Presto! With a conjuror's flourish, the reliable Jeffery Deaver has pulled another winner out of his hat. The Vanished Man
brings back Lincoln Rhyme, forensic investigator, and his sidekick Amelia Sachs, ex-model and beat cop, a team featured in four previous books. Their case begins with a murder in which the culprit, cornered in a locked room, seemingly vanishes into thin air. Rhyme soon realizes he's up against a master illusionist--and then acquires a conjuror of his own, a spunky apprentice magician, to advise him. The book is chock-a-block with magic lore and with details of the craft of illusion, which provide a fine complement to the engrossing forensic-science puzzles.
The characters, as usual with Deaver, are little more than cardboard cutouts. Even Rhyme himself, a brilliant quadriplegic and former head of NYPD forensics, seems more a collection of characteristics than a man. But Deaver's cutouts are sturdy and well-constructed, and the book's plotting and pacing--featuring twist upon twist and reversal upon reversal--are nothing short of dazzling, reminiscent of Agatha Christie at her best. Deaver proves himself an accomplished illusionist, misdirecting your attention with one hand while slipping a firecracker down your pants with the other. --Nicholas H. Allison
From Publishers Weekly
Fans of Deaver know that he works storytelling magic in his thrillers, not just the Lincoln Rhyme tales (The Stone Monkey, etc.) but also the stand-alones (The Blue Nowhere, etc.). It's fitting, then, that in his new, giddily entertaining story about quadriplegic crime fighter Rhyme, he casts as his villain a professional illusionist-and an apprentice magician as assistant to Rhyme and Rhyme's cop sidekick-lover, Amelia Sachs. The novel opens with the murder of a young female student at a music school on Manhattan's Upper West Side. Caught in the act, the killer vanishes from a sealed room. Forensic and eyewitness clues point to a culprit with magic training; looking for expert help, Sachs encounters an aspiring illusionist, who goes by the stage name of Kara, who agrees to help her and Rhyme. The villain-revealed in passages from his POV as "Malerick," soon identified as a world-class magician with a serious ax to grind-commits further mayhem (including an attack on Rhyme), which looks like steps toward an act of consummate revenge. A subplot about a white power demagogue's attempt to assassinate the Manhattan D.A. who's prosecuting him grows to involve Malerick, giving the storyline twists-and twists and twists, through Deaver's masterful sleight of hand. Further subplots concerning Sachs's attempt to attain a sergeant's ranking, and Kara's relationship with her stroke-addled mother, as well as the customary difficulties of Rhyme's condition, add ballast to the gyrating main story line, rich in magic lore and lingo. This is prime Deaver.
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