Source: ARC copy via the publisher
A REPORTER WITH NO FEAR
Jaded Edinburgh journalist Neil Bannerman is sent to Brussels, intent on digging up dirt. Yet it is danger he discovers, when two British men are found murdered.
A CHILD WITH NO FATHER
One victim is a journalist, the other a Cabinet Minister: the double-assassination witnessed by the former’s autistic daughter. This girl recalls every detail about her father’s killer – except for one.
THE MAN WITH NO FACE
With the city rocked by the tragedy, Bannerman is compelled to follow his instincts. He is now fighting to expose a murderous conspiracy, protect a helpless child, and unmask a remorseless killer.
The book was originally released in 1981 under the title Hidden Faces but re-released this year as The Man With No Face
As a huge fan of Peter May, I was delighted to be asked to read and review this book by the publisher via Agnes Rowe from Midas Publications.
Right from the beginning we’re drawn into the murky and mysterious world of hired assassin Kale, a former military veteran. Blindfold, he’s driven to a remote location and given his assignment brief. He has to kill two people and make it not look like murder by an outsider.
The novel’s main protagonist is Neil Bannerman, an experienced, well respected and rather jaundiced investigative reporter who works for the Edinburgh Post. The 1979 general election in the U.K. is imminent. A new editor at the Post, Tait, a Scot but fresh up from Fleet Street and all fired up for making changes in personnel at the Post, fires some of the reporters on the newspaper. He sends Bannerman to Brussels out of the way before deciding on his future. The two had previously clashed, but Tait admires Bannerman’s skills and wants him to find out if there’s any EU post election trouble, corruption, fraud, and any other interesting story in Brussels. Given the fact that the European Community was a factor in the manifesto for political parties in the 1979 general election.
Bannerman is expected to stay in the apartment of Tony Slater, the EEC correspondent at the Post. Slater lives with his autistic daughter Tania who hates change and can be averse to new people appearing in her life. Sally, a home help, part nanny for Tania also lives in the apartment. Bannerman forms quite a paternal bond with Tania which is reciprocated when she accepts him. He’s attracted to Sally and it appears to be mutual. Tania is a gifted artist and can sketch intricate details of people and places from her apparently photographic memory.
Slater inadvertently reveals a collection of cuttings about the British Europe minister Gryffe he has hidden in his home to Bannerman but refuses to explain his interest.
When Slater and the minister Robert Gryffe are found dead in the home of the minister, Tania is also at the scene, inconsolable and traumatised. She is then placed in a psychological institution for counselling and treatment. Tania is able to draw from memory a man she saw hiding in the house and leaving the scene but does not include his face. The deaths, initially appearing to be the killing of each other, are recognised by the Brussels police and security forces as being the work of an outsider.
Bannerman is close to discovering the links between Slater and Gryffe which may lead him to discover both what exactly they were both up to and who was behind their murder.
With political intrigue, fraud and double dealings at the forefront of this thriller, the lives of both Bannerman and Tania are at risk as they both become another target for Kale who needs to silence them both to cover up his own tracks and those of the people who hired him.
Given the complete and utter shambles of Brexit, the ongoing EU situation in Brussels is a topical subject at the moment, so going back to 1979 is both nostalgic and pertinent to today’s situation. The United Kingdom joined the European Union on 1 January 1973, becoming the ninth member state to do so. I remember it but not all the finer details so as a reminder
The European Parliament increases its influence in EU affairs and in 1979 all citizens can, for the first time, elect their members directly. From The History Of The European Union
Political thrillers are not usually my thing but the story kept me interested until the end.
I wasn’t very keen on the character of Bannerman at first. He came across as sexist and a bit of a dinosaur with his 1970’s attitudes towards women, as he would do in this glimpse of the past, but his saving grace for me was his tenderness and understanding of Tania. Tania herself was for me the most interesting character in the novel. Kale, the assassin, described as ‘mean faced’ was a bit of a cliche, with his military background and abusive childhood but there’s more to him than initially appears which adds to the intrigue.
I didn’t miss the use of technology, mobile phones and suchlike. Bannerman relies purely on his investigative skills and contacts to discover the true facts of the case. It’s refreshing to read a novel now set in a time period prior to the digital age.
All in all, an interesting read, a good solid thriller.
The author’s descriptive prose is second to none, which explains his huge popularity as an author but this was not one of my favourite Peter May books, although perhaps there are future books planned with Bannerman, the investigative reporter. There is scope and much to investigate in the last few decades of the 20th century and if that happened, I would definitely like to read them.
About The Author
Peter May was born and raised in Scotland. He was an journalist at the age of twenty-one and a published novelist at twenty-six. When his first book was adapted as a major drama series for the BCC, he quit journalism. Over the next fifteen years, he became one of Scotland’s most successful television dramatists before deciding to leave television to return to his first love, writing novels.
Follow the rest of the blog tour