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The Face of Death

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In Shadow Man, Cody McFadyen took the suspense thriller where other writers have feared to tread. He introduced readers to a heroine every bit as dark and edgy as the serial killers she hunts: Special Agent Smoky Barrett. Now, in his latest novel, McFadyen brings Agent Barrett back to track down a killer who breaks all the rules. Get ready for a shattering confrontation wi In Shadow Man, Cody McFadyen took the suspense thriller where other writers have feared to tread. He introduced readers to a heroine every bit as dark and edgy as the serial killers she hunts: Special Agent Smoky Barrett. Now, in his latest novel, McFadyen brings Agent Barrett back to track down a killer who breaks all the rules. Get ready for a shattering confrontation with the very essence of human evil. I want to talk to Smoky Barrett or I'll kill myself. The girl is sixteen, at the scene of a grisly triple homicide, and has a gun to her head. She claims The Stranger killed her adoptive family, that he's been following her all her life, killing everyone she ever loved, and that no one believes her. No one has. Until now. Special Agent Smoky Barrett is head of the violent crimes unit in Los Angeles, the part of the FBI reserved for tracking down the worst of the worst. Her team has been handpicked from among the nations elite law enforcement specialists and they are as obsessed and relentless as the psychos they hunt; they'll have to be to deal with this case. For another vicious double homicide reveals a killer embarked on a dark crusade of trauma and death: an artist who's molding sixteen-year-old Sarah into the perfect victim - and the ultimate weapon. But Smoky Barrett has another, more personal reason for catching The Stranger - an adopted daughter and a new life that are worth protecting at any cost. This time Smoky is going to have to put it all on the line. Because The Stranger is all too real, all too close, and all too relentless. And when he finally shows his face, if she,s not ready to confront her worst fear, Smoky won,t have time to do anything but die.


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In Shadow Man, Cody McFadyen took the suspense thriller where other writers have feared to tread. He introduced readers to a heroine every bit as dark and edgy as the serial killers she hunts: Special Agent Smoky Barrett. Now, in his latest novel, McFadyen brings Agent Barrett back to track down a killer who breaks all the rules. Get ready for a shattering confrontation wi In Shadow Man, Cody McFadyen took the suspense thriller where other writers have feared to tread. He introduced readers to a heroine every bit as dark and edgy as the serial killers she hunts: Special Agent Smoky Barrett. Now, in his latest novel, McFadyen brings Agent Barrett back to track down a killer who breaks all the rules. Get ready for a shattering confrontation with the very essence of human evil. I want to talk to Smoky Barrett or I'll kill myself. The girl is sixteen, at the scene of a grisly triple homicide, and has a gun to her head. She claims The Stranger killed her adoptive family, that he's been following her all her life, killing everyone she ever loved, and that no one believes her. No one has. Until now. Special Agent Smoky Barrett is head of the violent crimes unit in Los Angeles, the part of the FBI reserved for tracking down the worst of the worst. Her team has been handpicked from among the nations elite law enforcement specialists and they are as obsessed and relentless as the psychos they hunt; they'll have to be to deal with this case. For another vicious double homicide reveals a killer embarked on a dark crusade of trauma and death: an artist who's molding sixteen-year-old Sarah into the perfect victim - and the ultimate weapon. But Smoky Barrett has another, more personal reason for catching The Stranger - an adopted daughter and a new life that are worth protecting at any cost. This time Smoky is going to have to put it all on the line. Because The Stranger is all too real, all too close, and all too relentless. And when he finally shows his face, if she,s not ready to confront her worst fear, Smoky won,t have time to do anything but die.

30 review for The Face of Death

  1. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    A man Sarah calls The Stranger took control of her life on her sixth birthday. Now Sarah is 16 years old, sitting in the middle of a horrific crime scene, again. She holds a gun to her head and says she will talk to only FBI Agent Smoky Barrett. No one believed her last time, but she's going to make damn sure someone believes her this time. Smoky's team from the first book is here, except for Leo. Perhaps he saw "too much" on the last case. Callie and Alan are like old friends, and James remains A man Sarah calls The Stranger took control of her life on her sixth birthday. Now Sarah is 16 years old, sitting in the middle of a horrific crime scene, again. She holds a gun to her head and says she will talk to only FBI Agent Smoky Barrett. No one believed her last time, but she's going to make damn sure someone believes her this time. Smoky's team from the first book is here, except for Leo. Perhaps he saw "too much" on the last case. Callie and Alan are like old friends, and James remains an enigma. Kirby is new, and after Leo’s apparent exit, I wonder if she will stick around in the next book. This book is no less gruesome than the first. The author sure knows how to pull me in emotionally. Unlike the first book, a couple of heartstrings were pulled in this one as Sarah tells her story. The author also knows how to create some really sick characters, and the one in this book is seriously crazy. How McFadyen can write beautiful, loving scenes in the middle of despicable human acts is a wonder to me. The fight between good and evil continues, will always continue. I hope it’s not driving the author mad. On to book #3.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    The Face Of Death is the second book in the Smoky Barrett series. I had read book one on high recommendation so thought it was high time that I undertook book two. Time has moved on since the last book and Smoky is now faced with a new challenge. (Gotta say, I'm still struggling with the name .... but hey ho!). We know from the blurb that a sixteen year old girl asks for Smoky at a crime scene. It's not clear initially what has gone on, is the girl a killer or a victim? But as the book progresse The Face Of Death is the second book in the Smoky Barrett series. I had read book one on high recommendation so thought it was high time that I undertook book two. Time has moved on since the last book and Smoky is now faced with a new challenge. (Gotta say, I'm still struggling with the name .... but hey ho!). We know from the blurb that a sixteen year old girl asks for Smoky at a crime scene. It's not clear initially what has gone on, is the girl a killer or a victim? But as the book progresses all becomes clear. In this instance it's difficult to talk about plot line without giving too much away. What is clear, however, that this is an exciting rollercoaster thrills and spills with gruesome touches of a read. It doesn't hold back at times on the gruesome factor and I actually found it quite chilling in places; senses alarminghly heightened when reading in the dead of night. Here I'm going to admit to turning on an extra light as I was feverishly turning from right to left. My bravery levels are impressive! I was glad to see that there was less character background as all that had been fleshed out in the previous and it really focused more on storytelling. There is no doubt that McFadyen writes extraordinarily well with much interweaving and never really giving anything away until near the end. It's more of a FBI procedural that's done very well giving us information on the requisite agencies and databases used. Smoky's story too moves on and we get to see where her adopted daughter, Bonnie, is now. I just love her, a real favourite character of mine. The Face Of Death really is a heart stopping, not for the fainthearted, thrilling read that never lets up until the very last page. I enjoyed it hugely (when I was able to breathe that is!) and went straight onto book three in the series. Yeah, I know, I'm a sucker for a good book!!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mauoijenn

