New York Times bestselling author John Saul is a master at writing novels that chill the bones, curdle the blood, and tap into our darkest fears. He creates characters so real that you'll feel as if they're friends or family, and throws them into situations so terrifying that you won't be able to look away until you turn the final page. Now, in Faces of Fear, Saul proves that there's a fine line between perfection and madness.
Fifteen-year-old Alison Shaw may not be beautiful, but she doesn't really care: She'd much rather read a good book than primp in front of a mirror anyway. But Alison's gorgeous mother, Risa, knows that beauty can be a key to success and wishes only the best for her daughter, especially when Risa marries a widowed plastic surgeon and moves Alison from Santa Monica to Bel Air. Beauty may be only skin deep, but to the denizens of Bel Air it means the world. Everywhere mother and daughter look, they are surrounded by beautiful people, many of whom have benefited from the skills of Alison's new stepfather, the charismatic Peter Dunn. Peter is certain he can turn Alison into a vision of loveliness, and Risa-drawn in by his cool confidence-is delighted. Reluctantly, Alison agrees to undergo the first procedure, and her transformation begins.
But soon Alison discovers a picture of Peter's first wife. To Alison's horror, she notices a resemblance between the image in the photo and the work her stepfather is doing on her. Though Risa refuses to acknowledge the strange similarity, Alison becomes increasingly frightened. Digging further into her stepfather's murky past, Alison uncovers dark secrets-and even darker motives-and realizes that her worst fears are fast becoming her reality.
Beverly Hills plastic surgeon Conrad Dunn has put his talents to work making his wife, Margot, the embodiment of physical perfection, but after her face is scarred in a boating accident, Margot takes her own life in this less than suspenseful thriller from bestseller Saul (The Devil's Labyrinth). Remarrying within a year, Dunn persuades his new teenage stepdaughter, Alison Shaw, who's struggling to adjust to life in the Dunn mansion and to a private school with a ridiculously affluent student body, to undergo breast-enhancement surgery. Meanwhile, the police are searching frantically for the Frankenstein Killer, a serial slayer who removes his female victims' glands as well as more obvious body parts. The motive for the killings and the eventual outcome will surprise few readers. The basic premise has a plot hole big enough to fit a truck, but Saul fans may not notice or care if they do. (Aug.) ""
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Showing 1-1 of the 1 most recent reviews
1 . Made my Skin Crawl!! Extraordinarily Creepy!
Posted September 26, 2009 by Bobby , Littleton, COAbsolutely enthralling!! This was the creepiest story that I have ever read. It literally made my skin crawl. I think that the biggest reason is that the main storyline is something that absolutely can happen in real life, which is unlike many stories in the genre where the emphasis is on the supernatural in one way shape or form.
August 11, 2008
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Excerpt from Faces of Fear by John Saul
Alison Shaw felt good. Really good. She made the final turn around the smooth cinder track with long, easy strides. She'd done six full laps, but with the cool breeze coming in from the beach four blocks away, there wasn't even a hint of the choking exhaust that usually drifted directly from the Santa Monica Freeway onto the playing fields. She felt she could do at least three more laps when she heard the coach's whistle. End of period; end of day; end of week. A shower, and she could go home. She slowed her pace so Cindy Kearns could catch up with her.
"There's a party at the beach tonight," Cindy said, catching her breath and wiping more perspiration from her forehead than was on Alison's entire body. "Jeff Simmons is going to be there." Cindy was pretty sure Alison had a crush on Jeff, but if she did, she wasn't showing it. In fact, she was shrugging like she couldn't care less.
"Can't," Alison said. "My mom has to go to some fancy banquet for one of her clients tonight and I'm fixing dinner for my dad."
"How domestic of you," Cindy said. "What about after dinner? It won't even get dark until after eight, and it could go until mid- night."
Alison rolled her eyes. "And Jeff Simmons will bring a keg of beer, and everybody will get drunk, and the cops will come, and then we'll all have to call our folks to come get us. Gee, it sounds like so much fun, how can I resist?"
Cindy decided to ignore her sarcasm. "So if you don't want him, can I have Jeff Simmons?"
