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The Vanished Hands (Javier Falcon Thrillers) Paperback – January 2, 2006


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The Vanished Hands (Javier Falcon Thrillers) + The Blind Man of Seville + The Hidden Assassins
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Product Details

  • Series: Javier Falcon Thrillers
  • Paperback: 358 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; Reprint edition (January 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156032821
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156032827
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #912,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

"Murder is the greatest aberration of human nature, it brings out some ingenious subterfuges," remarks Inspector Jefe Javier Falcón, as he ponders a series of ambiguously motivated and ostensibly unconnected suicides in The Vanished Hands, British author Robert Wilson's sequel to his haunting 2003 novel, The Blind Man of Seville.

It's the summer of 2002, more than a year after the shattering events recounted in Blind Man, and Falcón, the chief homicide cop in Seville, Spain, has finally regained his confidence and powers of concentration. Still, he cannot fathom why Rafael Vega, a construction company honcho (and recreational butcher), should have smothered his younger, unstable wife in bed, then chugged a fatal draught of drain cleaner. Is there any connection between this tragedy and the disappearance of the Vegas's Ukranian gardener, or money laundering by the local Russian mafia? Can Rafael Vega's demise be related to his distrust of the U.S. government or to a note found in his hand, with its seeming allusion to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks? As Falcón questions the Vegas's suburban neighbors, he discovers one couple linked to the slaying of an Iranian carpet-dealer in New York, and another nearby resident, renowned actor Pablo Ortega, whose grown son is in prison for kidnapping and abusing an 8-year-old boy. Yet these scandals aren't obviously helpful to Falcón in solving the Vega case. Nor do they explain why those first deaths are soon followed by Ortega's drowning in a cesspool, the suicidal leap of an aging child-crimes investigator, and Russian mafia threats against Falcón.

Wilson doesn’t exploit Seville's exotic setting so well here as he did in Blind Man, and it can be challenging to follow this sequel's political backstory. However, the author more than makes up for these weaknesses with the depth of his psychological explorations, the ways in which he taunts his police with justice slightly beyond their reach, and a patient storytelling pace that enhances investigative revelations. Falcón remains a potent and pivotal figure, his traumas in the last book being replaced in these pages by personal dramas (three different women tug at the inspector jefe's heart, feeding his hope without depleting his loneliness). Founded in mendacity, fraught with betrayals, The Vanished Hands maintains a firm grip on the reader from its start. --J. Kingston Pierce --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

In Wilson's intricate police procedural set in Seville, Spain—the second to feature introspective detective Javier Falcón—a wealthy couple is found dead in their home: Lucia Vega has been suffocated in her own bed; her husband, construction magnate Rafael Vega, is lying on the kitchen floor, poisoned, with a cryptic note in his hand. Is it a murder-suicide—or something more sinister? Falcón's subsequent investigation reveals a vast criminal conspiracy involving the Russian mafia (crime writing's new favorite bad guys) and human trafficking for prostitution and child pornography (crime writing's new favorite transgressions). As usual, Wilson deftly deploys a vast cast of characters, from an ex-pat American couple to a popular Spanish actor, and spins his trademark web of corruption and deceit. But while Falcón is consistently compelling, struggling with his internal demons and with the challenge of ridding Seville of its moral bankruptcy, the plot itself is too complex to really be engaging. In addition, too many references to the first Falcón novel, The Blind Man of Seville, will confuse new readers. The story of one young Russian prostitute—she's promised a job as a waitress in Portugal and ends up working the streets in Spain—is a chilling reminder of the evil that men do, but her frightening tale is lost in the convoluted story.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

ROBERT WILSON is the author of nine previous novels, including A Small Death in Lisbon and The Company of Strangers. A graduate of Oxford University, he has worked in shipping, advertising, and trading in Africa, and has lived in Greece and West Africa.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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The book is well written, with intriguing, mostly believable characters.
Thomas Einstein
Whilst all the 'Javier' books are good to read independently, I wish I had read them in the order in which they were written.
JANETTE DAVIES
Wilson's writing is also a pleasure; he has a true gift for physical description.
Stephen B. Selbst

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Stephen B. Selbst on May 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The greatest thrillers and mysteries are compelling novels that have a mystery at their core. And so it is with Robert Wilson's The Vanished Hands, a beautifully crafted work that, while it stands independently, builds upon Wilson's prior work, The Blind Man of Seville. Wilson's work is just a gem for the genre; it has solid writing, believable characters, and a difficult, but ultimately believable plot. It is a sophisticated and interesting thriller.

