Angel Face
by Suzanne Forster, contemporary (2001)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-18097-2


Eh. Suzanne Forster's Angel Face could have been so wonderful. By Chapter Two, I thought this would be one of those dark, lovely tales about moody obsessions. Instead, this story turns out to be the mother of all Gideon knots to untangle.

It's about - I think - a brilliant surgeon, Dr Jordan Carpenter, who is told by the CIA (or are they really the CIA?) that he is the next target of a female serial killer called Angel Face (or is she really?). Meanwhile, a traumatized Angela Lowe is desperately trying to suppress her memories (or are they memories?) of violence involving doctors. Is she Angel Face? Is her shrink evil?

Now, I like puzzling. You should see me all worked up over that movie Memento, I even took notes after the second viewing. But you won't see me taking notes to unravel the mess that is Angel Face. Memento and other convoluted stories I've enjoyed all share one thing in common - they have characters that grow on me enough that I care enough to want to try to make sense of their stories. Not so in Angel Face. I have no idea what makes Angela Lowe tick, she is more often than not in some perpetual emotional hysteria. Likewise, Jordan is like a marble statue - he says he's obsessed, but he's too distant, too emotionless to make any impact on me. I just don't care about him or Angela. Ms Forster attempts to create a love story out of irrational obsessions, but I find it hard to muster any enthusiasm to go along the ride.

The author seems more interested in creating confusing, haphazard paragraphs that dangle red herrings everywhere. I still have no idea how the villain turns out to be the villain, or how this Angel Face can seem to do anything that can put the Bionic Woman to shame. Like breaking into places and kill people and then disappear unseen in the blink of an eye. Or being where the hero just happens to be, wow. Can she fly? How about walk on water, now that would be so cool? To add to the confusion, add in character motivations that just don't make sense. Or even better, add in characters that appear out of nowhere and then proceed to have their back stories told, as if I care about these characters just because they're there. What is going on here?

I think the author wants to create a story about lust and obsession. Instead, she only creates something that serves as a morality tale. Always make sure your mind is clear and you are sober before trying to write a complex mystery story. (Obligatory lawsuit defusement statement: I'm not saying Ms Forster is under the influence when she is writing Angel Face, but egads, I would suspect more than one person would get all the wrong impressions when reading this mess of a story.)

Rating: 46


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