I’ve been reading (and enjoying!) more dark and gritty tales with suspense and psychological play. Is it a reflection of the cold dark winter, my changing tastes, or simply a willingness – like Mikey in those old Life cereal commercials – to “try it, you’ll like it!”?
Here’s a novel that’s out today (January 17, 2012; HarperCollins/William Morrow), The Face Thief by Eli Gottlieb, author of The Boy Who Went Away and Now You See Him. Even the titles conjure up something mysterious and sinister, don’t they?
A bit about the protagonist, from the jacket flap:
Gottlieb introduces the mystery of the charismatic Margot, a promising journalist who morphs—with stunning panache—from a high-achieving affluent twentysomething into a grifter making her living preying on the weaknesses of men. Having studied the ancient Chinese art of face reading, she becomes an expert at reading people and is also able to rearrange her look and persona with uncanny skill to fit any social situation. She is an avenging angel, shattering marriages and draining bank accounts.
In this excerpt, her mentor gives her some last minute advice before her fourth lesson, the one is which she’s sent to the streets, his “live laboratory,” to assess passersby (p. 48):
“… And here’s a little bit of neurolinguistic programming for background. Most people in the world are right-handed. When right-handers are creating an image in their minds, their eyes generally look up to the right … But if they’re recalling something they’ve heard, like an old song, they look to the left and tilt their head as if listening. If they are remembering a feeling, like say a physical sensation or an emotion, they look down and to the right. People talking silently to themselves also look down to the left. It’s like a compass rose of a sort.”
Now, raise your hand if you’re going to be completely paranoid the next time you’re put on the spot with a question. Will you be thinking about the direction in which your eyes are focusing, the tilt of your head, and other clues your body is signaling? Yes, I will be, too.
Margot sounds like a real con artist, cold and calculating. She has her finger on the emotions of her victims, while not giving away the slightest peak at her own feelings. Is she someone you’d like to get to know through this novel?