    Another great Barrett book in this awesome series. I enjoyed this fast read but felt it wasn't as good as the others in the series. Hope the rest ate better. Another great Barrett book in this awesome series. I enjoyed this fast read but felt it wasn't as good as the others in the series. Hope the rest ate better.

  4. 5 out of 5

    2ReadingBulgarians

    Sick. Sick. Sick. But I loved it. I liked this one a little bit more than the first one, but this one was really messed up. Also, absurdly correct about all the violence and sh*tstorms that people can face. Wet still, it will be a long time until I decide to read the next one. I need something “happy” now.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amanda McGill

    For full review - The Limit of Books Does Not Exist This is a book that will not be for everyone. This is a book that is scary and horrible and upsetting. I’m a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers and there were nights that I couldn’t read this novel before I went to sleep because I didn’t want to go to sleep upset. It’s a tough, tough read. The first thing that I loved about the novel (and the series) is the cast of characters. Each character is flawed and scarred both physically and mentally. Pu For full review - The Limit of Books Does Not Exist This is a book that will not be for everyone. This is a book that is scary and horrible and upsetting. I’m a huge fan of mysteries and thrillers and there were nights that I couldn’t read this novel before I went to sleep because I didn’t want to go to sleep upset. It’s a tough, tough read. The first thing that I loved about the novel (and the series) is the cast of characters. Each character is flawed and scarred both physically and mentally. Put everyone together and you have a team that won’t let anyone hurt one of their own and will protect one another to the death. I loved it. I also really enjoyed the mystery and how Sarah’s diary came into play with solving the mystery. It was really hard to read about what Sarah went through, but it was also really important to understand where her mind was at when she meet Smoky. So my husband read the novel before I did (he loved it) and he mentioned that I would probably tear up at the end of the novel. We were commuting home on the train and he saw that I was approaching the end of the book. He watched my face completely crumble during the last paragraph and I sobbed like a baby. Face of Death just pulled at all of my emotions and I loved it when a novel does that to you. I would recommend this novel (and series) to those that enjoy dark thrillers. Make sure to start the series from the beginning since there are spoilers from book 1 (Shadow Man) that are in book 2.

