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The Vanishing Point

Val McDermid

A fine crime writer, Val McDermid has won international acclaim and a devoted following with her heart-stopping thrillers.


In The Vanishing Point, she kicks off a terrifying thriller with a nightmare scenario: a parent who loses her child in a bustling international airport.Young Jimmy Higgins is snatched from an airport security checkpoint while his guardian watches helplessly from the glass inspection box. But this is no ordinary abduction, as Jimmy is no ordinary child. His mother was Scarlett, a reality TV star who, dying of cancer and alienated from her unreliable family, entrusted the boy to the person she believed best able to give him a happy, stable life: her ghost writer, Stephanie Harker. Assisting the FBI in their attempt to recover the missing boy, Stephanie reaches into the past to uncover the motive for the abduction. Has Jimmy been taken by his own relatives? Is Stephanie’s obsessive ex-lover trying to teach her a lesson? Has one of Scarlett’s stalkers come back to haunt them all?

A powerful, grippingly-plotted thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats until the end, The Vanishing Point showcases McDermid at the height of her talent

Stephanie Harker travels through security in the USA only to watch her boy get snatched from under her nose - a blurb that had me itching to start the book. The first couple of chapters are usually slow burners with a majority of books as the authors go about explaining the characters or settings but not with this book  - it takes a mere few pages for us to meet Stephanie and the five year old Jimmy as they go through security at the airport. With Stephanie watching Jimmy go through the metal detector she follows him and promptly gets stopped. She has no idea that as she gets stopped her life will change forever and she watches in disbelief as somebody in uniform comes along and leads young Jimmy straight out of the door. Within the first couple of chapters I was already at the edge of my seat and reading in disbelief as things go wrong very quickly for Steph.

As Stephanie gets led away be airport security to be questioned the story starts its real journey. It becomes clear pretty quickly that Stephanie is innocent and she is trying to explain to airport authorities that Jimmy has been snatched and they need to act immediately. As the FBI get involved and start to question her Stephanie sits back and tells the story of `how it all began'. We are taken back to the beginning by Stephanie herself as in small bursts we see her history and how she meets Jimmy's mum who is a famous TV reality star.As Steph tells the story of how she came to meet Scarlett Higgins things start to make a little more sense. Scarlett is only famous for being famous and with a very strange upbringing she is determined to make a successful career out of her short reality TV stint. She then contracts cancer and begins her battle to keep her public image up, raise her son and generally gets the most out of life. As we fast forward to Steph trying to help the FBI to track down who may have taken Jimmy Higgins, and then back to the time before she had him you begin to question what everybody in Steph's life is up to, and whether they have an ulterior motive.

The layout and way the story is told certainly rings a few bells and had some ring of truth to it, especially in regards to a famous reality TV star who fought cancer in this country! But that aside, the way the story was told and the fact that each time we revisit Steph during her interview with the FBI you feel the tension rise.

I literally couldn't put this book down. Towards the end I thought I had it all figured out and was irritated to see there was still quite a bit left, what more could there be? Turns out I was completely wrong and the ending threw me sideways, I certainly didn't see that one coming! 

Review by Katherine Everett, Best Crime Books

About Val McDermid:

Val McDermid was born and schooled on the east coast of Scotland and then Oxford University after which she became a journalist.

Her first book, Report for Murder was published in 1987.

She lives in Manchester and Northumberland, with 3 cats.


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