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Vanished (Nick Heller ) Hardcover – August 18, 2009

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Book Description
Nick Heller is tough, smart, and stubborn. And in his line of work, it's essential. Trained in the Special Forces, Nick is a high-powered intelligence investigator--exposing secrets that powerful people would rather keep hidden. He's a guy you don't want to mess with. He's also the man you call when you need a problem fixed.

Desperate, with nowhere else to run, Nick's nephew, Gabe makes that call one night. After being attacked in Georgetown, his mother, Lauren, lies in a coma, and his step-dad, Roger, Nick's brother, has vanished without a trace.

Nick and Roger have been on the outs since the arrest, trial, and conviction of their father, the notorious "fugitive financier," Victor Heller. Where Nick strayed from the path, Roger followed their father's footsteps into the corporate world. Now, as Nick searches for his brother, he's on a collision course with one of the most powerful corporations in the world--and they will stop at nothing to protect their secrets.

Amazon Exclusive Essay: Joseph Finder on Finding a Hero for Vanished

A few years ago I was in London on book tour when I got a call from one of my best sources, a senior CIA operative involved in some really secret covert operations. He said he was in London too and wondered if I was free for dinner. There was someone he wanted me to meet.

I hadn't talked to my CIA friend--I'll call him James--in a few years, so I was glad to hear from him. I always enjoyed talking with him. Over the years he'd learned to trust my discretion (I never burn my sources) and--since I write fiction instead of reporting for the New York Times or something--he knew he could tell me things he could never tell a journalist.

I didn't ask how James had gotten my cell phone number. Or how he knew I was in London. I figured that, in his line of work, he just knew stuff.

When I got to the fancy restaurant in Mayfair, I found James sitting in a booth in the shadowed recesses with some very well dressed Arab-looking guy.

This guy wouldn't tell me his name. All he'd say was that he was an arms dealer from a certain Middle Eastern country. It took a while, and several bottles of expensive Bordeaux, but he started talking. And the stories he told me about how the international arms trade really worked, at the highest levels, blew me away. It was as if there was this whole subterranean world where terrifying things happen and decisions are made that affect us all, by faceless men whose existence we know nothing about.

Later, when I thanked James for getting us together, I asked him how things were going at the Agency. And that was when I got the biggest surprise of the evening: James wasn't working at the CIA anymore. He'd gone private. Now he was doing the same sort of spy work that he used to do, only for a lot more money. He worked for corporations and politicians and foreign governments. In fact, sometimes he even worked for the CIA, as an outside contractor.

But now, since he was no longer constrained by pesky U.S. government laws, he could actually do more. Go places that were once off limits. Do things he wasn't able to do before. He was an international investigator for a private intelligence firm.

He was a private spy.

And when I heard that, I knew I'd just found the hero of my next book. My first series hero, in fact: a character who could come back in novel after novel. My own Jason Bourne or James Bond--only he'd fit right in with the real-world corporate intrigue that readers really seemed to respond to in my novels like Paranoia and Killer Instinct and Power Play. But he could also do some really amazing spy stuff. He could be an action hero, but my sort of action hero--smart, connected, funny, real.

I named him Nick Heller, and I decided to introduce him to the world in a very personal, very high-stakes adventure in which he delves into his own troubled family history and, at the same time, digs up some very scary stuff about what really happens behind the scenes in Washington, D.C.

You'll meet him prowling around a private airport outside of L.A., where he's been hired to locate a missing shipment of enormous value. You'll meet his evil father, Victor, who's in prison in upstate New York for a massive investment fraud. And his fourteen-year-old nephew Gabe, who's kind of "emo" (as my daughter would say) but actually pretty cool. And I'm pretty sure you'll be astonished by what he finds at the end of the story.

I think you'll enjoy spending time with Nick. I know I did.

Oh, and that arms dealer I met in London? He'll be showing up in one of the Nick Heller stories soon.

