The Vanishing Pointby Val McDermid
“[McDermid’s] work is taut, psychologically complex and so gripping that it puts your life on hold.” —The Times (London)
The Vanishing Point kicks off with a nightmare scenario—the abduction of a child in an international airport. Stephanie Harker is in the screening booth at airport security, separated from Jimmy Higgins, the five-year-old boy she’s in the process of adopting, when a man in a TSA uniform leads the boy away. The more Stephanie sounds the alarm, the more the security agents suspect her, and the farther away the kidnapper gets. It soon becomes clear that nothing in this situation is clear-cut. For starters, Jimmy’s birth mother was a celebrity—living in a world where conspiracy and obfuscation are excused for the sake of column inches. And then there are the bad boys in both women’s pasts. As FBI agent Vivian McKuras and Scotland Yard Detective Nick Nikolaides investigate on both sides of the pond, Stephanie learns just how deep a parent’s fear can reach. And the horrifying reality is that she has good reason to be afraid—for reasons she never saw coming.
“Masterfully handled, and McDermid’s ability to wrong-foot the reader remains second to none: highly recommended.” —The Guardian
“The Vanishing Point . . . is marked by [McDermid’s] trademark stunners, including a climax that packs a vicious punch. And readers are again left to marvel at her ingenuity.” —Jay Strafford, Richmond Times-Dispatch
“McDermid knows crime, but more importantly, she knows the dark side of men and women and the havoc they can wreak on each other’s lives. . . . The Vanishing Point is a stand-alone and does it ever. . . . [The] opening is shocking, edge-of-your-seat unnerving and violent on different levels. The reader is immediately drawn in by Harker’s overwhelming panic and fear. It’s taut, smart, vivid writing.” —Victoria Brownworth, Lambda Literary
“Her 26th novel opens with a nerve-shredding set piece that will send a chill down many a parent’s spine. . . . McDermid vividly conveys the rising terror and panic of the situation. . . . McDermid keeps tension high with red herrings and plot twists. The sheer brio of her writing produces that increasingly rare thing, a genuine page-turner that doesn’t insult its readers’ intelligence.” —Shirley Whiteside, The Independent on Sunday (UK)
“Remember what I told you, Jimmy,” Stephanie said firmly. “You know I’ll set off the alarms and then I’ll have to stay inside that clear box until somebody checks me over. You wait by the luggage belt, OK? Don’t go anywhere.”
Stephanie stepped forward and grabbed a plastic tray. She loaded their stuff, checked Jimmy’s pockets then shooed him through the metal detector ahead of her. He turned to watch as the machine beeped, the red lights lit up, and the beefy Transport Security Agency operative indicated the Plexiglas pen.
“Female officer,” he called out, chins and belly wobbling. “Wait inside the box, ma’am.” The outlines of two feet were painted on the floor. Stephanie waved Jimmy toward the conveyor belt where their possessions were slowly emerging from the scanner.
“Wait for me,” she mouthed, giving him a thumbs-up. There were three or four female TSA officers in sight, but none of them seemed eager to deal with her.
When she looked back at Jimmy, it looked like one of the TSA agents was talking to him. A tall man in black uniform trousers and blue shirt. But something was off-kilter. Stephanie frowned. He was wearing a cap, that was what it was. None of the other TSA people wore anything on their heads. As she watched, the man reached for Jimmy’s hand and led him away.