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by Tim Weaver
Penguin Books, July 2012
528 pages
6.99 GBP
ISBN: 0241954401

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Thousands of people go missing in the UK every year and are never found. For Julia Wren, the nightmare starts when her husband Sam boards a tube train on his way to work and simply disappears into thin air. The police investigation seems perfunctory and no trace of Sam is found anywhere. Six months later, Julia, desperate to pay the mortgage and keep her home, hires David Raker, a man who specializes in finding people. Julia believes he's the only person who can help her, but despite this, Raker soon realizes that she's keeping secrets from him.

As Raker delves deeply into Sam Wren's life, he begins to discover things about him that were not apparent on the surface. Like his wife, Wren had secrets he wanted to keep, but if Raker is to have a chance of finding him, he'll have to keep digging, despite the fact that the police don't seem to want him to get involved. But Raker isn't a man who gives up easily.

In VANISHED, Tim Weaver has picked a great scenario and pulls it off well. I was immediately caught up in the search for Sam Wren and everything that lead on from his disappearance. Raker's examination of the CCTV footage from the tube station was fascinating, as was the way he gradually peeled back the layers of Sam Wren's life. Interspersed with this narrative is the story of disgraced detective. Colm Healy, a man who in the eyes of his colleagues crossed far too many lines in the hunt alongside Raker for his kidnapped daughter. Healy is still haunted by the fact that he couldn't save his daughter, but despite that, he's doing his best to salvage his career. Healy hopes that the hunt for a presumed serial killer, a man known to the press as the Snatcher, will provide the opportunity he needs to redeem himself.

The time-jumping nature of the narrative, switching as it does in the early stages, between Raker's hunt for the missing man and the story of how Healy becomes involved in the hunt for the Snatcher, has the potential for some confusion, but the relevant sections are time and date stamped, which aides in keeping the two strands separate. The twin narratives are skillfully interwoven and eventually mesh in a satisfying and for me, at least, wholly unexpected manner. VANISHED is very much a book that delivers on its early promise.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, November 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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