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So why Jeffrey Deaver? I have no idea! I often buy books at Asda but at this time of year its all autobiographies and 'special' pressie books. Not too keen on 'chick lit', and mentioning, on the book as of this book as it does, that it features a forensic criminologist, it had to be this one.
I know nothing about Jeffrey Deaver and I'm not really that interested in knowing all about the authors. In fact I'd never heard of this writer and I consider myself quite well read. I was surprised to find this is actually his 18th book. 'The Vanished Man' is actually the 5th in the 'lincoln Rhyme' (said forensic crimininologist) series.
Am I therefore at a loss already. Sometimes joining the middle of a series can be difficult, but only, in my opinion if the book is part of a series, take Edding 'The Belgariad' for example. Take any of the Kay Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell and you can jump righ in. So how would Mr Deaver deal with that.
Well, it started quite promising, all murder mysteries should start with a murder in an old spooky building and this one doesn't fail. Rather swiftly the murderer is spotted and chased into an empty room with no other exits. Cornering the suspect the cops move in, suddenly theres a flash of light an the suspect is nowhere to be seen. Thus 'The Vanished Man' is introduced and the bizarre tricks and events have just started.
This entire book is made of twist and turns and bizarre happenings. Not in the conventional sense because the 'Vanished Man' is a magician, not any tin pot kids entertainer but an illusionist, quick change artist with a small i8nterest in the occult. The murders take the form of famous magic tricks. SO not only do the police have a serial killer on their hands but a serial killer who dabbles with reality and makes life a bit more interesting!
An unusual premise is fine, but for me characters are one of, if not the most important part of the book, and for me this is where things go a bit wrong.
Lincoln Rhyme, renowned criminologist. Deaver has made the unfortunate mistake of making a stereotype whilst attempting to break the stereotypes. The notion of physical deficiencies are no more expanded on than in crime books and films. Females, detectives in wheelchairs, blind detectives, trying to think of a deaf one, but that would probably make a difficult book. But nope, Deaver has gone beyond this, Lincoln Rhyme is a quadriplegic, completely paralysed from the neck down apart from the ring finger on his left hand. I hope none of you are taking this the wrong way, quadriplegics of course live and function in the same way that able bodied do. But Deaver has made a gaff here, nor unfortunately is Rhymes shown as a strong character, in fact his disability shows nothing but his flaws and weaknesses, and at one point in a VERY bad way.
The other major character is Rhymes lover, Amelia Sachs. Now she is a stereotype, tough, attractive, no-nonsense cop, who wants to be like her dad and become a detective. Dear Hod, all that was needed was an Italian surname and dad that died in the line of duty. Sachs is a million other female cops in another million crime books and is very disappointing.
Other regulars include Thom, his aide. Gay? Well implied, from the language used. Theres also another couple of cops hanging around and whose name I've already forgotten because they are so superficial. Characters as padding? Perish the thought. So theres the cast and crew lined up and enter Kara, a trainee magician to help solve the murders. But Kara isn't her real name and she has a mysterious background, innocent as she seems.
So did I like this book, Could I put it down? No and Yes! Actually I was amazed to see Deaver had already written and sold as many books, I would have put it down as a first novel! The dialogue can be stilted and amateurish, the language, over the top and then too simplified. He does describe the magic tricks extremely well., in fact I'm surprised the Magic Circle haven't slapped an injunction on him! But then, that's just copying out of a book, that's not the writers own imagination.
Deaver has got an imagination though. very hyperactive as it happens, this is probably best shown in the twists and turns of the novel. Its a thriller, theres got to be twists and turns right? A good twist always makes for a good novel. But Deaver has so many twists I felt as sick as I did when, against my own judgement, I went on that twisty turny thing at Thorpe Park on the Ciao Meet. Theres a different twist every single page and at the beginning it was really good and thought-provoking, but soon that changed to 'Oh My God, just get on with it'. They became gratuitous, it was almost as if he had read a book on how to write a good thriller and took the section on 'Twists and Turns' too literally!! And so eventually we got to the end, and boy was I glad!!
So a book with: a main characters who's really superfluous to the whole thing and every time he seems to speak it just to say something sarcastic, a stereotypical sidekick, crap dialogue, stereotypical scenes, the places had no substance to them and too much gobbledygook and twists! A pity really because it has great potential as a concept. As you can see I didn't like it and I don't recommend you buy it. If it still tickles your fancy, get it from the library!!
This isn't Deaver's best, for sure, but I really enjoyed it. I thought a lot of the twists in the plot mirrored the twists they were talking about as being used in a magic act, which seemed pretty clever to me.
Lucie_S1984 01.01.2005 20:16
Not sure I like the idea of a "Vanished Man" really! Lucie xxx