  6. 5 out of 5

    ✨Susan✨

    A psychopath is after FBI Special Agent Smokey Barrett and he is using innocent people to get to her. Sarah is a young girl who has been haunted her whole life by a man who has chosen to kill everyone she becomes remotely attached to. At his most recent killing of the family she had been fostering with, Sarah is found unharmed but despondent and keeps asking for Smokey. In the past atrocities the authorities have not believed Sarah about what had happened because of her young age and over whelmi A psychopath is after FBI Special Agent Smokey Barrett and he is using innocent people to get to her. Sarah is a young girl who has been haunted her whole life by a man who has chosen to kill everyone she becomes remotely attached to. At his most recent killing of the family she had been fostering with, Sarah is found unharmed but despondent and keeps asking for Smokey. In the past atrocities the authorities have not believed Sarah about what had happened because of her young age and over whelming evidence, however, this time it is very evident that the killer wants to change that. Sarah has been composing a diary of her horrendous life and it is up to Smokey's crack team to read between the lines before it is too late for other innocents. I am getting more attached to the characters of Smokeys eclectic team, they each have very specific strengths that are vital in helping her to solve her cases. Looking forward to our buddy read of book three.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Dear reader, They say you should beware of strangers, and oddly enough,this statement has never been more true or pertinent than in this tale!! Avenging past wrongs,the Stranger,an evil and sadistic serial killer,seems to have targeted sixteen year old child Sarah Langstrom for no apparent reason. Found covered in blood,and threatening suicide,in the front garden of her foster parents' home,we wonder what Sarah has done that necessitated her witnessing the macabre slaying of her latest foster fam Dear reader, They say you should beware of strangers, and oddly enough,this statement has never been more true or pertinent than in this tale!! Avenging past wrongs,the Stranger,an evil and sadistic serial killer,seems to have targeted sixteen year old child Sarah Langstrom for no apparent reason. Found covered in blood,and threatening suicide,in the front garden of her foster parents' home,we wonder what Sarah has done that necessitated her witnessing the macabre slaying of her latest foster family,and why Smoky is the person she demands to speak to in this,her hour of need? Sarah,forced to watch the heinous deaths of her parents as a young innocent six year old child,a survivor of not only several foster homes but also the state run home for children yet to be fostered,seems to lose everyone that has ever loved her or endeavoured to help her and the question that begs to be answered is 'why?' Tasked with discovering the facts is none other than Smoky and her team members Callie,Alan and James. I must admit to loving this team of clever, perceptive,hardworking people,who,while not blood related,are always there for each other. Their backstories add an essential element of realism to the tale as although trying their best to trace this practically invisible killer,they must also deal with their own troubles,health worries and day to day woes. This was an utterly compelling story,which I raced through. I was totally engaged from the very start as I just couldn't figure out the killer's motivation,or their identity. This being a second book in the Smoky B. series,I very much appreciated the author reminding us of the past histories of the key characters. Overall,this was a fantastic journey into a depraved killer's desire for revenge and the quest to destroy his plan before it reached its ultimate conclusion. Highly recommended for all Smoky and crime lover fans!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mary Beth

    I loved loved loved it! Not for the faint of heart. Review to come shortly.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Shelby *trains flying monkeys*

    Great book. I read it when we were in the woods camping and that wasn't the smartest choice. Not for the faint of heart but so engrossing. Smokey is a wonderful character and I look forward to reading more about her. Great book. I read it when we were in the woods camping and that wasn't the smartest choice. Not for the faint of heart but so engrossing. Smokey is a wonderful character and I look forward to reading more about her.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The Face of Death is book 2 in Cory McFadyen’s Smoky Barrett series. Last month I read book 1, Shadow Man, and declared nothing could possibly beat it for my book of the year. I was wrong. The Face of Death is even better. It now holds the honor of my favorite thriller book ever. Where to start? I do not want to give any of the story away, so for a brief outline of the plot, please see the blurb. Cory McFadyen is unlike any other author I have come across. This is a police procedural, plus so mu The Face of Death is book 2 in Cory McFadyen’s Smoky Barrett series. Last month I read book 1, Shadow Man, and declared nothing could possibly beat it for my book of the year. I was wrong. The Face of Death is even better. It now holds the honor of my favorite thriller book ever. Where to start? I do not want to give any of the story away, so for a brief outline of the plot, please see the blurb. Cory McFadyen is unlike any other author I have come across. This is a police procedural, plus so much more. The plot is deliciously complex and involves dark and grievous transgressions with deep religious undertones, human trafficking, and more importantly, the destruction and salvation of human souls. The depth of Mr. McFadyen’s storytelling is highly unusual, especially since he is a he. The characters are so real and evoked an incredible emotional response in me. My emotions were all over the place with this one. I felt love, hate, rage, tension, shock, empathy, sympathy, sadness, heartache, and joy. I cried at the end of each of the last 2 chapters. The characters are so well drawn that I am sure many of them will stick in my mind for years to come. A significant portion of the story is told through the diary of a young girl (Sarah) from the time she was 6 through age 16. This works really well and is a brilliant plot device in my opinion. We watch as Sarah goes from a happy love-filled early childhood to a well-plotted “ruined life”, trying her very best not to lose all hope. I really don’t have the words to express how well her story is told. A couple of warnings: There is a brief though shocking allusion to animal abuse; fortunately, we are not subjected to the actual deed. There are also some horrendously abominable acts of murder that are not for the faint of heart. With the above caveats, I cannot recommend this novel and the Smoky Barrett series more highly. It has now clearly become my favorite series of all time. Thriller fans, don’t let these books pass you by. Special thanks to my book buddy Jan for reading this series with me and adding another layer of joy to the experience.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tim Warner

    I am completely impressed with Cody McFadyen. He is a creative writer. I know that the genre of serial killers is kind of a strange thing to enjoy reading, and that there could be a formulaic banality or redundancy. So it is even more satisfying to see someone attempt and succeed at rising above the mediocre and run of the mill thriller. This is his second book and it is brilliant, compelling (I finished it within three days), surprising, deep, rich and intense. There are aspects of the story whi I am completely impressed with Cody McFadyen. He is a creative writer. I know that the genre of serial killers is kind of a strange thing to enjoy reading, and that there could be a formulaic banality or redundancy. So it is even more satisfying to see someone attempt and succeed at rising above the mediocre and run of the mill thriller. This is his second book and it is brilliant, compelling (I finished it within three days), surprising, deep, rich and intense. There are aspects of the story which made me ask," how did he (Mcfadyen) think of that or come up with that?" The question is not so much what goes on the mind of a serial killer, but rather what goes on the mind of someone who is writing a novel depicting the evil and darkness of this kind of criminal. The story at times was so gruesome that I had to take a break. And the abyss of despair into which the perpetrator hurled his victim(s) is sometimes too much to take. I had to stop a few times, but came back and read it nearly straight through once I finished the first third. I won't recommend this for anyone who is too squeamish about terror and evil. One other thing. I normally reject books written in the first person present tense. It bother me usually. But for some reason, this style with Smokey telling the story has never grated on me. And I normally don't like women as the leader in homicide investigations. But Smokey is captivating and bright, as well as emotionally vulnerable. I can think of no negative criticism for eithe3r of the first two books written by Cody McFadyen. They are superb. I already have the next one checked out from the library...

