“Fast-moving…engrossing…Sidney Sheldon is a master at giving the public what it wants.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
One of Sidney Sheldon’s biggest strengths was always ‘Simplicity’ and this one is the perfect testament to that signature style. We see so many unsuccessful attempts at writing a ‘Psychological Thriller’ by so many authors simply because of the reason that they tend to over complicate things. ‘The Naked Face’ is such a taut, edge of the seat psychological thriller with minimalistic details that I thought it’s James Patterson who’s writing it instead of Sidney Sheldon.
I was admitted in a hospital (forcefully for a trivial reason; I’m absolutely fine) for a day with absolutely nothing to do and without the Novel I’m currently reading (The Pillars of the Earth). Luckily, I saw some old novels lying somewhere and desperately started searching for something which I’ll be able to finish in a few hours and found the perfect one in ‘The Naked Face’.
The protagonist is a Psychoanalyst (not psychologist or psychiatrist) named Judd Stevens who has a host of interesting clients/patients with a variety of problems ranging from mild anxiety to full blown paranoia. He’s an eligible widower whose charm makes almost all his patients (male and female both) fall for him at some point of time but he’s professional enough to restrain himself (surprisingly for a Sheldon protagonist) from getting involved with any of them. Then a series of murders, of people known to him cause his peaceful world to come crashing down all at once. There are attempts on his life too(as per him) but the detective duo assigned to the case actually believe there’s a good chance that the master Psychoanalyst is putting up a show and committing them himself. Stevens is himself unsure whether he’s being hunted by a psychotic killer or if he’s imagining things. He uses his skills to not only analyse all his patients/suspects but himself too. He also hires a private detective who comes across as a sheer genius but with a possibility that maybe he’s playing a game of his own.
The plot keeps you guessing as to who is right and who is wrong and who ultimately is orchestrating the entire gruesome murders. At times, you’ll feel you have it all sorted out only to be amazed by another twist in the next chapter. His pen picture or rather a mental identity-kit of the faceless killer after making educated deductions are one of the high points of the novel giving a kind of a Sherlock feel.
The climax is exciting although very Hollywoodesque. The best part is that the Novel never drags on and not a single extra word is used making it one of the best psychological thrillers I’ve ever read.
Added 4th August 2017