Vanished by Joseph Finder (Nick Heller #1)

Vanished is the first book in the Nick Heller thriller series by Joseph Finder. I had this book sitting on one of my many shelves for several years now (the book was published in 2009 and I got it soon after), but somehow it remained unread. Until now.

I’ve read the book in July, but even after 2 months, I remember the story quite clearly. Which is a good sign for a it being a good book. The action starts right from the first chapter: Lauren and Roger Heller are out at a restaurant for a lovely dinner together. As they walk out of the restaurant, they are attacked. Roger disappears, Lauren wakes up in the hospital, and the first thing she remembers is Roger asking the attacker “Why her?”, which is not the usual phrase an attacked person would blurt out first thing.

Lauren’s 14 years old son calls Nick Heller, Roger’s estranged brother, asking him for help. Nick is a corporate intelligence specialist, an ex-Special Forces, who doesn’t back up from hardship and danger. Nick promises to come home and check out their problem.

When Lauren wakes up in the hospital room, she finds Nick there and finally decides that indeed he could be the only one to really help them, despite the fact that Robert and Nick haven’t been on good terms (which is an understatement) for many years now. Robert has literally vanished during the attack. Was he killed? Abducted? Did he escape?

Nick is in the middle of a high profile (and very sensitive) case, but he leaves the loose ends behind to go help his brother’s family. Afterall Lauren and her son are not a part of what went wrong with the two brothers so many years ago when their dad got imprisoned for some serious stuff.

Nick starts to investigate the attack, retraces the couple’s steps from the restaurant, and soon realizes that things are not as simple as they look. And maybe, just maybe Robert was involved in something more serious than being the casualty of a random attack.

The story is strong from the first to the last page. Action, suspense and tension are the main ingredients of the book, however Nick does have his humorous moments now and then, which break the somber mood at required times.

Nick is a very interesting (and charming, but tough) character. He learns stuff as he goes along (and we learn it along with him). We are not served with a ‘here’s what happened’ at the end of the book. As Nick comes across a clue, we learn about that clue as well, and we can see his logic in action. He loves his brother despite their estrangement, and doesn’t hesitate to jump into dangerous situations if it means keeping his brother’s family safe.

I really enjoy reading thriller novels, and Vanished by Joseph Finder didn’t disappoint. The ending was neatly resolved, and I never got that ‘rushed ending’ that so many first books in series are guilty of. In fact you can read this book as a standalone novel, without losing anything (except maybe character development for Nick) by not reading the next books in the series. The ending was satisfying and cleared up any remaining questions.

The writing is well done, the words flow seamlessly and it shows that this is an author who knows how to write – and he is not stumbling in the dark with a first book. Afterall Joseph Finder is the author of the famous standalone novel Paranoia, a book I’ve read many years ago, and might re-read soon just to review it here on the blog.

Overall a satisfying and enjoyable read, and as I have the next 2 books at home, I will read them soon and review them here as well.

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