Vanished by Joseph Finder

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Vanished by Joseph Finder

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: Joseph Finder has hit on a winning formula with this first book in a thrilling new series featuring Nick Heller, a tough, international security consultant. Vanished is a rollercoaster of a ride from start to finish.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Headline
ISBN: 978-0755342082

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In the wake of a ferocious attack, Lauren Heller finds herself in a hospital bed, groggy from 24 hours of oblivion. Her head is bandaged and throbbing and her husband, Roger, is not only missing – he has vanished without a trace.

Enter Roger's brother Nick Heller, the pre-eminent investigator at Stoddard Associates with a cv that includes a spell as ex-Army Special Forces. Nick is a man who does not take orders from anyone and a man for whom family is of the ultimate importance. As Stoddard's finest, most inventive and successful operator, Nick Heller is used to getting results but this time, the case is personal.

Calling in more favours than he is strictly comfortable with and using all his guile, wile and skill, Nick quickly discovers that Lauren has not been entirely truthful as to the extent of her knowledge about Roger, whom she claims over recent months has become little more than a stranger to her. When Lauren's son Gabe fills in some of the gaps and sheds considerably more light than his mother could ever have expected him to, Nick begins to get the picture; and it is not one that he is particularly pleased to see.

Where is Roger Heller and why is Nick being stopped at every turn in his attempts to find him? What does this hidden and powerful enemy know that leaves Nick playing catch up?

Joseph Finder is pretty well known in the thriller genre but this is his first in a presumably long and undoubtedly popular series of Nick Heller plots. The story itself is well thought out and intelligently crafted – I am not generally one for high-stakes, white-collar crime with a pinch of industrial espionage - and certainly, the protagonist is everything he should be: sharp, clever, cunning, skilled in armed and unarmed combat, fearless and dangerous; but I did not grow to like him as I felt I should have throughout the story. That doesn't mean it is not a good read or a great overall idea – quite the opposite. Nick Heller is exactly what it says on the tin and precisely what I would want a hero to be. I just didn't really find a believable human side to him, even though Finder tries fairly hard to provide one for the reader. I think in part, that I have been spoiled by Scott Mariani and his Ben Hope character, who is basically all the things that Nick Heller appears not to be and I have a huge, ridiculous and entirely virtual crush on him!

In any case, none of that will, in all likelihood, prevent me from picking up the very next installment of Heller books, because I simply love the idea of a valiant ex-Special Forces brute charging about righting the world's wrongs and delivering justice with an iron fist (in spite of the fact that Finder thinks that the US ex-Special Forces (Heller) are harder than the UK ex-Special Air Service (Hope) because we all know how outlandish a concept that is)!

If you think this kind of in a series character books are for you, then you should without question take a look at Scott Mariani and his Ben Hope novels, three of which we have reviewed for you here at Bookbag. You may also enjoy The Last Testament by Sam Bourne which is vaguely more ancient historical than industrial espionage, but I think you will enjoy the way the tale is an exhausting physical and mental chase. Lastly, maybe you should look at Cut Her Dead by Iain McDowall which is also a character novel, but slightly grittier and perhaps more colourfully brutal.

Finally we at Bookbag would like to extend our thanks to the kind ladies and gentlemen at Headline for sending this copy to us for review.

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