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…
A stand-alone novel from Vanda Symon certainly peaked my interest and it was apparent from the first page Symon would include all the hallmarks of her usual thriller content but with added extras.
I loved that she told the story using the voices of her characters, that we knew who the perpetrator was, could see their emotions, their fears.
Billy 18 years old, lived on the streets, her talent as a graffiti artist the one thing that gave her focus. Yet she was vulnerable, turned to prostitution when she needed paints for her art, skillfully dodged the pimps that wanted her for themselves. Ultimately it was her downfall, an unwilling victim to a selfish, under pressure man who wanted nothing more than to express his suppressed power over a woman.
Billy was Max’s only friend, the guardian angel who sat on his shoulder, prodded him into a modicum of life, of wanting to look after himself. It was her guardianship that thrust Max back into real life, to finally facing up to the past, to taking back control and reconnecting with family and work mates.
And what about our perpetrator Bradley? Married with a young family, a domineering wife who just wanted to fix things and a manager who piled on the work, the threat of dismissal ever present. Symon brilliantly portrayed a man who just wanted to dare himself, to prove he wasn’t just a whipping boy for his wife, evolved him into a monster, his mind and reasoning twisted to justify his actions.
As Bradley actions intensified so did those of Max as he raced to find Billy, Symon forced him to reconnect with family, with old colleagues. She slowly thrust the old Max back to the fore, his story one that showed a desperate, guilt ridden man having to confront his fears, to see a light that could lead back to a life of normality away from the streets of Auckland.
As Max desperately searched, it was Symon’s harrowing descriptions of Billy’s ordeal that grabbed your emotions, your anger as you screamed at the page for the torture to stop. As her plight became more desperate you admired her resolve, discovered her own traumatic back story before Symon hurtled you into the heart stopping final few pages.
Faceless may have been a crime novel but it also asked a question, raised a few thoughts through its title, Faceless. The faceless are those we see living on the streets, the ones that we tip toe around, see the ragged clothes, the uncleanliness, the card board boxes, the women who prostitute themselves in order to survive. Do we ever stop to think what put them there? Did we ever consider their past circumstances some much like Billy and Max? Maybe next time we should stop and think and like Symon look behind the faceless.
I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Faceless to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.
About the author
Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series, which includes Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound, hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award. Overkill was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.
Twitter @vandasymon, Instagram @vanda-symon, Facebook, @vandasymonauthor, http://www.vandasymon.com.