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 by Eli Gottlieb X
The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' rating:

  • Published Jan 2012
    256 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

    Publication Information

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this book

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.

This book is published by an imprint of HarperCollins. Members of the HC union have been on strike since mid-Nov, fighting for a living wage. More than 650 authors and literary agents have committed to not submitting books to the company until the strike is resolved. Recent news articles
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

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

This information about The Face Thief was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

Write your own review

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.

Cynthia A. (Grand Rapids, MI)

Intriguing, intense
Intriguing and intense! I could see this scenario actually happening. This book is a great read! The characters and the story line make this book one of my favorites.

Darcy C. (San Diego, CA)

The Face Thief Stole My Heart
Eli Gottlieb did it again for me. He wrote a terrific story and at the same time painted the story for me - with his sublime descriptions of people, feelings and events. This is a great book! I've always wanted to have the ability to speak like he writes. For instance, when Wilbraham describes the theft of Potash's life savings, he says, "Fraud is one of the booming sectors in an economic contraction, alas." And who hasn't felt awful about something they have done, but to have it described as "...plopped down in his easy chair and felt an iceberg of remorse calving gracefully off his body...". It's impossible not to feel as terrible as this character in the book.

Gottlieb creates Hi-Def imagery in your mind. The story has multiple, intriguing levels. If you want to read of revenge - it's here. Duplicity - it's here. Stone-cold larceny - yep, this book has that too! Pardon me for my theft of Gottlieb's description: If you want to read an intelligent novel where there is "a marble of malice and generosity", this is your book. Do yourself a literary favor and read this marvelous book!

William B. (East Peoria, IL)

Face Thief A Success
This book is exactly what is meant by the term literary thriller. Gottlieb's prose sings and the pages turned themselves. If I read a better book in 2012 I'll be surprised. I also recommend his last book, Now You See Him

Terri H. (Battle Ground, washington)

You MUST READ this Book!
Not unlike the protagonist, I quickly "fell" into this book. The juxtaposing story lines kept me on edge, and oh so nicely came together in the end. Mysterious, intriguing, captivating. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Patricia D. (Woodland Hills, CA)

Fantastic thriller - fantastic characters!
Eli Gottlieb's book, The Face Thief, is a book I had to read in one sitting! Once you meet the four major characters and how they interact, you're completely hooked. Margot, young and beautiful, strong and manipulative, gives Lawrence and John a real run for their lives and money. I loved and hated Margot for her clever and intuitive personality. The story is not long, but once you're near the end, Gottlieb puts a few twists into the story and turns the reader upside-down and inside-out!

This is a psychological/mind-boggling story that will stay with you for a long time. Learning to "read faces" is one thing, but reading people's minds is a whole other game entirely. Gottlieb has a winner!

...25 more reader reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Eli Gottlieb Author Biography

Born in Manhattan and raised in New Jersey, Eli Gottlieb has worked as a Senior Editor of Elle Magazine and taught American Literature as a Lecturer at the University of Padova, Italy. He is the author of Best Boy, among other novels. His works have won him the Rome Prize and the Mckitterick Prize of the British Society of Authors and have been published in 14 countries. He lives in New York City.

Author Interview
Link to Eli Gottlieb's Website

Name Pronunciation
Eli Gottlieb: GOT-leeb

Other books by Eli Gottlieb at BookBrowse
  • Best Boy jacket
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more thrillers...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start discovering exceptional books!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: The Light Pirate
    The Light Pirate
    by Lily Brooks-Dalton
    The lynchpin of The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton, a novel split into four parts, is the main ...
  • Book Jacket: The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On
    The World Keeps Ending, and the World Goes On
    by Franny Choi
    Calamity can cohabit with joy, and you and I have, on some plane, accepted that absurd reality. We ...
  • Book Jacket: Bloodbath Nation
    Bloodbath Nation
    by Paul Auster
    In recent years, Booker Prize­–nominated novelist Paul Auster has increasingly turned to ...
  • Book Jacket: The Nazi Conspiracy
    The Nazi Conspiracy
    by Brad Meltzer, Josh Mensch
    The Nazi Conspiracy by Brad Meltzer and Josh Mensch was a big hit with our First Impressions readers...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
The Love of My Life
by Rosie Walsh
An up-all-night love story wrapped in a mystery from the New York Times bestselling author of Ghosted.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Moonrise Over New Jessup
    by Jamila Minnicks

    "Jamila Minnicks pulled me into pages of history I'd never turned before."—Barbara Kingsolver

  • Book Jacket

    River Sing Me Home
    by Eleanor Shearer

    A remarkable debut about a mother's gripping journey across the Caribbean to find her stolen children in the aftermath of slavery.

  • Book Jacket

    Wade in the Water
    by Nyani Nkrumah

    A gripping debut novel of female power and vulnerability, race, and class set in a small Mississippi town in the early 1980s.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

It's A G T Me

and be entered to win..

Who Said...

When all think alike, no one thinks very much

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.