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Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

The Vanishing Point is due out Sept. 2.  I'm still debating what I thought about it.  Having read quite a few of her novels and watched the BBC series Wire in the Blood (which is pretty dark), I usually enjoy  McDermid's work, but this novel had a couple of things that bothered me.

I didn't like the way the story was told, but found the story itself intriguing.  When Stephanie Harker's young ward is snatched at an airport, she is devastated.  Detained in a glass inspection box because a pin in her leg set off the metal detector, Stephanie is able to see the man walk off with Jimmy, but is unable to get out and prevent it.  Her response is immediate and forceful, but when she is able to get out of the inspection box, airport security personnel, unaware of the abduction, attempt to subdue her and eventually Taser her.

Later, after it is clear that young Jimmy has been abducted, but after the kidnapper has already made a clean get away, Stephanie tells her story to the FBI agent on the case.

The detail of Stephanie's life leading up to her guardianship as related to the FBI agent doesn't work for me.  I wish another way to tell the story had been used because I just couldn't make a couple of hundred book pages fit into a few hours of relating the story orally.

The story itself, however, is engrossing.  Stephanie, a ghost writer, agreed to ghost the story of Scarlet Higgins, a rather infamous reality show star.  During this period, Stephanie comes to realize that Scarlet has a long-range plan for financial success and is by no means the bimbo she projects to the media.  A friendship forms and grows throughout Scarlet's pregnancy and the first few years of young Jimmy's life.  When Scarlet succumbs to a second bout of cancer, Stephanie is named as Jimmy's guardian.

Stephanie's distress over losing Jimmy is palpable, and when all leads have been exhausted in the U.S., Stephanie returns to England and continues searching for clues that might lead to finding Jimmy alive.

The final shocking twist is another bothersome detail for me, as it seems so out of character.

So...while I found the story itself intriguing, the framing of so much of the story as an oral recounting to the FBI agent and the final twist were drawbacks for me.

The ARC was an e-book from Net Galley and Atlantic Monthly Press.

Fiction. Mystery.  Sept., 2012.  Print version 416 pages.

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