Think of a real life Master Magician who uses misdirection, illusion, slight of hand, quick changes into other costumes and personna and his ability to escape from any lock in seconds.
Now what if all those skills were used to commit a crime ? How could you figure what he was really up to since anything he did could be to throw you off what he really wants to do ?
And if you "did" catch him how could you hold him if he can get out of any lock in seconds ?
That is the plot of this riveting and fascinating book as we follow the great criminologist Lincoln Rhymes and his sidekick Amelia as they face what may be their most difficult case of all time !
This book is Lot's of Fun and the author obviously did his homework researching the World of Illusion.
Jeffrey Deaver has shown a tendency to overwork the same plot mechanisms in his previous volumes, causing me to have a few second thoughts about buying and reading this volume. Nor am I a big fan of the kind of suspense story where we are introduced to the villain of the piece immediately and the only mystery is which way the plot will twist next.
So I was surprised when 'The Vanished Man' caught my interest from the onset and kept it to the end. Part of the spell comes from the subject matter - stage magic and it's mysteries. Deaver shows an unexpected mastery of the subject - the tricks, the psychology, and the personalities. He introduces a you magician in training, Kara, to the investigative team, and she holds her own against the strong personalities of Amelia Sachs and the paralyzed Lincoln Rhyme.
When most murderers leave glaring clues they are asking to be caught. But as Rhyme and Sachs investigate a string of gruesome crimes it becomes obvious that a skilled stage artist is dragging them through a trail of misdirection - cold-bloodedly setting a grandiose trap. It is up to the team to try to pinpoint the real object of the crimes before the last grim strike. Not without a lot of help from Kara as well.
Most of the story is Amelia's, Rhyme's active counter part. She has developed quite a bit from being the foil of a brilliant quadriplegic investigator. Her character has a fluidity that makes her a vibrant character with issues of her own - independent of the challenges facing Rhyme himself. If anything, it is Rhyme who has flattened out a bit, becoming something of a caricature of himself.
The story's only fault is that their opponent is a little too good and a little too lucky. Be that as it may, it is excellent reading. Between the magical overtones and a plot that never goes in the same direction for more than a chapter or two, there is enough depth to keep a readers attention. The story stands well by itself, as all of the volumes of this series do. If you haven't looked into them, and like intricate procedurals, it is time to start.
I don't think I've ever read a book with more twists than a plate of rotini. The story's antagonist is a magician/illusionist, and every misdirection that he produces ends up in another twist to the story. You don't know what to believe or how it's going to end, until the last word you read. Excellent storytelling and character development. Teaches you a lot about illusion, too.