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
When a gifted illusionist turns his hand to violent death, The Vanished Man
is only one of a series of classic conjuring tricks that paralysed forensic investigator Lincoln Rhyme finds himself having to understand. More important even than the details of technique which Lincoln and his partner Amelia are taught by young illusionist Kara are the conjuror's habits of mind--misdirection piled on deceit piled on false leads. It is not just sleight of hand that deceives the eye; it is where the eye is tricked into looking. Is the killer who calls himself Malerik just after a sequence of showy violent deaths, or is that what he wants Lincoln to think?
This is an impressive addition to Deaver's much-praised sequence of novels about Lincoln and Amelia simply because they find themselves up against an equally intelligent killer with radically different ways of thinking. Their habits of logic and science and legwork are of limited use against someone who constantly stretches the limits of the improbable. Jeffrey Deaver has always been an ingenious thriller writer and this book returns to the sardonic wit of his earliest work as he too engages in endless trickery and confusion of our expectations. --Roz Kaveney