doing. And he wouldn't spend so much time in fear's claustrophobic little rooms, in the dark, air-starved cubicles of his own imagination.

"You've got nothing else?" the Texan asked. "Just this ID?" "Yes, just this ID."

He caught Mingo's emphasis. "No, you've done a fine thing, Mingo."

"Good, then." "Check your pay drop the day after tomorrow." "Bueno."

"The next time he shows up," the Texan said, "push it just a little further. Be careful. There's nobody better. He'll spot your boys the second one of them loses concentration. If they glance at a woman ... just that quick, we're screwed. Of course, the pay goes up, too."

"And so does the risk." "Listen, you're getting paid a hell of a lot more than I am."

"But when you're through," Mingo said, "you can go home to Texas. You've got U.S. government benefits waiting for you."

Right now, all of that seemed half a world and a thousand lies away. It seemed remote, and that remoteness had begun to eat at him in the last couple of years.

"Yeah," the Texan said. "Those benefits." He looked over Mingo's shoulders at the two figures moving toward them from the other end of the park. A couple, huddled together, breathing each other's breath. Lovers. He did not think or fear that they were anything other than what they appeared to be, but they reminded him that it was time to be moving on.

"Keep in touch," he said.

Mingo was used to the abrupt departures, and he nodded good-bye. The Texan was already walking away.


Excerpted from The Face of the Assassin by David Lindsey Copyright © 2004 by David Lindsey. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author

David Lindsey is the New York Times bestselling author of eleven highly acclaimed novels including Mercy, The Rules of Silence, Body of Truth, The Color of Night, and An Absence of Light. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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Face of the Assassin 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
bjh123 More than 1 year ago
As always, David Lindsey did not diaappoint me with this book. It was excellent and kept you on the edge of your seat throughout the whole book - definitely a stay up late and read because you can't put the book down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Adopted as an infant, Austin, Texas widower Paul Bern lives a contented quiet life earning a living as a highly regarded forensic resurrection expert, who recreates visages of severely damaged accident or criminal victims. Client 'Becca Haber arrives at his home bringing with her a skull she purchased from a street kid in Mexico City. She wants him to recreate the face. Paul is hardly into his effort when he already recognizes the countenance staring back at him as one he sees whenever he looks into a mirror............................... Not long afterward, the call comes confirming what an unsettled Paul theorized: that the skull he holds is his twin. The caller Vincente Mondragon informs him that the sibling he never knew existed was recently murdered CIA field agent Jude Lerner. Vincente insists that Jude¿s operation affects national security so without the superstar the country is in trouble. The civilian Paul is expected to perform as Jude so that the scenario is completed in a favorable manner........................................ Though the twins never met theme feels ancient, David Lindsey keeps his thriller fresh due to a wonderful out of place hero who belongs more in an academic background than in the midst of a deadly operation. The action-packed story line is filled with plenty of twists that will keep the audience guessing as to what happens next to Paul and by whom. His teen neighbor is an interesting support character suffering from a cognitive-disconnect disorder caused by an accident, but she enables the reader to see deep into what kind of person Paul is. Twins aside, readers will enjoy this fine civilian in the cold thriller................................... Harriet Klausner
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