The Face Thief

The Face Thief

3.5 7
by Eli Gottlieb
     
 

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Author of the New York Times Notable Book The Boy Who Went Away—winner of the Rome Prize and the British Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize—Eli Gottlieb returns with The Face Thief. A powerfully dark and gripping tale of two men obsessed with one very charismatic, very  damaged woman who’s determined to con from

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Overview

Author of the New York Times Notable Book The Boy Who Went Away—winner of the Rome Prize and the British Society of Authors’ McKitterick Prize—Eli Gottlieb returns with The Face Thief. A powerfully dark and gripping tale of two men obsessed with one very charismatic, very  damaged woman who’s determined to con from each of them everything she needs to survive, The Face Thief offers highest quality psychological suspense—an ideal follow up to the author’s  masterful  Now You See Him. A writer who can do no wrong, Eli Gottlieb shines with The Face Thief—an effective, provocative, and all around extraordinary novel, written with the literary flair and power of Ian McEwan and rich in its searing portraits of fallible lovers and marriages under siege.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Gottlieb’s third novel, a taut psychological thriller, an unnamed woman, later identified as Margot Lassiter, sustains grievous injuries as she tumbles down a long flight of stairs. Flashbacks reveal the enigmatic and charismatic Margot, before her near fatal fall, as a consummate schemer. Soon after Margot hired Lawrence Billings, a self-professed expert at reading body language, to give her private instruction, she tried to seduce him. Also, under an alias, Margot enticed 42-year-old John Potash, who spent most of his career as the vice principal of a small alternative Manhattan high school, to invest much of his family’s fortune in a fraudulent financial firm. Meanwhile, in the present, police detective Dan France takes a deep interest in Margot’s well-being as she recovers in the hospital. Not just a gifted storyteller, Gottlieb (Now You See Him) provocatively explores human relationships and the lies we tell ourselves and each other. Agent: Dunow, Carlson & Lerner Literary Agency. (Jan.)
Bookreporter.com
"A remarkable book that sneaks up on the reader, startles, and remains memorable long after the last paragraph is read."
Salon.com
"A sublime thriller…an elegant and profound novel of memory, perception and reinvention."
The Daily News
"The Face Thief pushes you down the stairs on the first page and never lets you get your feet back under you. Extraordinary characters… Gottlieb expertly guides you through the minds and emotions of the people who drive this crafty psychological thriller. This is a must-read."
Suspense Magazine
"With words that trip smoothly across the page like stones skimming the surface of a still pond, Eli Gottlieb brings to life three main characters in the The Face Thief. … A mesmerizing read."
Shelf Awareness
"The Face Thief is compulsively, irresistibly readable. … Page-turning.…Compelling…. Unparalleled sex-appeal… Gottlieb has a marvelous sense of suspense. "
Associated Press Staff
"Frightfully good…Gottlieb’s writing is strong."
Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review
"Gottlieb’s stunning structural dynamics, stylistic virtuosity, and shrewd reading of contemporary culture make for a compelling, thought-provoking tale."
Romantic Times
"An effective study of the effects of greed on the human psyche."
Daily Texan
"Never dull."
Francine Prose
"Psychological depth and mystery cast in great sentences: the result is a suspenseful, beautifully achieved example of what happens when a serious novelist wants us to keep turning the pages."
Walter Kirn
"A dark libido animates this novel that can’t be resisted. The reward is an intimate literary encounter with a force that is beyond good and evil, and turns the mystical screws behind our unfathomable human destinies."
Library Journal
Gottlieb's (The Boy Who Went Away; Now You See Him) third novel piques our interest with a woman tumbling down steps, with visions of her past whirring through her mind. Did Margot fall, or was she pushed? She lives, and yet as she mends, we get glimpses of her disturbing memories. Meanwhile, a newly married man drawn into a fraud and a teacher of face reading tell in alternating chapters of Margot's cunning and seductive influence over them. Gottlieb paints a rather bare-bones portrait of Margot, with her tendency to fall back on Daddy and her money issues as the basis for her destructive behavior. The male characters are more developed, to give the reader a glimpse into their lives and their motives and insecurities, thus showing how Margot was able to manipulate them so effectively. A third male character is a hapless detective who tries to see the good in Margot because he is blinded by her beauty. VERDICT A lot more fluff than thrill ride. Still, undiscriminating mystery and thriller readers will enjoy its fast pace and compelling story.—Marianne Fitzgerald, Severna Park H.S., Annapolis, MD
Kirkus Reviews
In his jaunty, intermittently suspenseful third novel, Gottlieb (Now You See Him, 2008, etc.) tracks a femme fatale/con artist and her victims. Margot Lassiter was only 16 when she began learning how to control men through sex. Ice cold, she felt nothing for her many conquests. An unhappy childhood behind her, she learned how to read people during a stint at a New York fashion magazine. The plot kicks in when she asks Lawrence Billings for private lessons. Middle-aged and happily married, Lawrence is an expert on face and body language; his seminars are Dale Carnegie spinoffs. Margot has moved on to an investment firm and needs to perfect her game. She already has a target in her sights: John Potash, once a New York educator trapped in a boring marriage, now a transplant in Northern California, madly in love with his second wife and possessor of a sizable nest egg. Gottlieb juggles the stories of Margot, Lawrence and John. Margot's story is partially flashbacks, for a mysterious fall down a staircase has resulted in memory loss and broken bones. It feels awkward, and somewhat diminishes the drama of her entrapment of John and Lawrence. She quickly separates John from his nest egg; evidently sunny California has turned his brains to mush. Nor is Lawrence, who should know better, immune to Margot's charms; she almost wrecks his marriage. But when a hard-boiled detective on surveillance duty also falls for her, that strains reader credulity; he's one sap too many. There are other problems: Margot's accomplices in the financial scam, who appear and disappear without explanation, and a cavalier response to an attempted murder. Though these moves are fumbled, Gottlieb is very good with the incidentals, especially John's relationship with his canny old mother. Gottlieb is never dull, which is a bigger compliment than it sounds, so we keep turning the pages, albeit with a raised eyebrow.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061735059
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
01/17/2012
Pages:
247
Product dimensions:
5.76(w) x 8.54(h) x 0.92(d)

What People are saying about this

Francine Prose
“Psychological depth and mystery cast in great sentences: the result is a suspenseful, beautifully achieved example of what happens when a serious novelist wants us to keep turning the pages.”
Walter Kirn
“A dark libido animates this novel that can’t be resisted. The reward is an intimate literary encounter with a force that is beyond good and evil, and turns the mystical screws behind our unfathomable human destinies.”

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