FACES OF FEAR
by John Saul
Ballantine Books/Random House
New York, NY
15-year-old Alison Shaw enjoys her middle-class life with her parents, a real estate agent and a TV production manager. However, her world is turned upside down when her parents’ marriage dissolves after her father reveals he is gay. Alison’s mother marries acclaimed plastic surgeon Conrad Dunn, whose wife committed suicide after a boating accident left her perfect (albeit surgery-enhanced) face permanently scarred. Alison moves with her mother to Dunn’s mansion and has trouble adjusting to an affluent lifestyle with friends who think nothing of paying thousands of dollars for clothes and indulging in plastic surgery to fix perceived flaws. Meanwhile, a demented murderer named the Frankenstein Killer is harvesting parts of women’s faces, as well as their adrenal and thymus glands, leaving behind mutilated corpses. As the killer picks up the pace, Alison and her mother are peripherally aware of the frantic search by the police, although unaware that Alison may be the motive behind the killings.
Faces of Fear, Saul’s 35th novel, has mystery, suspense, characters wholesome and likable and those adroitly portrayed as evil and maniacal. Although slow to start, the book does pick up speed, yet savvy readers will figure out the mystery well before it is revealed.