This book was inside of a compilation of books by Reader’s Digest known as the Select Editions. It includes not one, but 4 novels all from different authors and about different things. I’d received this book along with a treasure trove of other books after my mom’s job cancelled the book sale that all of these were collected for. So seeing as portable and convenient as this book was I took it with me and proceeded to read every novel within it. They were all fantastic! And eventually I’m sure I’ll write about the other authors as well, but the one that stood out and completely surprised me was: The Vanished Man by Jeffery Deaver. I’ve never been one to get into mystery, thriller,or suspense sort of novels. I’ve always tended to stay in the teen section, once or twice venturing off into an adult section but only for a book by an author that I’d already known. Most of which were science-fiction-y. So at first I was a bit apprehensive. I wondered how involved this author would be able to get me into this story. And hoped it was well-written enough to allow my mind to run imaginative reels in my head of scene by scene from the book.
Well the verdict is in. This novel was MIND-BLOWING. At first I doubted Jeffery Deaver’s ability of making Lincoln Rhyme, the novel’s main character: a quadriplegic, world-renowned forensic criminalist, believable. But Mr. Deaver did his job and did it extremely well. Lincoln Rhyme is able to assess crime scenes without actually seeing them or being there because of his partner Amelia Sachs. She is essentially his eyes and ears. They communicate through phone, Sachs wearing a headset and mic while at the scene and Lincoln getting information from her through a land line in real-time. It’s a perfect partnership and answers any question I had about any of Rhyme’s in abilities.
The basis of this novel begins with Rhyme and Sachs being called to aid in a scene where a killer got away through a seemingly inescapable place. His first victim is murdered by way of Lazy Hangman. A trick in which a performer lies on their belly, hands bound behind their back in Darby handcuffs. The ankles are then tied together, while another piece of rope is wound around the neck and tied back to the ankles. While the victim’s body’s tendency is to straighten the legs, the rope around the neck begins to get tighter and tighter and essentially the person suffocates themselves. Which is how this unfortunate victim’s life came to an end. Now if that’s not enough to get you interested in reading this book, than anything I tell you after this will do no good, but I shall continue.
What Sachs and Rhyme eventually realize is that the killer is murdering his victims by way of illusionist tricks. Think Criss Angel and David Blane, not bunnies in a top hat. So with this, a cat and mouse game begins. Where there are several instances in which everyone is sure they’re about to catch the killer or know his next move. But in most cases they are a few steps behind, or next on the list. Rhyme knows that he needs more insight into the illusionist’s mind and more information as to how certain tricks are done and how the killer could continually escape. So as a result he enlists the help of a young woman named Kara, who happens to be an aspiring magician. Even though she’s just learning the ropes herself, she becomes a formidable character throughout the book and an absolute essential tool in helping solve Rhyme’s case. Which keeps you on the edge of your seat, with each turn of the page. Hopefully, I’ve said enough to have piqued your interest by now.
This book is thrilling, it’s suspenseful, it’s breath-taking, mind-boggling, and intense. You don’t know who the killer could be, because an illusionist has an advantage that most killers don’t have, a quick-change technique used by magicians, allowing for several costume changes within seconds. So it could be the older lady carrying the bag of groceries, or the janitor sweeping up the hallways. This novel not only educates you about illusionists, magicians, their props and some techniques, but it is so well written that you’ll feel as if you’re living it. Running side-by-side with Sachs chasing after the alleged killer, or examining the evidence with Rhyme to see if you missed any clues. Not once did I feel as if I was simply reading a book.
After finishing, I was happy to discover that this was one of several novels that Mr. Deaver has had published and am now more than eager to read the rest. So if your mind is bending over how and if they catch this tricky killer, go to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy of The Vanished Man. I guarantee that it will astound you and give you a new-found respect for illusionists and magicians alike. Until next time fellow Bohemians, happy reading.