THE MAN WITH NO FACE by Peter May

THE MAN WITH NO FACE

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Competent, routine conspiracy-suspense, British-style--with a sentimental subplot which may slightly broaden the appeal. May's generally unengaging hero is Edinburgh muckraker Nell Bannerman, a brutish loner who's sent by his foul new editor to look for corruption at an EEC conference in Brussels. Meanwhile, we also follow a hired-killer named Kale as he gets anonymous orders to assassinate two people at that Brussels confab: British Under Secretary of State Robert Gryffe and Bannerman's sometime colleague, newsman Tim Slater. So, when the double-death occurs (ineptly disguised as a mutually fatal shootout), Bannerman is right on the spot to do some investigating--especially since the Belgian authorities seem eager to cover the whole thing up. What was the Slater/Gryffe connection? Blackmail? Corporate corruption? Bannerman sleuths, gets hit on the head and shot at. . . while slightly sensitive hit-man Kale is now ordered to eliminate the only witness to the crime: widower Slater's autistic but artistically talented little daughter Tania, who has drawn a detailed (though faceless) picture of assassin Kale. And before Bannerman exposes Gryffe's nasty corporate involvements (and the Mr. Big behind it all), he'll reluctantly fall in love with Tania's baby-sitter--and, paternally, with poor Tania herself, who'll nearly die in a shootout. May does a solid job with the cleanly written, if rather slow-moving, action here. Better still is the portrait of stifling Brussels and its seedy journalistic community. His attempts at psychology, however, are limp--especially the unconvincing inner monologues for hit-man Kale (his rotten childhood), Bannerman (his guilts over a long-ago love affair), and Tania (her autistic world-view). And a Walt-Disney-happy ending--with Tania on the verge of a huge neurological breakthrough--is a bit much to stomach. Still, Tania is an undeniable heart-grabber, and the rest is serviceably Buchanesque; so fans of assassination/conspiracy thrillers may find this an agreeable, moderately atmospheric change-of-pace.

Pub Date: Dec. 18th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's