The Vanished Man, by Jeffery Deaver

Cover ImageFinished 6-3-09, rating 4.5/5, mystery/thriller, pub. 2003

This is the 5th book in the Lincoln Rhymes series

Kara asked, “You know what illusion is?”

“David Copperfield,” Sachs replied, shrugging, “Houdini.”

“Copperfield, yes.  Houdini, no – he was an escapist.  Well, illusion’s different from sleight of hand or close-in magic, we call it.  Like…” Kara held up a quarter in her fingers, change from the coffee.  She closed her palm and when she opened it again the coin was gone.

Sachs laughed.  Where the hell had it gone?

“That was sleight of hand.  Illusion is tricks involving large objects or people or animals.  What you just described, that that killer did, is a classic illusionist trick.  It’s called the Vanished Man.”

Chapter 7

Paraplegic forensic specialist, Lincoln Rhymes is back with his girlfriend and partner in crime Amelia Sachs.  This time the NYPD has them working on a case involving a man who proves to be so illusive that he can vanish from a room and be standing right in front of you and you wouldn’t know it.  Based on some evidence they found at the scene, they decided that he was a magician and brought in Kara, an aspiring magician, to help them figure out this killer’s next move. 

This is an over-the-top mystery that has more twits and turns than probably necessary, but every one was exciting.  I never quite got a handle on what the killer was up to and I was surprised right up to the end.  Note that I did mention is was over-the-top.  Many of the twist stretched the limits of believability, but that’s what made this fun for me.

I loved the insights into the world of illusion.  The killer also uses mentalism.  So, if you like the television show The Mentalist you will appreciate this guide to his tricks! 

I also really liked the growing, yet understated relationship between Lincoln and Amelia.  And Amelia’s quest to become a Sergeant really made me root for her in a way that I haven’t in earlier books.

If you like CSI (any of them) this is the series for you!  As always, start at the beginning, The Bone Collector.