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The Vanishing Point [Kindle Edition]

Val McDermid
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
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Book Description

“[McDermid’s] work is taut, psychologically complex and so gripping that it puts your life on hold.”—The Times (UK)

“Masterfully handled, and McDermid’s ability to wrong-foot the reader remains second to none: highly recommended.”—The Guardian (UK)

From one of the finest crime writers we have, 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 further away the kidnapper gets. It soon becomes clear 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.

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. . . . Th[e] 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 (online)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Putting her series characters Tony Hill and Carol Jordan on the back burner temporarily, McDermid (The Retribution) delivers a solid stand-alone combining the high-stakes hunt for a missing child with the dark underbelly of celebrity culture. Usually content to work behind the scenes, ghostwriter Stephanie Harker's world changes when she signs on to write reality-TV star Scarlett Higgins's autobiography. A brash former contestant from the fictional British show Goldfish Bowl, Scarlett has made a career out of being outspoken. Stephanie and Scarlett develop an unlikely friendship, and Stephanie grows attached to Scarlett's son, Jimmy, whose father is a fame-crazed DJ. When Scarlett discovers she's dying of cancer, the question of Jimmy's future looms large. Since McDermid opens with a chilling scene in which five-year-old son Jimmy, traveling with Stephanie, is snatched from Chicago's O'Hare Airport, it's clear whom Scarlett ultimately chooses to look after her son. Stephanie and Scarlett's often tumultuous relationship is glimpsed in flashbacks, juxtaposed with the present-day search for Jimmy, hampered both by the fact that he's not Stephanie's son and the slickness of a kidnapper who leaves no tracks. Though Stephanie is quickly forgettable, larger-than-life Scarlett is a chance for McDermid to explore a different kind of ugliness than she tackles in her series novels. (Sept. 2012)


Another gripping read from the queen of psychological thrillers. Haunting Weekend Gold Coast Bulletin Val McDermid's dark crime series will at times repulse even the most hardened crime reader Culture Street Val McDermid, what a diva of crime! ... An acute and credible thriller Sunday Age McDermid handles the various strands of the story with consummate mastery, and the reader is swept along to the story's genuinely shocking denouement Irish Independent This is a gripping psychological thriller from the beginning to the unexpected ending. A first class novel and McDermid's best to date Woman's Way Ireland Val McDermid, what a diva of crime! An acute and credible psychological thriller Sunday Examiner A breathtakingly rich and gripping psychological thriller, The Vanishing Point is Val McDermid's most accomplished standalone novel to date, a work of haunting brilliance Mid-West News The queen of the psychological thriller, Val McDermid, proves exactly why she has earned that appellation with her latest offering ... [she] has a gift for inducing gut-wrenching suspense and high anxiety. Disquiet is transferred as if by alchemy direct from the page into the mind. It's uncomfortable and compelling West Australian

Product Details

  • File Size: 713 KB
  • Print Length: 449 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408703211
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (October 9, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008DYIC50
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,048 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfocused and predictable August 26, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've always been a big Val McDermid fan. Normally she creates compelling characters and stories that make you want to keep reading despite her clunky prose, especially when she gets into the head of truly creepy psychopaths. In The Vanishing Point, however, the characters never feel like more than stereotypes (the d.j. "playah" from an Indian family, the smarter than she appears reality contestant, the hunky cop, the whip-smart journalist, the possessive musician, the smart foreign housekeeper).

Worse, the book isn't sure what it wants to be -- a mystery, an examination of reality show fame, or an argument against domestic violence. The three strands never really come together. In form, the book starts out as a mystery, with the kidnapping of a child at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, in a scene that's never really convincing. At first, the kidnapping seems to be merely a framing device for the woman the child is taken from, who's been raising the child since the death of his reality t.v. contestant mother. I knew the story was in trouble the moment the narrator, a ghost writer named Stephanie, opens her description of the FBI agent questioning her with the line "a lazy writer would have made something of..." Is McDermid telling us she's a lazy writer? Given how often she repeats the same word from one line to the next and uses the same expression multiple times within a few pages, I had to conclude that McDermid spent a lot of time working out the plot but very little on the actual writing.

The biggest problem with the book for me, however, was that the resolution of the mystery was obvious less than halfway through, and the writing and characters weren't strong enough to carry me to the end with any degree of interest after I'd figured it out.

