Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Okay, I did not see THAT coming...

Vanished (Nick Heller)
by Joseph Finder

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., is to lying what Hershey, Pennsylvania, is to chocolate" made me smile.) Plenty of details that ring true do a lot to sell the whole story.

These days, I've got a litmus test for thrillers: Can I read it in a single day? Because it has relatively little to do with how many pages or how fast I read. It's all about a novel holding my interest for hours on end. Vanished passed with flying colors. It's not Finder's strongest work, but it's a good start to a new series.
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  1. Susan;
    Finder sounds like something I would like to listen to. What is the first book that Roger Heller shows up in. I would like to get some background on him before I listen to "Vanished"


  2. Hi PJ,

    Nice to see you here on my blog. :-)

    It's actually Nick Heller who is the protagonist. And this is the first book of the series, so you'd be getting in at the ground floor. BTW, it's not quite released yet. The pub date is August 11, 2009.

    And, FWIW, my favorite Finder novel so far is Paranoia. Highly recommended thriller.