  12. 5 out of 5

    Debby

    I've never read anything by Cody MdFadyen before. WOW!! In my opinion, he is right up there with Harlan Coben, Dennis Lehane, Ridley Pearson to name a few. I'm generally turned off by boks and movites that have gratuitous violance/blood and guts in them that isn't supported by a great plot and character depth. This book was intriguing to me from the beginning. The antagonist in this book really was evil personified and I think that is what captivated me, to be honest. To see how evil works in a I've never read anything by Cody MdFadyen before. WOW!! In my opinion, he is right up there with Harlan Coben, Dennis Lehane, Ridley Pearson to name a few. I'm generally turned off by boks and movites that have gratuitous violance/blood and guts in them that isn't supported by a great plot and character depth. This book was intriguing to me from the beginning. The antagonist in this book really was evil personified and I think that is what captivated me, to be honest. To see how evil works in a life to bring total destruction to themselves and anything they touch. This is not a book for the faint of heart or general mystery enthusiast. But, if you're up for a good thriller/horror book, this could be a good one for you.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    Oh my, definitely not for the faint of heart and most definitely a heart wrenching book - wow, kleenix alert. Getting more use to first person writing, Smoky Barrett is a very likable and real character (to me), that Cody has managed to portray with ease. The only fault I find with the book, is that Mr. McFadyen was more verbose in this book than the first one. Yes the storyline was a bit complex and woven with lots of suspense, some action, and still a question of who is the psycho behind all the Oh my, definitely not for the faint of heart and most definitely a heart wrenching book - wow, kleenix alert. Getting more use to first person writing, Smoky Barrett is a very likable and real character (to me), that Cody has managed to portray with ease. The only fault I find with the book, is that Mr. McFadyen was more verbose in this book than the first one. Yes the storyline was a bit complex and woven with lots of suspense, some action, and still a question of who is the psycho behind all these atrocities. Very difficult subject matter, but still a bit too wordy - could have been shortened a bit, but I still liked this book. Two thumbs up - not for everyone to read, seriously.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Genius, brilliant, powerful and engaging---This series is a MUST read for all suspense junkies! You know that sad feeling you get when the book you are completely engrossed in is finally over and you have to get back to the real world? You're going to feel this with this book, but multiply that feeling times 10. I have to admit that part of this feeling goes to the fact that I am reading this series with my favorite book buddy Christine. We both put our super sleuth hats on and dug in. It wasn't l Genius, brilliant, powerful and engaging---This series is a MUST read for all suspense junkies! You know that sad feeling you get when the book you are completely engrossed in is finally over and you have to get back to the real world? You're going to feel this with this book, but multiply that feeling times 10. I have to admit that part of this feeling goes to the fact that I am reading this series with my favorite book buddy Christine. We both put our super sleuth hats on and dug in. It wasn't long before we were knee deep with questions and theories and observations-oh my! So. Much. Fun! McFadyen likes to drop hints and clues along the way (or are they?) and trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together really kept us on our toes, not to mention completely engaged from start to finish. About the book: This is part 2 of a police procedural series starring Smokey Barrett, scarred and emotionally damaged after a mad man killed her husband and daughter. And because that wasn't enough for one person to go through, she has to live knowing the death of her best friend was at her expense...but silver linings can be found throughout. Her best friend's daughter Bonnie is placed with her, and these 2 broken birds somehow find a way to help each other heal. (The relationship between these 2 is written so beautifully, you have to question how this could have been written by the male gender. No offense to all the guys out there, but...) I'm not going to go any further into the details of the book-it is just too intricate for me to do it any justice. It really is something that you need to read...to experience. As mentioned in my review of Shadow Man, McFadyen once again is a master at creating such amazing characters. They each have their own unique qualities that you love, or love to hate. Another aspect of his writing style that I adore is his ability to create tension...quite a few times I would start a chapter and my heart would sink, anticipating what was coming next. And last-the biggest surprise to me still is McFadyen's ability to write such emotionally charged scenes-ones that will make you cry, or at least bring out a few sniffles. How this man can make me FEEL is something no author has ever been able to do to me. To be able to write such dark and disturbing characters and murder scenes, then turn around and give the reader hope, happiness and love it a true talent. So-have you figured out that I really liked this book? Do it-go get this series. (If you can't find them at your library, my buddy and I bought ours for cheap on the Amazon used book section) And if you can, grab a buddy along for the ride. You will thank me later, I promise!!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Keri

