Sunday, July 25, 2021

Vanishing Point by Val McDermid

Author: Val McDermid
Publication: Grove Press, paperback, 2013 (originally published 2012)
Genre: Suspense
Description: Stephanie Harker is traveling through O’Hare Airport in Chicago with 5-year-old Jimmy when she is detained at security. During the extended patdown, Jimmy is abducted and Stephanie is tasered by security who misunderstand her agitation. Finally, FBI agent Vivian McKuras is assigned to investigate and Stephanie explains how she became acquainted with Jimmy’s reality star birth mother to determine who might be involved in his disappearance. The key to finding Jimmy lies in the past and it is up to not just the FBI but also Stephanie and her friend detective Nick Nicolaides to untangle a sea of lies.

My Impression: This book is a real departure from McDermid’s Carol Jordan and Tony Hill books but I can see the appeal in creating a standalone. Overall, it was an entertaining, fast-paced read although there were a lot of inconsistencies in the plot and the last section of the book was completely improbable, which does negatively impact one's feelings about a book after reading. Stephanie’s drawn-out description to the FBI agent of her career as a ghostwriter and how she got drawn into reality star Scarlett Higgins was the most interesting part of the story, although in the immediate crisis of a kidnapping rather than a plot device, this would have been condensed to a few sentences. Incidentally, there is a back story to the FBI agent who is trying to redeem herself to her superiors by finding Jimmy and this is left unresolved after the reader is invested in Vivian as a character.

Val McDermid came to Boston for an event at the Brookline Booksmith several years ago and was a very enjoyable speaker, telling stories and mentioning specifically her love of libraries. Her lovely Scottish accent certainly added to the charm of the evening. It was fun to talk to her and she autographed my copy of this book. I have not yet tried her Kate Brannigan series and now I see she has written several more series of which I wasn’t even aware.  The cover of this book is a very low budget effort by the publisher.
Vanishing Point is one of my 20 Books of Summer.  If you are a Jane Austen fan, I recommend McDermid's modern version of Northanger Abbey (my review).  This is also my nineteenth book for the Cloak and Dagger Challenge.
Source: Personal copy


Lark said...

Plot inconsistencies and improbable endings definitely will make me love a book less!

Ruthiella said...

I've read exactly two each from McDermid's Tony Hill and Karen Pirie series. But my favorite from her is the Stand Alone, A Place of Execution. It was gripping. I will probably skip this one since plot inconstancies drive me crazy in a mystery where PLOT IS EVERYTHING.

I've heard Val McDermid on various podcasts and interviews and she comes across as a really lovely and down to earth person.

TracyK said...

I have tried two of Val McDermid's mysteries. I liked the first entry in the Karen Pirie series, The Distant Echo. I read the first book in the Tony Hill series but could not continue, too much torture and tension for me. This one sounds like a possibility, but I am more likely to continue the Karen Pirie series for now.

JaneGS said...

I tried McDermid's take on NA but I wasn't in the right mood at the time. I really like the premise of this one, and was all set to give it a go until I read how you were disenchanted with the ending. I find botched endings just spoil an otherwise good book.

Buried In Print said...

I always enjoy her in interview and she often recommends other writers' mysteries, which I also appreciate. I've read some of her Laura Brannigans and one of her series and found them very entertaining but would like to binge her stuff at some point.

CLM said...

My criticism of the Tony Hill series is that the crimes are very gruesome, including one with a horrible rape scene. I don't know if her other series contain as much violence. In some books, it is easy to ignore but somehow with McDermid it is not. Perhaps that is why I liked this book which has more narrative than depiction of the crime.