My rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Sam Wren got onto the Tube train on the morning of 16 December. But he never got off. He vanished without a trace, not even leaving so much as a shadow on security cameras. Six months later, his wife Julia makes the decision to reach out to David Raker. And so, the missing persons investigator created by Tim Weaver finds himself on the hunt for another lost person. Raker knows that the lives of people who go missing are filled with secrets. But even he isn’t prepared for the web of lies that waits for him. As he discovers that there was more to Sam’s life than anyone knew, he learns that he can’t trust anyone. Danger grows as Raker’s path crosses with old acquaintances and new threats come to light. And before he realizes, Raker is pulled into the dark depths that he’d vowed to avoid – depths that, as he realizes, he cannot avoid. Because the only thing that matters is finding those who are lost… even if that means that he doesn’t know when to stop.
The first thing I’d say about Vanished is that it wasn’t as good as its predecessors. It lacked that chill that was so excellently included in The Dead Tracks. Yet, the book manages to make it to 4 stars (instead of the 3.5 that I’d first considered). One reason for this is, of course, the story. Weaver has written an interesting tale that comes from many different angles of the past and present and converge at an unexpected conclusion. You don’t really see it coming and it definitely leaves you wanting more.
Another aspect that I thought was brilliantly done was the characterization. Weaver’s characters are very human. They are flawed, they have ambition, they want revenge and they get hurt – emotionally and physically. And their complexity is what is so easy to associate with. While I can appreciate near-superhuman protagonists (read Jack Reacher, who I think is awesome in his own way), there is an extraordinary ordinariness to David Raker that makes Vanished so very enjoyable. Weaver captures his protagonist’s strengths and weaknesses almost perfectly, exploiting them to create a story that is believable.
Throw a little bit of criminal psychology into this mix of twists-and-turns filled story and relatable characters, and you get an interesting read that you can’t put down. And when you finally do, it’s only to wonder just what the heck is going to happen next (this is where I’m grateful that I discovered his books late enough to not have to wait for the next one to still come out).
As a chilling thriller, Vanished falls just short of the mark. But as a gripping mystery bordering on thriller, it does just fine. It can be read as a stand alone without having to read its prequels. But if you’re a first timer for Tim Weaver’s work, then maybe begin with The Dead Tracks or Chasing the Dead. If you’ve been following the Raker series, then don’t miss this one – it has some of the best insights into Raker and other regular characters. All in all, a great read for mystery and thriller lovers and for Tim Weaver fans too.