Monday, January 23, 2012

Dispatch From The Field: Joe and "The Face Thief"

The real reason we have faces, she thought,
is to hold back what we’re thinking from the world.

Eli Gottlieb’s previous novel, Now You See Him, was acclaimed by reviewers as “irresistible…moving” (New York Times Book Review), “a triumph…of literary suspense” (Los Angeles Times), and “gorgeous” (USA Today). With The Face Thief , Gottlieb returns with a driving, compulsively readable novel that probes the wellsprings of human greed and of loyalty beset by temptation.

Gottlieb introduces us to the mystery of the charismatic Margot, a promising journalist who morphs—with stunning panache—from a high-achieving affluent twenty-something into a grifter making her living by preying on the weaknesses of men. Gifted with an unerring ability to “read” people due to her studies of the ancient Chinese art of face reading, and able to rearrange her look and persona with uncanny skill to fit the social situation, she is an avenging angel, shattering marriages and draining bank accounts.

What drives her in her quest to deceive and disarm? In exploring this question, The Face Thief toggles fluidly forward and back in time, drawing vivid portraits of Margot’s rocky childhood and her adult victims: an amiable, newly married man enticed into a catastrophic fraud; an esteemed teacher outwitted by his most dangerous student; and a well-meaning New York City cop tripped up by his belief in redemption.

Ingeniously constructed and exquisitely written, The Face Thief swirls a hypnotic dance of predator and prey, creating a contemporary landscape where the educated are violent, the beautiful ugly, and the well-intentioned hapless. And yet we never give way to despair because the protagonists of the book push back against the maelstrom and attempt tirelessly to right their toppled lives.

Joe says:
"This is a novel where nothing is as it seems. Following three characters whose lives are linked through deceit, failed trust, and crime. There is Margot, a woman who knows how to use her beauty and men's desire to get ahead in life. But has her luck run out? She fell (or was she pushed?) down a staircase and is recuperating in a hospital, visited by a man who may be helping her, just as he may be falling in love with her. Then there is the Lawrence, the man who teaches Margot how to read faces. After his marriage is nearly ruined, does he realize that she doesn't really need the lessons, and he's the one being played. And finally, there's John Potash, who, in an effort to increase his sizable nest egg, ends up losing everything to Margot's deceit. This novel is a thriller, and an excellent one at that. Gottlieb tells the story from differing points of view, and as the characters' lives further entangle, the pages really start to fly by. As much as I loved Now You See Him, I loved The Face Thief more. Eli Gottlieb continues to thrill the reader with his writing - crisp, thick with meaning and light on the eye. I was fascinated by the passages about face reading, entranced by Dan France's bedside manner, and rooting for each of the characters to sort the mess their lives had become and somehow get it right. I enjoyed this book more and more as I read, and was a little sad when it ended. Not disappointed in the ending in the least, but to leave these characters behind."

Come meet the author tomorrow night (Tuesday, Jan. 24) at 7:30pm at our Colfax Avenue store.  

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