I was excited to read new Val McDermid, but if this had been my first book of hers it probably would have been my last. She can do so much better.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've found some of Val McDermid's past books to be really dark, and to my surprise, "The Vanishing Point" didn't have a grim, super-creepy tone. The book begins with a kidnapping: the adopted son of main character Stephanie Harker is whisked away from under her nose as she waits for a security pat-down at an American airport. For any parent, this kind of scenario, where an ordinary, even tedious scene from everyday life turns, in an instant, into one's worst nightmare, is gripping and ratchets up the tension. But the book next adopts an almost chatty tone, as Stephanie tells her life story--in copious detail--to a sympathetic FBI agent. We learn that Stephanie is a ghost writer, and her most famous client a reality-tv star named Scarlett Higgins. Stephanie walks us through how she met Scarlett; agreed to ghost-write a book for her; and became, to both her and Scarlett's surprise, a very close friend of the celebrity. Scarlett is diagnosed with breast cancer, and her illness brings the two women closer together. So close, in fact, that Scarlett asks Stephanie to act as her son's guardian should she succumb to her illness. Interspersed with Stephanie's recollections are scenes from the present-day, in which the FBI agent and a British detective try to figure out who took five-year-old Jimmy and why.

McDermid does a pretty good job of switching back and forth from Stephanie's detailed, soapy memories to terse scenes in which law enforcement tries to track the kidnapper(s). She creates some interesting characters, including the flashy Scarlett who achieves fame on a reality TV show similar to Survivor; her dapper agent George; Scarlett's cousin, Leanne; although others (in particular, the detective Nick Nicolaides, Stephanie's love interest) fall flat.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different September 22, 2012
By Harley
Format:Kindle Edition
You can look at this two ways. On the one hand as McDermid's books go this is out of character and some, probably all, of the negative reviews on here have very valid points. On the other hand, I think it is an enjoyable crime thriller in its own right. The story is told mostly in flashback with the rather artificial setup of interview by the FBI. The kidnap itself is well handled, you can feel Steph's frustration. Most of this book is the tale of a reality celebrity, based pretty much on Jade Goody's life story from what I can see. In a way the abduction becomes irrelevent for much of it. Steph's stalker ex boyfriend also gets a lot of attention. Where the book enters fantasy land is Part 3 which feels a bit like it's tacked on. Having meandered though the story at leisure, suddenly the pace picks up and Nick and Steph race around trying to save Jimmy. The ending comes abruptly, and for me with some bemusement. Whilst for me, unlike for others reviewing, the ending was a surprise, it did not satisfy. I know the Steph character was bland but I did not expect her to do what she did. In some ways this book suffers from multiple personalities - a chick lit crime story for the beach and the old style penny dreadful stories with the completely bizzarre plots and plastic characters. Some may wonder at the 4 stars now! In grading I go with the gut. Did I enjoy this? Yes. Was it worth the money? Yes. Did the author manage to keep me engaged? Yes. Would I read it again? No. So 4 not 5. In fact this quite simply does not feel like a McDermid book at all. As generally I review books in isolation given that I read so many and can never remember who wrote what else, whether or not this is better or worse than her other stuff has not been factored into my opinion here. Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Got better as characters evolved.
Published 2 months ago by Eileen Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story to read didn't know the finish until I ...
Great story to read didn't
know the finish until I got there very surprise at the end
Published 3 months ago by Coleen Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars fabulous read!
Loved this book, Val McDermid is such a gifted writer, it is always a great experience to read one of her novels. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MARIE A. HALEK
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping
This story twist and turns, I could hardly put it down, and then it ended rather abruptly. Maybe there is a sequel, I felt as if things were hanging in the air somewhat. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Anne Joubert
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the time
I really like McDermid's Tony Hill books and several of her stand-alones (I've not read her others). Read more
Published 8 months ago by Janet S. Netz
5.0 out of 5 stars mad, shocking, unexpected twist on the last page
As parents we can all relate to this nightmare of our child being snatched in front of our eyes. Being tazered by airport security while she is trying to save her son made me... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Susan
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your Carol and Tony storytelling style
Not McDermid's usually gritty psychological thriller, but an engaging read with ample red herrings to keep you guessing. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
2.0 out of 5 stars Most certainly one of McDermid's inferior works
I wish someone would tell the prolific Val McDermid that if she spent less time cranking out third-rate stories and a bit more time working on characterization, plot structure, and... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Dennis A. Dinkel
1.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read
Could not get into it. Probably because there is a section written in the first person and I find it hard to concentrate
Published 10 months ago by S. G. Park
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Fantastic thriller love the climatic ending, twists and turns everywhere. Typically mcdermid great storytelling! Will recommend to all my friends
Published 12 months ago by Lori
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