    Smokey was thinking that she and Bonnie would take a vacation and try to let the horror of the past couple of weeks fade a bit. But before she can even take a deep breath, she gets a call from a murder scene where a teenage girl has a gun pointed at her own head and is going to pull the trigger unless Smokey comes and talks to her. So of course Smokey has no choice, as she arrives on scene she finds 3 people dead and the girl almost comatose in shock. Once she finally gets the girl to start talk Smokey was thinking that she and Bonnie would take a vacation and try to let the horror of the past couple of weeks fade a bit. But before she can even take a deep breath, she gets a call from a murder scene where a teenage girl has a gun pointed at her own head and is going to pull the trigger unless Smokey comes and talks to her. So of course Smokey has no choice, as she arrives on scene she finds 3 people dead and the girl almost comatose in shock. Once she finally gets the girl to start talking, Smokey can hardly believe her ears as the girls makes claims that a stranger has been stalking and killing those close to her since she was 5 years old. The dead turn out to be the girl’s foster parents and their son. Once Smokey starts checking the facts, she discovers that the girl may be telling the truth. As Smokey gathers a four person team, an elite until of the FBI strictly brought together to investigate and catch serial killers, to start down the path where the dark train goes. Things aren’t as cut and dried as they appear. Now Smokey is in a race to stop evil its tracks and stop a girl determined to put herself beyond the grasp of evil forever. This was a very hard book to read, the content and what one human being can do to another was gut-wrenching at times, but CM is such a good writer that he sucks you in and won’t turn you loose until the very last word. I love Smokey and her team and love how they face evil on a daily basis without flinching or turning away to take the easy way off the Dark Train. If you haven’t read this series before I would start with the first one, as you really need to know Smokey’s background and where she came from to see how she arrived here.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Antonija

    This book is going to haunt me for years to come. This was mind boggling and tense. My friend borrowed me this book and just said read it but she had a devious spark in her eyes and I was kind of scared to start it. It is gruesome at some points. The quantity of life alternating and scary sh** that has happened in this book is enormous. It definitely leaves you thinking whether you're safe walking in broad daylight. I can't say the book was fast paced, it was somewhere between moderate and fast- This book is going to haunt me for years to come. This was mind boggling and tense. My friend borrowed me this book and just said read it but she had a devious spark in her eyes and I was kind of scared to start it. It is gruesome at some points. The quantity of life alternating and scary sh** that has happened in this book is enormous. It definitely leaves you thinking whether you're safe walking in broad daylight. I can't say the book was fast paced, it was somewhere between moderate and fast-paced. It was all lined up pretty neatly and the writing style sat well with me.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Calliss

    This book is just like the 1st in the series.. Excellent story, some "gory" details (if you are a fan of Chris Carter, they are very similar like that) And AGAIN the only reason why I dont give it a 5 star rating is because of the "I" writing, were Smokey just "know", thats kind of over the top. But if you are a fan of crime with details, dont cheat yourself, read this :D This book is just like the 1st in the series.. Excellent story, some "gory" details (if you are a fan of Chris Carter, they are very similar like that) And AGAIN the only reason why I dont give it a 5 star rating is because of the "I" writing, were Smokey just "know", thats kind of over the top. But if you are a fan of crime with details, dont cheat yourself, read this :D

  18. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    With just a few pages to go, I have found the most believable characters to be the two labrador retrievers who make a brief appearance.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bekki

    OUSTANDING SEQUEL!!!! With Smoky's first person narrative & Sarah's creepy, eerie diary excerpts, add in a great cast of characters, and this thriller is not your average serial killer norm! Blew my mind away....AGAIN! This was another fast paced page turner....Cody McFadyen is absolutely brilliant! Like Shadow Man, this story gripped me from the get go and the ending was as shocking as it was tragic. This was a graphic, troubling story....but Smoky is a classic spunky heroine with a first rate tea OUSTANDING SEQUEL!!!! With Smoky's first person narrative & Sarah's creepy, eerie diary excerpts, add in a great cast of characters, and this thriller is not your average serial killer norm! Blew my mind away....AGAIN! This was another fast paced page turner....Cody McFadyen is absolutely brilliant! Like Shadow Man, this story gripped me from the get go and the ending was as shocking as it was tragic. This was a graphic, troubling story....but Smoky is a classic spunky heroine with a first rate team....they are all well thought out and realistic! This is the best crime thriller series I have read in a long time!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Maddy

