Faceless by Vanda Symon

Today I pass the baton to Mandie who has a review of Faceless, the latest thriller from Vanda Symon. I love the author’s writing and this one was an absolute cracker. You can read my thoughts here. Here’s what the book is about:

Source: Advance Reader Copy
Release Date: 17 January 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books

About the Book

Worn down by a job he hates, and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middle-class Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse, and he doesn’t know what to do.

Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing, and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max, but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing.

In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past, and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time, and the clock is ticking…

Hard-hitting, fast-paced and immensely thought-provoking, Faceless – the startling new standalone thriller from New Zealand’s ‘Queen of Crime’ – will leave you breathless.

Mandie’s Thoughts

I am a huge fan of Vanda Symon’s Sam Shephard series, so I was intrigued to get stuck into Faceless. This is a standalone book and for me a whole lot darker than what I had read before from her. This is the story of Max, Billy and Bradley who by chance end up in each other’s lives and not for the better in some cases.

Billy and Max are both living on the streets after having found themselves there for very different reasons. Max took Billy under his wing and over time they became friends always looking out for each other so when she goes missing Max confronts his past head on in order to find her, the question is will anyone believe a homeless man who looks the way he does. Billy is a street artist who has to resort to selling herself to fund her passion and stay alive which brings her into the path of Bradley. On the face of it Bradley is a normal overworked married man who is just looking for an escape for the night. This spur of the moment decision doesn’t end well, and he finds himself in a situation he is not sure he can get out of, and we start to see a darker side to this man.

I have to say that reading this book there were times when I was left feeling a little uncomfortable especially when it came to Billy and her suffering at the hands of Bradley, but I think that was the point. Even with what she was going through, when she believed that she would not get out if it alive, she still had a spirit that couldn’t truly be broken as she focused on the good things that had been in her life and her friend Max. As I learned more about why Max was now homeless I couldn’t help but feel for the man he once was and who he had become. The attitudes towards him show just how bad society can be to people who have fallen on bad times or see no other option to drop out of what is considered normal, so it was warming to see him push past the prejudices and make himself heard.

The short chapters that captured the story from the different characters points of view ensured that the story did not lose any of its pace or intensity and shows the reader just how good Vanda’s writing is.

About the Author

Vanda Symon lives in Dunedin, New Zealand. As well as being a crime writer, she has a PhD in science communication and is a researcher at the Centre for Pacific Health at the University of Otago. Overkill was shortlisted for the 2019 CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger Award and she is a three-time finalist for the Ngaio Marsh Award for Best Crime Novel for her critically acclaimed Sam Shephard series. Vanda produces and hosts ‘Write On’, a monthly radio show focusing on the world of books at Otago Access Radio. When she isn’t working or writing, Vanda can be found in the garden, or on the business end of a fencing foil.

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