Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Face of a Killer-Robin Burcell

The Face of a Killer
Robin Burcell
Poisoned Pen, Nov 2008, $24.95
ISBN 9781590583746

Two decades ago the police arrested Johnnie Wheeler in the killing of the father of Sydney Fitzpatrick; he was convicted and now after twenty years on death row he is to be executed. Sydney, over the objections of her concerned family members, joined the FBI as a forensic artist.

Her boss Supervisory Special Agent Dixon asks her to come in on a day off that’s he planned to drink away because of the state execution. He needs her to coax a description of a perp out of reticent battered victim Tara Brown, who was raped and left to die. Sydney succeeds, but the vivid drawing of the rapist looks like a twin of Wheeler. Sydney decides to visit Wheeler to ask him why; she informs her outraged mom and stepfather, who want Wheeler dead so they can obtain some closure. After meeting Wheeler at San Quentin, Sydney begins to doubt he is her father’s killer and starts to consider the Brown rapist as the predator who murdered her dad. She begins to make inquiries and with the help of her doubting partner Carillo finds clues that lead to a political-CIA connection that places her family in danger.

This is an exhilarating police procedural with the focus on forensic drawing. The story line is action packed but driven by Sydney’s need to know the truth about her dad’s murder. Although the conspiracy seems a bit over the Sierras, fans will appreciate Robin Burcell’s strong suspense tale as the heroines draws THE FACE OF A KILLER.

Harriet Klausner