Sometimes, there’s just one nagging thing that ruins a book for me. That’s not the case with Suzanne Forster’s latest romantic suspense novel, Angel Face. In this book, everything is bad. There is nothing, not one thing that I can recommend about it.
Noted heart surgeon Jordan Carpenter is visited by a strange man with the word VILLAIN stamped on his forehead. Well, that’s not true about his forehead, but he does have disfiguring scars all over his face, his behavior is a bit suspicious. The scarred man claims to be a CIA agent who needs Jordan’s help. He says that a beautiful female serial killer called Angel Face is murdering doctors with their own defibrillator paddles, and that Jordan is her next target. (She also holds secrets vital to national security, which is why the CIA is involved, in case you were wondering.) Jordan, incredibly, believes him.
Next we meet Angela Lowe. She works for a company that has designed a software called Angel Face, which models and predicts the violent behaviors of serial killers. Angela is involved in an experiment monitoring the brain impulses of several unknown people. She has sensual fantasies about one of the subjects of the experiment, known to her only as Alpha Ten. She also has large gaps in her memory and is prone to violent fantasies and hallucinations.
Is Angela a serial killer? Is Jordan Alpha Ten? Will she kill him? Will he kill her? Or is it possible that they’re both pawns in an incredibly complex and fiendish scheme designed by the scarred man for his own nefarious purposes?
Forster doesn’t obey the “show, don’t tell” rule very well. She prefers the “pound readers over the head with emphatic description” rule. For instance, my favorite sentence in the book is this: “She was a murdering, slaughtering killer.” Similarly, the author can’t just tell us that Angela is attractive. Angela has “blackberry brandy tresses” (brown?) and “misty meadowlark eyes” (I couldn’t say what color this might be, but I assume, from other slightly more helpful descriptions, that her eyes too are brown). “She was as soaringly lovely as the sun peeking through the clouds.” Oh, and “her energy seemed to come directly from some celestial source, like the sun or the stars.” Lest the reader forget that Angela is very beautiful, we are told that Angela’s looks astonish and enslave every man who sees her. Jordan’s brain turns to mush when he looks at her photograph, even though he believes her to be a “murdering, slaughtering killer.”
The suspense plot is ludicrous. The crimes the villain vaingloriously confesses to at the end made my jaw drop in stunned disbelief. Worse, the romance is horrid. Jordan believes Angela is a serial killer, as I mentioned. She flees because she thinks Jordan is part of a plot to kill her. He hunts her to Mexico, traps her, and plans to turn her over to the bad guy. She clubs him with a shovel, ties him up, and tortures him with starvation and sexual desire. But then she suddenly contracts a convenient unnamed jungle fever and falls into his power, and he gets loose and ties her up and … Well, you get the idea. When these people leave Mexico perhaps twelve hours later, they’re in love, and I was in need of a hefty dose of Pepto Bismol.
I hated everything about this book. The big things, like the plot. The small things, like sentences that make no sense: “She knows she’s just fantasizing, but her brain doesn’t.” (Say that again?) I hated the manipulative methods the author uses to build suspense, like the way Angela remembers how to interrogate prisoners and face down wild jaguars, but doesn’t remember whether or not she’s a mass murderer. It’s hard to muster up a lot of hatred for characters as contrived as Angela and Jordan, but I’m a bit peeved with the Berkeley Publishing Group for allowing this book to see print.
Forster’s books have received good reviews from us in the past. I suggest you find one of those and read it, because Angel Face is awful.