The Face Thief: Book summary and reviews of The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb

The Face Thief

A Novel

By Eli Gottlieb

The Face Thief
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2012,
    256 pages.

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Book Summary

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 beautiful woman falls down a seemingly endless staircase. But did Margot fall - or was she pushed?

Was it Lawrence Billings, the teacher of the lost art of "face reading" who showed her how to gain unfair advantage in every business transaction - and with whom she attempted, compulsively, to have an affair?

Or perhaps it was John Potash, the newly married middle-aged man whom Margot defrauded, stealing his - and his elderly mother's - life's savings?

Dan France, an honest, stalwart cop, is determined to sort out the truth. While he knows this beautiful, manipulative woman is trouble, he also believes that he can reform her.

Written with the edgy, brilliant characterization of James M. Cain and the exhilarating narrative suspense of early Ian McEwan, The Face Thief is a mesmerizing tale of psychological suspense that probes the sources of human greed and of loyalty beset by temptation.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"A lot more fluff than thrill ride. Still, undiscriminating mystery and thriller readers will enjoy its fast pace and compelling story." - Library Journal

"Not just a gifted storyteller, Gottlieb (Now You See Him) provocatively explores human relationships and the lies we tell ourselves and each other." - Publishers Weekly

"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." - Kirkus Reviews

"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." - Walter Kirn, author of Up in the Air and Lost in the Meritocracy

"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." - Francine Prose, New York Times bestselling author of My New American Life

The information about The Face Thief shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Shirley F. (Franksville, WI)
Thief of my time
I thought this book would be a fast and exciting study of a sociopathic female. Although the premise of face reading is a little out dated, just like the yoga retreat for sex, the "psychological thriller" aspect kept me going back to the book. For me, however, the aura of mystery presented in the beginning never got off the ground and the characters never really came to life. The story lacked momentum - while there were some background details, the reactions of the characters felt disconnected and most were never explained. By the end of the book, I still had a lot of questions, and it felt like the author had to hurry to finish the story so he introduced a bunch of possible endings to let the reader come to his/her own conclusions.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Carmen S. (Elkins, Arkansas)
Good read
Good suspense, interesting characters, the ultimate user novel.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Susan S. (Lakeville, MA)
Difficult to get into
I had a very difficult time with this book. I couldn't get into it -- in fact, I started it three times. I had difficulty following the plot and I had to force myself to finish it. The reason why I was initially interested in reading The Face Thief was because of the concept of face reading, but I found the whole idea silly and therefore, could not take this book seriously.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Anita S. (BoyntonBeach, FL)
Men spoke a stench
A great book! I loved his descriptive writing and the allusions. At first I was underlining all the wonderful phrases, but there were so many that I stopped. The intertwining of the characters really added to the suspense of this story. The characters were so well defined that I felt that one could have been my neighbor. Loved the story and I will recommend this book to my friends.

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Lauren C. (Los Angeles, CA)
Unthrilling thriller
A good thriller moves quickly, taking its characters through lots of twists and turns and keeping the reader second guessing. The author gives enough backstory to each character to make them interesting. Unfortunately, this book has none of these elements.

Almost nothing happens in this book, which is about a woman who may or may not have been murdered and who may or may not have done it. The characters were so uninteresting that I didn't really care who did it, and so few characters were in this book that it had absolutely no suspense. Saying that the plot was thin would be an understatement.

The author also had an annoying habit of having each character think through what previously happened to them instead of actually putting the characters in present tense and making them move around and do something, or finding more subtle and varied ways to insert some backstory.

Skip this book.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Tracy B. (New Castle, DE)
The Face Thief
This book was a mystery based on the turn of phrase. The Face Thief. This was an easy read as the chapters were short pulling me in. At the beginning I wanted the characters to have more depth to them.

The confusion, messy endings,the girl may appeal to a Book Club. Just who is the thief and what was being stolen? Was it one's ethics, human frailties, desires, or all of these? What were the lessons learned by these players, who didn't always know that they were even in a game?

...25 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Eli Gottlieb is the author of Now You See Him and The Boy Who Went Away, which was a New York Times Notable Book and winner of the prestigious Rome Prize and the McKitterick Prize, given by the British Society of Authors. Born in New York City, he lives in Boulder, Colorado. Visit him at www.eligottlieb.com.

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