Alison glared at her best friend in not-quite-mock exasperation. Ever since she'd turned fifteen last month, all Cindy seemed to think about was boys--as if some kind of switch had been turned on. "I barely even know Jeff," she said. "And I'm sure he's no more interested in me than any of the other boys are, which means not at all, which is fine with me. Besides, even if I wanted to go, my dad's bringing home a movie. So add Jeff to your list of conquests, and call me with all the details tomorrow."
Once again Cindy ignored Alison's tone, and pushed through the double doors into the girls' locker room, which was even warmer than the air outside, and muggy from the showers that were already going full blast. Cindy quickly stripped off her sweaty gym clothes and dropped them in a dank pile on the floor.
Alison had just shed her shorts when Coach DiBenedetti walked through the locker room, a bra dangling from her fingers. "Lost and found," she announced. "Who left a bra under the bench?"
Paula Steen, one of a half-dozen seniors in the class, snickered. "Well, we know it's not Alison Shaw's," she called out, eliciting exactly the laugh she was looking for from her friends.
Seeing Cindy open her mouth to take a shot at Paula, Alison spoke first. "Is it a training bra?" she called out to the coach, loud enough for everyone to hear. " 'Cause if it isn't, Paula's right--can't possibly be mine." When even Paula's friends giggled, she decided to push it a little further. "I'm still looking for the pretraining model!"
The coach smiled at Alison. "You're just a late bloomer," she said. "And the last blossoms are often the best of the season."
In the silence that followed, it seemed to Alison that everyone was staring at her.
"You've got a model's body," Cindy Kearns put in a second before the silence would have gotten awkward. "In fact," she said, turning to stare straight at Paula Steen, "you've got exactly the body Paula's always wanted."
"But she doesn't have the face I have, does she?" Paula shot back, tucking her own gym clothes into her backpack.
"I'll see you in my office, Paula," the coach said, sternly.
"It's okay," Alison said, suddenly wishing she'd just kept her mouth shut. "Really."
"It's not okay," Marti DiBenedetti said. "My office, Paula."
Paula glowered at Alison. If she was already in trouble, she figured, she might as well get the absolutely last word. "The longer you stay a little girl, the less competition for the rest of us," Paula sneered as she hefted her backpack and followed the coach to her office. "Only gay boys like bodies like yours!"
"Just ignore her," Cindy said as Paula disappeared around a corner.
"Ignore what?" Alison countered, forcing a tone far lighter than she was feeling. She undressed quickly, still smarting from Paula's ridicule, and self-consciously wrapped herself in the skimpy gym towel. "I don't know what's so great about big boobs anyway. I'll either get them or I won't--it's not like I have anything to do with it." She followed Cindy to the cavernous shower room, which was empty except for Gina Tucci, who was leisurely washing her hair at the farthest showerhead.
And who was Paula Steen's best friend.
Alison hung her towel on a hook, braced herself for whatever Gina might say, and stepped under a showerhead. She rinsed off quickly, then wrapped the towel around herself again before returning to her locker. Gina was still washing her hair. Maybe everyone wasn't staring at her after all.
She was almost dressed when Cindy came back from the shower. Alison tucked her blouse into her jeans and buckled her belt, then sat on the bench brushing her hair while Cindy dressed and rummaged in her backpack. Then, using the mirror she'd affixed to the inside of her locker door, Cindy erased smudges of mascara around her eyes and carefully applied dark pink lipstick.
"Want to get a Coke?" Alison asked her.
"Can't. My mom's picking me up."
"What about tomorrow?"
"Call me," Cindy said, picking up her backpack. "I'll give you the full report on tonight."
Then Cindy was gone and Alison was alone in the locker room. She stuffed her dirty gym clothes into a plastic bag and shoved them into her backpack, then caught glimpse of herself in one of the mirrors on the locker room wall. Rising to her feet and carrying her backpack with her, she moved closer to the mirror and took a look at herself.
And what she saw wasn't bad. In fact, she looked fine. She didn't need a lot of makeup, and she didn't need pounds of hips, and breasts, either. And she sure didn't need to compete for one of those idiot boys who Paula--and even Cindy--seemed to think were so hot. So what was she worried about? Paula and all the other girls like her could have all the boobs and all the boys, if that was what they wanted.
She looked just fine, and felt good.
And she knew she'd keep telling herself that until the sting of Paula's comments wore off and she once again truly felt as good as she had half an hour ago, when she'd come off the track.