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Face Blind    by Lance Hawvermale order for
Face Blind
by Lance Hawvermale
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2016 (2016)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Lance Hawvermale's Face Blind blends mystery and horror with elements of fantasy - and be warned, it has explicit descriptions of torture. The story is set in northern Chile's Atacama desert, where no rain has fallen in four hundred years. The desert has been filled with ghost towns, since the saltpeter mining bust.

Protagonist Gabe Traylin, a doctoral candidate, works as an astronomer in an observatory. Gabe is a most unusual lead. He's face blind, that is he is unable to tell individuals apart - and, complicating matters throughout the story - he keeps his disability secret from all around him.

Smoking outside one evening, Gabe spots a moving man, follows him, and sees him being shot. But after he reports it, the body disappears. Gabe becomes obsessed and convinces a colleague to help him search the desert. They find a small boy's mutilated corpse. Who had done this and why? Gabe becomes obsessed with finding out.

As this develops, readers are introduced to Mira and her engaging twin brother Luke, arriving in Santiago. Luke has Down's syndrome and is severely dyslexic. They are on a quest to find Benjamin Cable, the author of a book that Luke can miraculously read. Turns out that Cable has had writer's block, but partnership with Luke gets him writing again - and helps Luke too.

Cable's brother is working on a research project in the Atacama, so they fly out there. Of course, their paths cross with Gabe's as more mutilated bodies are discovered, and a monstrous killer tracks all of them. On the run, they fight to stay alive. They gradually uncover what's behind it all - horrific atrocities in Pinochet's regime - and attraction grows between Gabe and Mira.

If you're looking for a most unusual mystery and can handle Dexter-style blood and gore, this might well be up your alley. I found it very odd, but especially enjoyed everyone's interactions with Luke and the development of his story.

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