    PROTAGONIST: Smoky Barrett, FBI special agent SETTING: LA SERIES: #2 of 2 RATING: 1.5 How do you go on after everyone that you love has been brutally murdered and you yourself viciously attacked and scarred? Smoky Barrett, special agent for the FBI, is struggling to put her life back together after the deaths of her daughter, husband and best friend. The one ray of light in her life is her best friend's daughter, Bonnie, who she is raising as her own. Since Smoky has a gift for putting herself in th PROTAGONIST: Smoky Barrett, FBI special agent SETTING: LA SERIES: #2 of 2 RATING: 1.5 How do you go on after everyone that you love has been brutally murdered and you yourself viciously attacked and scarred? Smoky Barrett, special agent for the FBI, is struggling to put her life back together after the deaths of her daughter, husband and best friend. The one ray of light in her life is her best friend's daughter, Bonnie, who she is raising as her own. Since Smoky has a gift for putting herself in the minds of the killers that she is investigating, she always has her foot in the dark side, so to speak. Smoky is called to the scene of a terrible murder by 16-year-old Sarah Kingsley, who has been living in the home of the victims as a foster child. Since Sarah first read about Smoky's experience, she has felt that she would be someone she can trust. So she decides to reveal her life story to Smoky, both through interviews and a diary she's been keeping for 10 years. You see, Sarah has been the target of a psychopath since she was six years old, a man who kills everyone and everything that she has ever loved. She's witnessed her own beloved parents' murder; her dog was beheaded; and anyone that she has cared for has become a victim of this maniac. My feelings about this book fluctuated wildly as I was reading. The family and friend relationships for both Sarah and Smoky were cloyingly sweet and mawkish, such perfection in the people around them! Several sections of the narrative were devoted to Sarah's diary, and the writing was very inconsistent. At times, the style was "Surfer Chick"; while other portions were far too literate and articulate for a girl of Sarah's age. The scenes involving the Despicable Villain had me on the verge of giving up entirely. The only thing that kept me reading the book were the police procedural sections, which were very well done. The real downfall in this book was that the premise on which it was based was so unbelievable. As an avid crime fiction reader, I applaud inventiveness on the part of an author. However, McFadyen created a scenario that was so completely implausible that I was thrown out of the book. Why would a man select a 6-year-old girl and decide that he was going to remove every bit of happiness from her life for years? Yes, there were explanations provided in the book, but they didn't ring true at all. For over 10 years, he has been killing or hurting anyone that Sarah has cared about, kidnapped and tortured them and even forced her to commit horrendous acts on others. I could never buy into the fact that he could make her slice up and disembowel people who had been good to her just so that she could stay alive. At that point, she didn't value her own life at all. I didn't want to spend time in the villain's head, and I didn't want to see what horrible things he had done to other people. The feel-good ending didn't make me feel good at all. I highly recommend that you give this one a pass.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I borrowed this book from a friend -- I didn't realize until after I'd started it that it was the middle book of a trilogy. So if you choose to read...don't start with this one. I will say, though, that this book affected me so greatly I won't be reading the others. How's that for a recommendation? It was very well-written. While some of the character motivations and reactions felt somewhat implausible to me in the canvass of real life, the way those characters dealt with their implausibility lef I borrowed this book from a friend -- I didn't realize until after I'd started it that it was the middle book of a trilogy. So if you choose to read...don't start with this one. I will say, though, that this book affected me so greatly I won't be reading the others. How's that for a recommendation? It was very well-written. While some of the character motivations and reactions felt somewhat implausible to me in the canvass of real life, the way those characters dealt with their implausibility left little room for critique and I found myself just going with it. However, the subject matter and the no-holes-barred way the author covered death and darkness and the horrible evil that lies within some people actually physically hurt to read. I almost didn't finish after I got a look at the background of the main character, but then, in what could be considered an amusing moment of truth, I needed a book to read at an appointment that would fit in my purse, so I grabbed this one. I read the last 300 pages or so last night -- mainly because I was too afraid of the images that would dance behind my eyes if I stopped reading at any one point before the end. There is so much...awfulness in this book. So much tragic death. I don't want to imagine that it's real; I like living in my world where a dead bolt and an automatic garage door is the only thing separating my family from the potential evil out there. "We're okay. We've always been okay. They won't get us." But this book terrified me with possibility and I've fallen victim to watching too many 'true crime' stories to know that the events depicted in this story -- events of home invasion, of rape, of disfigurement, of a wife being forced to kill her husband and herself while her child watched, of a mother shooting her attacker and killing her child instead, of a child tied to the dead body of her mother for three days -- could be true. I didn't read about the author to find out if he'd done his research. I didn't need to know that much truth. He crafted the events in such a way that I was reading a train wreck. I didn't so much care about the characters as I just had to know what happened. I was numb to death before I'd read the first 100 pages; he could have killed his main character and I wouldn't have been surprised. In the end, the case was solved in five days' time, but it felt as if I and the characters had lived for fifty years with this blood and torture and pain. The tragic stories twisted me up and had me in tears. I woke up in the early hours of this morning and climbed in bed with my daughter just to smell her life. And as soon as we can afford it, I'm investing in a bigger determent for people getting in to us. Because the real villian in this story, as with so many of the stories of the atrocities one human visits up on another, wasn't the killer. It wasn't even his childhood torturer. It was evil. And the thing that really scares me is how close to the surface it is for so many people.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ivana S.

