The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

August 13, 2007

Book review: Authors show similarities in crime thrillers


By Phyllis Seesengood

Globe columnist



‘Face of Death’

By Cody McFadyen

(compact disc audiobook)

Special Agent Smoky Barrett of the special crimes unit of Los Angeles is called to the scene of a triple homicide. The three victims have been tortured and their bodies mutilated.

A young girl, 16-year-old Sarah, is the only survivor at the crime scene. Members of Sarah’s foster family are the victims of the grisly murders. Smoky learns that Sarah’s own parents were murdered when she was only six years old by a man she calls “The Stranger.” Sarah claims that The Stranger has been stalking her since her parents’ murders. Everyone whom Sarah has ever been close to has suffered horrific deaths at the hands of this madman.

No one has ever really believed Sarah’s story until now. As Smoky reads Sarah’s diary and gets her to open up little by little, Smoky believes that Sarah is telling the truth. Smoky’s own life was changed forever a year ago when her husband and young daughter met their deaths at the hands of a serial killer. Smoky was raped and her face was horribly disfigured by the murderer. Her best friend was murdered shortly afterwards, and Smoky subsequently adopted her young daughter. The girl hasn’t spoken a word since the traumatic murder. So, yes, Smoky knows there are maniacs who commit atrocious crimes, and she will do everything in her power to capture this killer before he strikes again.

Cody McFadyen writes a gripping suspenseful psychological thriller. This novel follows his first book, “Shadow Man.” McFadyen provides gruesome descriptions of the murder scenes, memorable characters and exciting plot twists. Joyce Bean provides excellent narration and character portrayals for this audiobook.

The Joplin Public Library also owns copies of the “Face of Death” and “Shadow Man” in regular print.

‘City of Fire’

By Robert Ellis

(compact disc audiobook)

As the Santa Ana winds threaten Los Angeles with a raging fire, Lena Gamble, an LAPD detective, and her partner, Hank Novak, investigate the brutal rape and murder of beautiful and pregnant Nikki Brant in the victim’s own home. The first clues point to Nikki’s husband, but as she continues the investigation, Lena discovers a possible link to an earlier murder.

Lena still grieves the death of her rock-star brother David. David’s mysterious death was never solved, and Lena has never found closure. One of David’s friends is found dead and a girl believed to be his girlfriend is discovered raped and slaughtered. Lena believes that there must be a connection between her brother’s case and his friend’s murder. When more beautiful women are murdered in the same manner, Lena and Novak realize there is a serial killer on the loose. Romeo is the name given to the killer by the media. As investigations into the murders continue, Lena wonders if there is a cover-up in the police department, especially regarding her brother’s case.

This crime thriller’s exciting plot is complex and filled with graphic descriptions and violence. Actress Renée Raudman’s narration draws the listener in, and I was hooked from the beginning. Both the audiobook and regular print copies of “City of Fire” are available at the Joplin Public Library.

I wasn’t aware that the novels share some similarities when I chose them. Despite the fact that McFadyen and Ellis are male, both authors do an amazing job of writing from a woman’s perspective. Their strong female characters suffer from life-altering tragedies, but are still determined to do their job of catching the serial killers. Both novels are intense, suspense-filled, edge-of-your seat psychological thrillers.

Lisa E. Brown is the administrative assistant at the Joplin Public Library.