Mystery / Suspense

The Vanished Man
A Lincoln Rhyme Novel

Written by: Jeffery Deaver

Published By: Pocket Books - A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Reviewed by Melissa Minners



           Jeffery Deaver is an amazing suspense novel writer with an impressive rťsumť.  Deaver has a law degree from Fordham University of New York, which doubtlessly is very useful when writing novels of such caliber.  Having written under two names, Jeffery Deaver and William Jefferies, the author has amassed an impressive novel list.  Equally impressive are the five Edgar Award nominations, the Anthony Award nomination, and the three Ellery Queen Readerís Awards for Best Short Story of the year.  Both The Bone Collector and Maidenís Grave were adapted into movie format and The Devilís Teardrop, The Blue Nowhere, Manhattan Is My Beat, and Praying for Sleep have all been optioned for movie production.

            The Vanished Man is a continuation of Deaverís Lincoln Rhyme series.  Readers first met the quadriplegic forensic expert Lincoln Rhyme in The Bone Collector.  Once the head of a top notch criminal investigations unit in New York, Rhyme suffered a near fatal accident that left him paralyzed from the neck down with limited use of his left ring finger.  At first, all Rhyme can think of is that his career is over and that his life might as well be.  He is prepared to end it all when he is approached by an old friend, Detective Lon Sellito, who requests Rhymeís forensic expertise in finding a serial killer intent on leaving behind clues.  With the help of Patrol Officer Amelia Sachs and forensics lab technician Mel Cooper, Rhyme is able to track down the killer and end his reign of terror.  Along the way, he learns that he can still assist law enforcement and, having found new meaning to his life, he decides to try his hand at living.

            In The Vanished Man, Rhyme is still tracking down serial killers.  This one is a talented magician, well-versed in sleight of hand, misdirection, quick change, escapism, mentalism and more.  There are two back stories to this novel.  Amelia Sachs, now a more intimate part of Rhymeís life, has applied for a promotion to Sergeant.  This back story later comes to the forefront when Ameliaís attempt to protect a crime scene sparks off a war with a well-connected politician intent on seeing her suspended.  Lincolnís assistance is also needed in protecting the life of District Attorney Charles Grady, whose high profile case against a local militia group leader has saddled him with a death threat.

As always, there are several twists and turns in this novel.  Sometimes so many that things are hard to keep track of.  The fact that the killer can look and act like anyone makes things even more suspenseful.  It puts the characters on edge, because they quite literally have no idea what kind of person to look for. 

            Deaver always manages to bring back the more intriguing people Lincoln has met along the way and The Vanished Man is no exception.  We are treated to appearances by Sellito and Cooper, as well as FBI Agent Frank Dellray, NYPD Detective Roland Bell, Lincolnís assistant Thom, and Detectives Bedding and Saul.  Deaver introduces a new and intriguing character in Kara, a magicianís apprentice with aspirations to become a full-fledged magician, whose expertise in the field becomes invaluable to solving the case.  The banter between Rhyme and Sachs is as enjoyable as it was in the very first book of the series.  Things have gotten more serious between the two and more than once they how empty life would be like for one without the other.

            The idea of a magician as the serial killer is an intriguing concept.  Though it is not new, Deaver finds a way to make it seem new to the reader, completely embroiling them in all the twists and turns in the novel.  Perhaps the only complaint could be that there are far too many twists and turns.  Just when one feels they have the case solved, something happens to completely nullify their solution.  It becomes infuriating when the motives of the crime spree become apparent, then switch to something else, and then go back to the first idea.  A positive side to this is that the reader is completely in tune with the frustrations of Lincoln Rhyme and his team in nailing down The Vanished Man.

            However, frustrations aside, one cannot discount the fact that there is method to Jeffery Deaverís madness.  Once the reader picks up this book, he or she simply cannot put it down until the mystery is solved.  When the suspense is over and the case is complete, the reader will still yearn for more and thatís what makes Jeffrey Deaver a writer extraordinaire.



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