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Monday, 28 December 2015

Val McDermid - vanishing point

review by showhost
O'Hare airport, Chicago.  Stephanie Harker is taking five year old Jimmy on holiday to America.  As is usual, the metal detector sounds as Stephanie passes through due to a steel plate in her leg.  Jimmy has already gone through.  As Stephanie is waiting to be frisked down, Jimmy is approached by an airport security man and they walk away.  Stephanie shouts and tries to go after them but all the airport security team see is a woman trying to escape, to avoid being frisked and shouting/screaming.  They taser her to restrain her.  By the time she has chance to explain about Jimmy he has disappeared and a child kidnapping is launched.
The majority of the story is Stephanies tale of how she got to this point.  Which at times I found myself wondering if the FBI and Stephanie would sit and have this really long life history/chat when every minute was ticking away in the hunt for Jimmy. 
Stephanie is a ghost writer for celebrities.  She became the ghost writer for Scarlett Higgins, a girl who got her fame from reality tv.  During the writing of Scarletts story Stephanie forms a strong friendship.  Scarlett is not the vacuous bimbo she is portrayed in the media but a sharp, shrewd young woman (and lets face it if Scarlett really were the loud-mouthed dumb blonde she appears to be on television, her friendship with Steph would be implausible).  Scarlett becomes pregnant and the father is her partner Joshu, who is a minor celeb, junkie DJ.  When the baby is born Stephanie is one of the godparents.  Steph has to deal with her own partner Pete who becomes obsessive about her spending so much time around at Scarletts and becomes almost abusive to keep her at home and stalks her when she leaves him.
Scarlett finds out she has cancer, and when she discovers it is terminal she wants Stephanie to look after/adopt her 5 year old son, Jimmy after her death.  Who has kidnapped Jimmy and why? 
The build up to the event is interesting and builds the characters.  The ending wasn't what I expected so the red herrings fooled me but left lots of unanswered questions like what we're they going to tell the US police about how they got Jimmy back?  I kept thinking about Jade Goody when reading this book as so much was very similar to part of her life.  I thought it was going to be a frenzied race against time to find the boy kind of book but it wasn't.
Did I like it?  Well it kept me interested, albeit with some events seeming quite improbable.  But the ending was totally out of character for Steph and so abrupt.  I would probably give it 3.5 stars out of 5

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