The Face Thief
By Eli Gottlieb
William Morrow, Hardcover, 9780061735059, 256pp.
Publication Date: January 2012
List Price: $24.99*
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Eli Gottliebs 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, he returns with a driving, compulsively readable novel that probes the wellsprings of human greed and loyalty beset by temptation.
Gottlieb introduces the mystery of the charismatic Margot, a promising journalist who morphswith stunning panachefrom a high-achieving affluent twentysomething into a grifter making her living preying on the weaknesses of men. Having studied the ancient Chinese art of face reading, she becomes an expert at reading people and is also able to rearrange her look and persona with uncanny skill to fit any social situation. She is an avenging angel, shattering marriages and draining bank accounts.
What drives her quest to deceive and disarm? Exploring this question, The Face Thief moves fluidly forward and back in time, drawing vivid portraits of Margots 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. Rich in suspense, psychological depth, and nuance, The Face Thief confirms Gottliebs standing as a master (Denver Post) and, in the words of essayist Phillip Lopate, an enthralling stylist who[se] . . . characters are shockingly, electrically alive.
“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
“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
“One of those remarkable books that sneaks up on the reader, startles, and remains memorable long after the final paragraph is read.”
“A sublime thriller…an elegant and profound novel of memory, perception and reinvention.”
“A taut psychological thriller… Not just a gifted storyteller, Gottlieb provocatively explores human relationships and the lies we tell ourselves and each other.”
“The Face Thief pushes you down the stairs on the first page and never lets you get your feet back under you. Extraordinary characters… Gottlieb expertly guides you through the minds and emotions of the people who drive this crafty psychological thriller. This is a must-read.”
-The Daily News
“With words that trip smoothly across the page like stones skimming the surface of a still pond, Eli Gottlieb brings to life three main characters in the The Face Thief. … A mesmerizing read.”
“The Face Thief is compulsively, irresistibly readable. … Page-turning.…Compelling…. Unparalleled sex-appeal… Gottlieb has a marvelous sense of suspense. ”
“Frightfully good…Gottlieb’s writing is strong.”
“Gottlieb’s stunning structural dynamics, stylistic virtuosity, and shrewd reading of contemporary culture make for a compelling, thought-provoking tale.”
-Sacramento/San Francisco Book Review
“A fast-paced and compelling story.”
“A remarkable book that sneaks up on the reader, startles, and remains memorable long after the last paragraph is read.”
“An effective study of the effects of greed on the human psyche.”