“ Author: Val McDermid / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 31 January 2013 / Genre: Crime & Thriller / Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Title: The Vanishing Point / ISBN 13: 9780751546101 / ISBN 10: 0751546101 / Alternative EAN: 9781408703212 „
* Prices may differ from that shown
Described in the tagline as 'a genuine page-turner' and 'every parent's worst nightmare', something greatly appealed to me about this book. The cover I found after reading was a bit misleading, but it features a stormy view across a field, and you can see a man disappearing with a child into the far distance.
Stephanie Harker is travelling across America with her 5 year old child, Jimmy. They get stopped at airport security when a metal plate in her leg makes the metal detector go off. She has to leave Jimmy alone next to the security scanner for just a few minutes where she can still see him. Then to her horror, she watches a stranger in airport uniform take the child by the hand and lead him away through the busy airport. When she tries to follow, the staff try to stop her, and bewildered by her behaviour she is stunned with a taser. By the time she comes round enough to report what happened, the boy is long gone.
This book got going pretty much straight away. We join the story as the main characters are queueing to go through security, and within a matter of minutes the first chapter takes us through the dramatic moments I describe above. Immediately you feel very tense as a reader wondering just who could have the brass neck to abduct a child from such a busy airport in front of so many potential witnesses.
The story then takes the format of Stephanie being questionned by airport security staff and an FBI agent. We learn that Stephanie is a ghost writer - a woman whos very job is to tell a good tale. We hear the extraordinary story of how she came to be Jimmy's guardian - his parentage, in particular his mother (Scarlett) who is a reality TV star greatly reminded me of Jade Goody from their similar personality traits. Scarlett has had a very deprived upbringing, but the TV show helped her to drag herself away from a life of drug abuse and violence. Scarlett is not the brightest tool in the box, and she has a tendency to express points of view that are perhaps unethical or even racist. However, strangely, Stephanie and Scarlett become best friends, and the cirumstances mean that Scarlett cannot take care of her son, and she asks Stephanie to be his guardian - a job she promised to do to her best ability.
Very skillfully, we are taken through the past five years of history - we meet lots of characters from Stephanie's past, such as ex-boyfriend Pete who has stalked her in the past, Jimmy's parents, and other people who were around him as he grew up. The story is very involving, and this is the sort of book that kept me reading far too long into the night, and I even caught myself reading it while waiting for dinner to cook instead of watching in case it boiled over. The story really did play with my emotions and get me trying to predict where this missing boy could possibly be and if Stephanie would ever get him back.
I don't want to give too much plot away by talking more about it, so I just want to say that I could never have predicted the outcome of this, and I felt when we got to the conclusion of this story, I felt that it all ended very suddenly and I was left wanting even more from this story to see what happened next. I was really sad that I had come to the end of the 530 page novel.
McDermid is a very skillful author - there is really nothing to criticise within this story. I felt like I were living alongside the characters, and although it occasionally felt like the outcome was predictable, I ended up second guessing right till the end what was going to happen.
I find it very hard to classify this novel - McDermid to me is usually a crime fiction author, and though there is a big criminal case within this story, I felt that was almost secondary to a damn good character based novel. If you hate crime novels, you probably won't enjoy some of the bits in here that are a little more graphic, but someone who likes trying to solve a mystery may not find it that appealing either. One thing it certainly is for me is a dramatic and clever story with lots of tension that kept me reading right to the end. I've enjoyed a couple of other novels by McDermid, and I will be looking out for more very soon based upon my thorough enjoyment of this particular story. The best book I have read in a good few months.