    Wow! This was both exciting and terrifying. I was hooked after first crime scene description – it was so well done that I was scared (which doesn't happen a lot to me when I read similar books). That's why I just couldn't put this one down. I really like Smoky. Her own tragedy makes her even better at what she does and I could actually feel her melancholy, her fear, her fight. Her relationship with Bonnie, (her adopted daughter who refuses to talk) is beautiful, full of love and empathy. They un Wow! This was both exciting and terrifying. I was hooked after first crime scene description – it was so well done that I was scared (which doesn't happen a lot to me when I read similar books). That's why I just couldn't put this one down. I really like Smoky. Her own tragedy makes her even better at what she does and I could actually feel her melancholy, her fear, her fight. Her relationship with Bonnie, (her adopted daughter who refuses to talk) is beautiful, full of love and empathy. They understand each other so well - it is a thin, but strong thread of hope for both of them. Smoky is so strong and smart, and what moved me the most about her – she keeps fighting. Every day. She fights everything and everyone and she survives. For herself. For Bonnie. And now for Sarah. Sarah has a story to tell. Her story is ugly, scary, almost unbelievable. But it's true. Ever since she was six, Stranger keeps showing up in her life and destroys everyone she ever loved. He killed her parents and their family dog, he killed people who wanted to adopt her, he killed every person in her life she ever loved. The trouble is, no one believes her. Until Smoky. Sarah gives her diary which contains her tragic life, and what is written inside makes Smoky and her team desperate to catch Stranger and keep him out of Sarah's life forever. Stranger truly is The Face of Death. He is so cruel and violent that it's scary to read about him, but at the same time, it's hard to stop. All of his actions were pure horror. His own story was a horror, but what he did to Sarah was indescribable. This is one of those books that are not easy to forget. Somehow, this was not just another serial killer story. Because of the way it's written, it seems real. Characters are well developed and each has his own story, which is pretty interesting. Investigation is more than interesting, and crimes are truly terrifying. In short, this is one really good crime/suspense/mystery/horror book. 5 stars from me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Eve

    The Face of Death by Cody McFadyen Series: Smoky Barrett, book #2 Thriller / Mystery / Suspense I did not like this one and skipped a lot. There was too much violence, blood, cruelty and gruesome details, it was not possible to enjoy the storyline and the characters.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    Special Agent Smoky Barrett, head of the FBI's Violent Crimes Unit in Los Angeles, takes a few weeks vacation to go through her dead husband's belongings plus her daughter's room as well as think about whether or not she wants to accept a teaching job at Quantico. The time is quickly cut short as she's called to a triple murder scene where a 16 year old girl Sarah is holding a gun to her own head and refusing to speak to anyone except Smoky. Sarah tells Smoky a man called The Stranger killed her Special Agent Smoky Barrett, head of the FBI's Violent Crimes Unit in Los Angeles, takes a few weeks vacation to go through her dead husband's belongings plus her daughter's room as well as think about whether or not she wants to accept a teaching job at Quantico. The time is quickly cut short as she's called to a triple murder scene where a 16 year old girl Sarah is holding a gun to her own head and refusing to speak to anyone except Smoky. Sarah tells Smoky a man called The Stranger killed her foster parents and brother now, and 10 years earlier, he killed her biological parents. Sarah says no one believed her then and she feels Smoky is the only one who might believe her and try to catch the killer. Smoky understands and does believe. The hunt for a brutal serial killer has begun. Cody McFadyen's books carry a real emotional impact. The serial killers he creates are quite depraved and love to eviscerate victims. His descriptions of the tortures that the victims endure is detailed and extreme. Smoky's supporting cast - Callie, Alan, and James -- are all in this book but not in as much detail as Shadow Man. Much of the book is devoted to Sarah and the hardships she has endured since The Stranger began destroying her life. We're introduced to a new kickass character, Kirby, who is a great addition and I hope we see more of her in future books. Now, I'm on to the next novel in this great series!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Peter

    Review of "The Face of Death" (German: "Der Todeskünstler") In Cody McFadyen's second novel protagonist Smoky Barrett is starting to slowly regain a grip on her personal life. During the process of removing some of the personal belongings of her deceased husband and daughter Smoky is being called to a crime scene. This in itself would not be too unusual, were it not for the fact the sole suvivor of the crime is asking to speak to Smoky in person. As it turns out that same survivor is as 16 years ol Review of "The Face of Death" (German: "Der Todeskünstler") In Cody McFadyen's second novel protagonist Smoky Barrett is starting to slowly regain a grip on her personal life. During the process of removing some of the personal belongings of her deceased husband and daughter Smoky is being called to a crime scene. This in itself would not be too unusual, were it not for the fact the sole suvivor of the crime is asking to speak to Smoky in person. As it turns out that same survivor is as 16 years old Sarah, a girl who confesses to Smoky that the stranger killer who killed her foster parents now, has killed anyone and anything that Sarah ever cared about since her 6th birthday now. Smoky's hunt for the killer is on. As with the previous (and first) novel of the Smoky Barrett series, "Shadow Man", and read it front to back in just about a week's time. I felt hard pressed rating this one, because for one I enjoyed reading it quite a bit but at the same time some gut feeling made me subtract a single star from my final verdict. Hopefully by the end of reading this review my decision will make more sense to you. I am going to assume that you have read the prequel novel of the series already - if you have not, go do that. Short of the computer science specialist that temporarily was part of Smoky's team all of the other characters on the investigator's side , including still chosing to be a mute foster-daughter of Smoky's, Bonnie, make a reappearance. The aftermath of the previous case is noticable in the way said characters behave now, which was a huge plus for me - it is clearly not only Smoky's character development thast the author focuses on. Indeed Smoky herself seemed to have come a long way of getting back to actually living her life again which makes me happy for the character of Smoky, but the book also loses one of the major draws for me that way. Smoky's constant emotional turmoil, even outright freakishness in the prequel is not such a pivotal aspect of this story anymore. Instead the author chose to involve the reader with the mind and fear of crime victim Sarah in what I found to be a quite fitting and eloquent way. The main "body" of the story is still presented from Smoky's point of view, as a classic first person point of view novel. However, about one third into the book there are longer passages of third-person narration when Smoky reads Sarah's diary. I found this particular writing style very effective to perceive and "feel" how Smoky manages to delve into Sarah's mindset, and consequently into the killer's mindset as well. Also, this time, unlike with "Shadow Man", I could not put a finger on who the killer is up until the very end - which was also refreshing since I felt like on the edge of my chair all the time. The gruesomeness is not as graphic this time either which to some readers may be a big plus. Instead, I found, the author focues much more on the emotional and spiritual scarring that takes place due to the crimes albeit I personally did not feel AS compassionate towards the victim as I did towards Smoky herself. The sense of urgency that was present in the prequel also is not quite there this time. You certainly do not want any more murders to happen as the ramifications of such are very obvious and very horrifying. However, since another possible murder would not have a direct impact on the safety of Smoky's team there was not as much of a nail-chewing atmosphere. The killer himself and his motivations were a curious and twisted thing and the further the story went on and more and more of the killer's background was revealed I had a (swiftly twindling) phase of sympathy towards the killer. I like it when a killer is not protrayed as a pure and simple ultimate evil, but instead has some light shed onto his/her progression into said ultimate evilness. The excellent and somewhat clever conclusion of the novel (that is including Bonnie!) also works in favour of that. Now, what are the reasons to merely give 4 out of 5 stars for "The Face of Death"? That which made the prequel "Shadow Man" such a huge draw, namely protagonist Smoky Barrett's inner turmoil and fears, was not as much of a prominent theme any longer. The sense of urgency and very personal endangerment of Smoky's crew was not to be found in this book anymore either. As such the pacing suffered very slightly. On the plus side we get to experience a very mysterious storyline that features two distinct narrative styles that blend nicely together and we get to learn how the monster of a killer featured in the book is actually "made".

