As I head off for a two-week vacation, I want to recommend a wonderful thriller I just read, Joseph Finder’s “Vanished” (St. Martin’s Press). I couldn’t save this perfect beach book for my own jaunt to Delaware because I had to read “Vanished” to prepare for an interview with the author that will run in my “Book Beat” column in Sunday’s Pulse section (it should be online Saturday).
Finder has written a number of popular stand-alone suspense novels — including “Power Play” and “Killer Instinct” — but “Vanished” marks the start of the writer’s first series. Judging by the initial installment, Finder will be giving Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series a run for its money.
Like Reacher, Nick Heller is as smart as he is physically capable. He knows the way that the darker realms of our society operate and is ready to step in to aid the helpless.
Heller is an investigator on staff at a high-powered private intelligence firm that deals mainly with corporate cases.
The book centers on a painfully personal case for Nick — his estranged brother, Roger, who works for a shadowy Haliburton-style military contractor, is abducted one night outside a D.C. restaurant.
Roger’s wife, Lauren, is assaulted in the process and has no idea why her husband was taken. Nick is closer to Roger’s stepson, Gabe, than he is to his brother, and he takes on the case at the request of the teenage boy and his mother.
We learn that Nick and Roger’s father was a enormously wealthy man who was jailed in a major financial scandal and that the two sons have gone their separate ways — Nick into the Special Forces and then into private investigation work, Roger back into a business life that might be just as corrupt as the father’s.
“Vanished” teaches us a lot about the way government and business operate in D.C. and the result is a scary, impossible-to-put-down paranoid thriller cut from the same cloth as those great 1970s Watergate era thrillers written by Robert Ludlum and classic movies such as “Three Days of the Condor.”
I can’t wait to read Nick’s second adventure already set for publication next year.