The Man with No Face by Peter May is set mainly in Paris in 1979. A jaded journalist travels to Europe to try and find details for a story about high level corruption. He meets with shadier colleagues and also with diplomats. The situation escalates when two people are assassinated and our journalist develops a link with the only witness – a child who is autistic.
This is a fast-paced thriller with people trying to protect the child, find the assassin and avoid becoming a target themselves. Part of the story is told from the viewpoint of the journalist, some from the assassin himself and some from the child. Added together the three viewpoints help to keep the pace tense up to the very end. The author doesn’t seem to have a high opinion of journalists or of diplomats and the majority of the people in this book are evil or at least definitely not what the general reader would describe as good.
The depiction of the child with autism is interesting but doesn’t ring entirely true to me – I am not quite sure why except that in her own thoughts seems to be more mature than I would expect a child of that age to be and to have a greater understanding of what is going on than I would anticipate. It doesn’t spoil the book at all and it is always good to have a person with a disability represented in a mainstream novel.
This book is mostly about redemption. The journalist has to take responsibility not only for bringing to light what has happened but for protecting innocents drawn into the situation. He begins to use his long ignored moral sense and conscience and grows as a person during the course of the narrative.
This is not a great book. I say this because the author’s Black House trilogy consists of much more textured and literary crime novels and they are great books (in my opinion). This novel is not at the same level but it is still enjoyable. It is a recently revised and reissued book from earlier in the author’s career. If you like a quick read with lots of action then I think that you will enjoy this one.