Category: Political Thriller, Murder, Suspense, Book Review
There are two men on their way to Brussels from the UK: Neil Bannerman, an iconoclastic journalist for Scotland’s Daily Standard whose irate editor wants him out of the way, and Kale–a professional assassin.
Originally written in 1981 the story is set in the winter of 1979 and is a story of its time, encompassing the culture, attitudes and politics of the era and highlighting the lack of technology which makes information sharing a lengthier process. We take mobile phones and the internet so much for granted, it’s an interesting reminder of how things were accomplished back in the day. Peter May has painted an atmospheric picture with well defined characters and a dark thread running through the narrative.
Controversial Scottish reporter Neil Bannerman is sent to Brussels, ostensibly to cover the developments following the European Union, but also because his new editor wants him out of the way while he decides what to do with him. Although Bannerman is a good reporter, he isn’t a team player. He’s on the lookout for any scurrilous stories he can dig up. He’s a complex protagonist, with issues from his past impacting on his present life and choices.
Also travelling to Belgium is Kale, a hired assassin and a man hardened byhis experiences to the extent he has no feelings of guilt or remorse about what he is being paid to do.
Two anonymous faces. Two men whom Kale would kill. There would, he knew,be no satisfaction in it, but neither would there be conscience or remorse. For Kale was the complete killer: cold, efficient, deadly. A man who showed no mercy, a quality he reserved for no one, including himself.
It’s been arranged for Bannerman to stay with Tim Slater, another reporter based in Belgium who lives with his young autistic daughter, Tania. Bannerman hasn’t been in Belgium any length of time before there is a double murder—Slater along with a British Cabinet Minister are shot and killed, the murder witnessed by Tania. The powers that be claim they shot each other but Bannerman has serious doubts, based on Inspector du Maurier’s considerations and a drawing by Tania, showing a man with no face where the murder took place.
The Man With No Face is a political thriller with clandestine intrigue and conspiracies, suspense, murder and just the merest hint of a romance. As Bannerman slowly unearths information surrounding the murdered men, he has no idea of the danger he’s putting himself in as his investigation gains momentum. The edges of his world-weary cynicism are being systematically worn away by the feelings awakened in him by Tania’s carer and his anxiety over Tania herself. This secondary thread of Bannerman’s connection with Tania, and her characterisation, is very well done. Much less was known about autism and the treatments available weren’t particularly helpful at the time of this story. It’s obvious the condition has been well researched.
Peter May always brings his characters and settings to life with detailed, colourful, easy to read and engaging writing.
I chose to read and review The Man With No Face based on a digital copy kindly supplied by NetGalley and the publisher.
Peter May’s books have sold several million copies worldwide and have won awards in the UK, the USA, and France. He is the author of the internationally best-selling Lewis Trilogy set in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland • the China Thrillers, featuring Beijing detective Li Yan and American forensic pathologist Margaret Campbell
• the critically-acclaimed Enzo Files, featuring Scottish forensic scientist Enzo MacLeod, which is set in France
• several standalone novels including – the multi award-winning Entry Island, – Runaway, and his latest, entitled – Coffin Road, which sees a return to the Outer Hebrides (January 2016, Quercus UK).
– I’ll Keep You Safe (January 2018, riverrun)
He has also had a successful career as a television writer, creator, and producer.
One of Scotland’s most prolific and successful television dramatists, he garnered more than 1000 credits in 15 years as scriptwriter and script editor on prime-time British television drama.
He is the creator of three major television drama series and presided over two of the high- est-rated drama serials in his homeland before quitting television to return to his first love, writing novels.