When a wealthy businessman and his wife are found dead in their home in a upscale neighborhood of Seville, Wilson's hero, Inspector Javier Falcon, is at first called upon to determine whether their deaths are a murder/suicide or a double murder. But as the investigation commences, bodies keep piling up: a famous, but washed-up actor takes his own life; a Russian prostitute disappears after a brief interrogation by the police and then turns up murdered, a high-ranking police official commits suicide. Falcon believes all these deaths are linked, and are not accidental, but he can't quite connect the dots.

There's a reason why, of course, which is that the plot is intricate and sometimes difficult to follow. But that's one of the reasons why I like Wilson's works; like the real world, they aren't always tidy and linear. And the complexity of the plot and action shouldn't deter readers; Wilson's stop-and-go quality heightens the tension and the reader's interest. If cops could just connect the dots in a simple straight line, there'd be less unsolved crime, and these kinds of novels would be infinitely less satisfying.

Wilson's strength in drawing characters is another reason to admire his work and read his books.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
In Robert Wilson's new book, "The Vanished Hands," Inspector Jefe Javier Falcon, the chief of the Seville homicide squad in Spain, has a particularly nasty case to investigate. A wealthy businessman, Rafael Vega, and his wife, Lucia, are found dead in their luxurious home. At first glance, it looks like a straightforward case of murder/suicide, but Falcon has his doubts.

Rafael Vega worked in construction and he had ties to the Russian mafia. He was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks, and his wife was an emotional wreck. The couple's marriage had been deeply troubled for a long time. Could Vega have killed his wife and then himself? As Falcon's inquiries continue, he learns that Rafael Vega was hiding many ugly secrets that could have ultimately led to his death.

Robert Wilson's textured writing makes "The Vanished Hands" an intriguing and tense psychological thriller. Wilson effectively explores the weaknesses and vulnerabilities that cause people to act in self-destructive ways, harming not only themselves but also those closest to them. This book has an aura of melancholy, since it deals with such weighty themes as child abuse, political torture, and infidelity.

Wilson has a deft way with characterization, and this book has quite a cast. Javier Falcon is a man of tremendous integrity, who is willing to lay his career on the line to see that justice is done. His ex-wife, Ines, is engaged to Juez Esteban Calderon, a duty judge who is also a known womanizer. Falcon's therapist, Alice Aguado, helps to keep Falcon on an even emotional keel and she also assists Javier with other cases that he is pursuing.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By tregatt on December 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Inspector Jefe Javier Falcon of the Seville Homicide Squad is back in another tautly paced and intricate mystery, "The Vanished Hands." Compelling and haunting, this second installment in the Inspector Jefe Falcon series proved to be an absorbing and riveting read, and one that lingered in the mind long after I had finished the book.

In an exclusive suburban neigbourhood, Inspector Jefe Falcon is called in to investigate what looks like a murder-suicide of rich businessman Rafael Vega and his neurotic wife, Lucia. It all looks very cut and dried: Vega suffocated his wife while she was sleeping and then consumed a litre of drain cleaner, thus killing himself. Vega even leaves a cryptic suicide note, all pointing to the fact that he was a very disturbed and depressed man. But something about the scene disturbs the investigating officer, Falcon. For instance, why would a man obsessed with security to the extent that he had a state of the art system, leave the front door merely closed instead of locked up? Reluctant to make any snap jugements, Falcon and his team begins an investigation into Vega's past and business affairs, as well as that of his neigbours. What they discover is a man with a fake past, few friends and echoes of a previous case involving a pedophile ring. But this time, Falcon who has almost recovered from the traumas he faced in the previous case ("The Blind Man of Seville") is determined to get the result he so earnestly desires...

While I'd categorise "The Vanished Hands" as a must read, I have to admit that having a good memory of what happened in "The Blind Man of Seville" or else being able to intuitively grasp what happened in the previous book from what is revealed in this book, is quite essential. That one critisim apart, this was a really excellent read.
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