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brookers

    I loved Shadow Man, the book prior to this one. I thought that it was one of the best thrillers I've ever read. Sure, there was some cheesy villian dialogue. The characters were great, though, especially main character, agent Smoky Barrett. I rushed to the library to pick up The Face of Death before I finished Shadow Man, so that I could go right into it. Imagine my disappointment when I read this. I wanted to like it, I really did. Unfortunately, second time is not a charm for Cody McFayden. Mc I loved Shadow Man, the book prior to this one. I thought that it was one of the best thrillers I've ever read. Sure, there was some cheesy villian dialogue. The characters were great, though, especially main character, agent Smoky Barrett. I rushed to the library to pick up The Face of Death before I finished Shadow Man, so that I could go right into it. Imagine my disappointment when I read this. I wanted to like it, I really did. Unfortunately, second time is not a charm for Cody McFayden. McFayden clearly felt the need to push the shock factor for this sequel, and it was a detriment to the novel. He definitely created some truly shocking torture/murder scenarios. I actually had to skip parts of the scenes because they were so disturbing, but also because they were just plain gratuitious and unnecessary. Overall, I was okay with the novel. Not blown away by any stretch of the imagination, but I thought it was okay. That was before I got to the ending. I'll keep this review spoiler-free, but I expected better than a Scooby-Doo ending. I half expected the villian(s) to bust out, "And I would have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for you meddling kids." Yes, it's that bad. After following the team of incredibly smart and gifted agents, I was disappointed that McFayden didn't have more faith in the characters he created. The big reveal comes around in a truly stupid, forehead-slapping moment. I hope the series continues because the characters are so likeable and so interesting to follow. I just hope that McFayden can redeem the series and recapture what made Shadow Man so great.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cyn

    Wow - this book was just ... wow. It's the 2nd novel in the Smoky Barrett series and it's better than the first. Far better, imo. Not that the first one was bad, but there were a couple annoyances that made me knock a star off the review (such as repeated use of the phrase 'honey love' that about made my head explode in the first book). However, Cody McFadyen has fixed the issues I had with #1 and outdid himself with The Face of Death. It's not your normal serial-killer-crime story. It's so much Wow - this book was just ... wow. It's the 2nd novel in the Smoky Barrett series and it's better than the first. Far better, imo. Not that the first one was bad, but there were a couple annoyances that made me knock a star off the review (such as repeated use of the phrase 'honey love' that about made my head explode in the first book). However, Cody McFadyen has fixed the issues I had with #1 and outdid himself with The Face of Death. It's not your normal serial-killer-crime story. It's so much more than that and I don't know how to put it into words just how touching some parts of this book were. Oddly, the most moving scenes also happened to be the most horrifying - one scene, moreso than others. I've never read a death scenario so terrible and yet so emotional and heart-wrenching at the same time. You'll know what I'm talking about when you get there. Highly recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rose

    This is part 2 of Shadow Man and yet another grisly case for Smokey Barrett. This is one of the darkest books I've ever read and just when you think it couldn't get darker....it does. I cried during this one. Excellent writing, took me right into the story right away. Love it. But read with caution. This is part 2 of Shadow Man and yet another grisly case for Smokey Barrett. This is one of the darkest books I've ever read and just when you think it couldn't get darker....it does. I cried during this one. Excellent writing, took me right into the story right away. Love it. But read with caution.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Michelle, the Bookshelf Stalker Queen of the Undead

    Liked it better than book 1 even. Something about this series, the writing and the characters that makes me keep reading.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nicola Burns

    Another brilliant book in the Detective Smoky Series. It is so descriptive and menacing.

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