From Publishers Weekly

Known for his stand-alones, bestseller Finder (Power Play) introduces Nick Heller, an elite corporate intelligence specialist and former Special Services badass, in this exciting series opener. After a frantic call from his 14-year-old nephew, Gabe, Heller returns home to Washington, D.C., from a job in California to find Gabe's mother in a coma and Gabe's stepfather, Roger, who is Heller's older brother, vanished without a trace. Though the brothers have been estranged since their father's much-publicized securities fraud conviction years earlier, Nick vows to protect Gabe and his mother and unravel the mystery of Roger's alleged abduction. The investigation leads him to some disturbing revelations about Roger, not the least of which involves a powerful—and dangerous—private military company. Written in staccato chapters that are emotionally supercharged and action packed, this thriller will more than satisfy adrenaline junkies and have them guessing until the very end. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Series: Nick Heller (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press (August 18, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312379080
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312379087
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (295 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,514 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Joseph Finder's plan was to become a spy. Or maybe a professor of Russian history. Instead he became a bestselling thriller writer, and winner of the Strand Critics Award for Best Novel for BURIED SECRETS (2011), winner of the International Thriller Writers Award for Best Novel for KILLER INSTINCT (2006) and winner of the Barry and Gumshoe Awards for Best Thriller for COMPANY MAN (2005).

Born in Chicago, Joe spent his early childhood living around the world, including Afghanistan and the Philippines. In fact, Joe's first language -- even before English -- was Farsi, which he spoke as a child in Kabul. After a stint in Bellingham, WA, his family finally settled outside of Albany, NY.

After taking a high school seminar on the literature and history of Russia, Joe was hooked. He went on to major in Russian studies at Yale, where he also sang with the school's legendary a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs (and likes to boast that he sang next to Ella Fitzgerald, an honorary Whiffenpoof). Joe graduated summa cum laude from Yale College, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, then completed a master's degree at the Harvard Russian Research Center, and later taught on the Harvard faculty. He was recruited to the Central Intelligence Agency but eventually decided he preferred writing fiction.

His first book, published in 1983 when Joe was only 24, was RED CARPET: THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE KREMLIN AND AMERICA'S MOST POWERFUL BUSINESSMEN, the first book to reveal that the controversial multi-millionaire Dr. Armand Hammer, the CEO of Occidental Petroleum, had worked for Soviet intelligence in the 1920s and 1930s. (This book is no longer in print.)

But RED CARPET was only part of the story that Joe wanted to tell. So he wrote his first novel - the only way he could legally tell the whole Armand Hammer saga. Published in 1991, THE MOSCOW CLUB described events whose factual truth would only be revealed many years later. THE MOSCOW CLUB was named by Publishers Weekly as one of the ten best spy thrillers of all time and was published in thirty foreign countries.

What followed were three more critically-acclaimed thrillers - EXTRAORDINARY POWERS, THE ZERO HOUR (sold to Twentieth-Century Fox for a record sum) and HIGH CRIMES, which became a 2002 Fox film starring Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. Joe was invited on the movie set and even cast for a nonspeaking role as a JAG prosecutor.

Published in 2004, PARANOIA represented a major turning point in Joe's career, landing on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists, among others. It was his first book to use the ruthless drive, corruption and conspiracy of the corporate world as riveting plotline. PARANOIA was called "[with] twists aplenty..." by Entertainment Weekly. A major motion picture based on PARANOIA is in production now and scheduled for release on August 16, 2013.

Joe's next three novels - COMPANY MAN, KILLER INSTINCT and POWER PLAY - were all bestsellers in which things were decidedly not business as usual. He was quickly hailed as "the CEO of suspense."

In VANISHED, published August 2009 by St. Martin's Press and an immediate bestseller, Joe introduced his new continuing character, "private spy" Nick Heller. Trained in the Special Forces, Nick is a high-powered intelligence investigator - exposing secrets that powerful people would rather keep hidden. He's a guy you don't want to mess with. He's also the man you call when you need a problem fixed. The second novel in the series, BURIED SECRETS, was published June 2011.

In addition to his fiction, Joe does occasional work for Hollywood, is a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers and Council on Foreign Relations, and has written on espionage and international affairs for a number of publications, including, Forbes, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The New Republic. He roots for the Boston Red Sox and lives in Boston with his wife, daughter, and a needy golden retriever, Mia, a dropout from seeing-eye-dog school.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 106 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 29, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What the hell has Roger Heller gotten himself into? Vanished, the latest thriller from Joe Finder opens with an attack on Lauren and Roger Heller as they are leaving a Georgetown restaurant. Lauren wakes up more than 24 hours later, badly concussed. Of Roger, there is no sign. In the interim, their 14-year-old son, Gabe, has called in his uncle, Nick, for help. It is Nick Heller, brother of Roger, who Finder is setting up to be the hero of a new series of novels.

He's made a good choice. Born to a life of extreme wealth--all of which was lost in a scandal--Nick gave up the pursuit of cash and joined the armed forces. Now he works as a private investigator for a high-end DC firm. He's tough, charismatic, and extremely competent. Nick Heller strikes me as a character that could go over equally well with both men and women.

