Thrill Week II Review: The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

Title: The Vanishing Point

Author: Val McDermid

Published: Atlantic September 2012

Synopsis: 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?

Status: Read from September 03 to 04, 2012 — I own a copy {Courtesy Grove Atlantic/Netgalley}

My Thoughts:
The Vanishing Point is a thrilling stand alone mystery from Val McDermid. While Stephanie Harker waits in a perspex box to be patted down at a Chicago airport, her young charge, Jimmy Higgins, is led away by a stranger while airport security ignores her anguished cries. In the search for a motive for the abduction, Stephanie relates her unusual friendship with Jimmy’s British celebrity mother, Scarlett, who recently died from cancer, to FBI Special Agent Vivian McKuras. As the tale unfolds, and it becomes clear that Jimmy probably knew his kidnapper, Detective Sergeant Nick Nicolaides begins tracing the list of possible suspects in the UK, a trail that eventually uncovers a stunning web of lies, deception, and betrayal.

Drawing inspiration from the current social appetite for reality television and their stars, The Vanishing Point explores the life of  Scarlett Higgins. A young woman who parlays her controversial role in a Survivor/Big Brother type reality series into modest fame and fortune, Scarlett’s agent engages Stephanie to ghost write a memoir in an attempt to bolster Scarlett’s profile. The project leads to an unlikely friendship between the pair, Stephanie surprised that beneath Scarlett’s ditsy, party girl facade is a smart, savvy and ambitious young woman who has overcome her grim background to fight for success. Scarlett and Stephanie’s relationship is revealed in a series of detailed flashbacks as she talks with Special Agent McKuras, and we learn about their lives and the people in them. As Stephanie talks, Scarlett emerges as a sympathetic figure, even more so when Stephanie reveals Scarlett developed cancer and died leaving her orphaned son, Jimmy, in Stephanie’s care.
In the breaks between Stephanie’s recounts, McDermid briefly shares the progress on the case by law enforcement, interjecting tension into the storyline as the investigation moves between the US and the UK. While the FBI puts out an Amber alert and reviews airport security footage, Detective Sergeant Nick Nicolaides does some legwork in England. Shifting between the two adds interest, especially when Nick gets a break that seems likely to solve the mystery.
McDermid is too skilled an author though for such a neat ending and in a series of shocking twists, Stephanie, returned from the US, and Nick uncover a the shocking truth surrounding Jimmy’s abduction. The conclusion is breathtaking and few readers will see it coming.

While not as brilliantly executed, comparisons of The Vanishing Point can be made to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. While McDermid is best known for her procedural series, The Vanishing Point is an unusual thriller with an intriguing mystery and a conclusion that will surprise you.

Available To Purchase

via Booko

@Amazon I @BookDepository

UK Cover

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Nicola
    Sep 05, 2012 @ 20:43:32

    Val McDermid has been on must read authors list for so long! I must get to her nex year. I didn’t know she wrote standalones though. Interesting! Thanks!



  2. Carol
    Sep 06, 2012 @ 04:07:32

    I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by McDermid, but this sounds like one I should pick up. I like that it’s a stand-alone and I might have a small problem with watching too many reality shows.



  3. Tea Time with Marce
    Sep 06, 2012 @ 12:39:53

    I have Mermaids Singing on my list. I first heard of her during last years Thrill Week. I saw this and assumed it was part of her series actually, good to know stand alone.



  4. Trackback: 2012: #47 – The Vanishing Point (Val McDermid)

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