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    Review of VANISHED by Joseph Finder (see his website)

    St. Martin's Press, August 2009

    Ex-Green Beret Nick Heller works private security. When his nephew calls to say Nick's brother has vanished, apparently a kidnap victim, Nick drops everything to go to work. While he and his brother have drifted apart, Nick fondly remembers the years they spent with nobody to count on besides themselves. Certainly he can't count on his father who's serving a long term for fraud and financial misdealings. As Nick investigates, all of the clues point to a mysterious company that provides mercenary soldiers and torturers for the US Government.

    At first, it's hard to piece together the evidence. The kidnapping seems weird--especially as there have been no ransom demands. But with his father's help, Nick learns that his brother may have been blackmailing the mercenary company--definitely a dangerous plan. Nick's investigation takes its toll, though, including getting a friend at his regular job fired.

    Author Joseph Finder (see more reviews of novels by Finder) turns from the everyman protagonist of his earlier books to a more standard hero-type. Nick has the goods on a lot of people (including his boss), and has friends in high (and low) places who can quickly pitch in to handle advanced safe-cracking, bug-spotting, or computer hacking. I actually prefer the everyman-type protagonist, but Finder is such a capable writer that Nick doesn't quite seem over the top with his many skills.

    VANISHED gains emotional intensity from the family connections. Nick's brother is missing, his father in jail, his sister-in-law injured and hurting, his nephew angry and rebellious. Worse, none of them are prepared to give Nick the facts he needs to get to the bottom of the mystery, to rescue his brother.

    VANISHED is strongly written, with escalating action and with Nick facing both physical and intellectual challenges. This was a hard book to put down and I'm already looking forward to more of Nick Heller and of Joseph Finder.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 5/10/09

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