Nick and Roger haven't been close in years, but Nick can't leave his only brother's disappearance entirely in the hands of the DC police. He begins his own investigation, while at the same time continuing to look into loose threads from his last work case. The deeper he digs into each, the more convoluted these two cases become. And the more enemies he seems to acquire.

Occasionally I thought I knew where Finder was going with his story, and occasionally I was right. More often I was wrong. A couple times I was completely stunned by a plot development. Joe Finder is definitely more clever than I am. Nick Heller is also more clever than I am, and the man really knows how to throw a punch. Fight scenes in the book were unusually interesting and well-written. Additionally, take it from a native Washingtonian that the DC setting was used with specificity and authenticity. (And observations like, "Washington, D.C.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By T. Karr VINE VOICE on June 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Nick Heller is a special investigator for a D.C. firm. He takes on the toughest cases. He gets a call from his nephew, Gabe, telling him that Gabe's father, Roger Heller, has been abducted and his mother has been knocked unconscious. Nick drops his current investigation involving a billion dollar heist from the U.S. military to try to find out what has happened to Gabe's parents. Roger is Heller's older brother that he has a difficult relationship with.

Why is there no blood at the crime scene? Where is the body of Heller's brother? Was he killed? Was he kidnapped? These are the questions that keep the reader turning the pages.

Unfortunately as the pages turn there are more and more ridiculous things happening that strain credibility. For example one of the best detectives in the D.C. police department doesn't think to check all of the security cameras in the area of the abduction. Heller has techie friends at work that are willing to risk their careers, face danger, and possible jail time to help Heller satisfy his hunches. There are many more silly things that the reader has to let slide to enjoy the story.

I have read several of Finder's books. This one doesn't have the sense of humor or the business sense of his other books. It just doesn't measure up to Mr. Finder's previous efforts.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Debra Hamel VINE VOICE on September 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Joe Finder's novel Vanished, the first in a new series, features Nick Heller as an ex-Special Forces guy who works at a high-end private detective agency in Washington, D.C. He and his brother Roger grew up in opulence, but the chauffeured rides to school ended when their father became the Kenneth Lay of his era. His arrest caused a rift between the once inseparable brothers. In this debut, Nick is finishing up an investigation into a plane-load of stolen money when he learns from Roger's stepson, Gabe, that Roger and his wife Lauren have been attacked in Georgetown. Lauren is in the hospital and Roger has disappeared. Trying to locate his brother and figure out what prompted the attack leads Nick into some seriously dangerous situations, many of them involving the burly, thick-necked employees of a Blackwater-type private security firm.

Nick Heller is the sort of character I enjoy in a thriller: we don't learn much about his softer side, it's true--there's time for that in subsequent installments in the series--but he's ultra-competent and quick on his feet. The plot of Finder's book is, I suppose, admirable in its intricacy, but I confess that, having just finished reading it, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you exactly what was going on. Nick uncovered various plots centered on his brother. People we thought were uninvolved were in fact complicit. It was all a bit too complicated. And some specific incidents left me wondering: Why was someone going around gouging out people's eyeballs? I don't know! How was Nick able to stealthily carry a stepladder around a military complex in the middle of the night? (Especially the part where he pulled the ladder up through a window after himself with guards relatively nearby. Surely that would make a lot of noise.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Mal Warwick on February 13, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Start with the author's acknowledgments at the end of this book, and you'll get a sense of the complexity of this story and the extent of the research he conducted. Like many of Finder's other novels, "Vanished" is an accomplished thriller -- a proverbial page-turner that uses all the tricks of the writer's craft to draw the reader from one minuscule chapter to the next. (There are 99 chapters in this book.)

Unfortunately, unlike other of Finder's novels that I've read, this book is disappointingly flawed by what in the film industry would be tagged as egregious errors of continuity. These errors rob the story of its already marginal credibility, given the exaggerated competence of its hero, former Special Forces soldier and investigator par excellence, Nick Heller.

At one point, Heller refers to visiting his father in prison at a time he'd noted only a few pages earlier that the old man was in hiding overseas. There are other, lesser slipups as well, and if these were the only flaws in the story, I would be less disgruntled with the book. Unfortunately, in the story's climax, a large number of police officers show up to save the day mere minutes after having been called -- to a location at least half an hour away from their station.

I'd picked up this novel with great anticipation, having been enthralled with three of Finder's earlier thriller, all of them about industrial espionage. I'm hoping Finder is less sloppy in future efforts.

(From Mal Warwick's Blog on Books)
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