Written by John Connor — Author John Connor became a barrister in 1988 and spent 15 years working for the Crown Prosecution Service in London and West Yorkshire. He was involved in over 30 homicide prosecutions and provided advice to the police in numerous undercover operations. Not to be confused with the character in the Terminator films, Connor is known for his Karen Sharpe series. However, The Vanishing is a standalone novel.
The storyl begins in 1990 in the Seychelles with a woman identified as Liz Wellbeck screaming and wailing. It comes to light that Liz was unable to have children of her own, so she pays two people named Arisha and Maxim to steal a child for her. Unfortunately, the baby gets sick and soon dies.
The story then skips to London in 2012 and we are introduced to former policeman Tom Lomax. Tom is given a note by a solicitor informing him that a woman named Sara Eaton would like to talk him and he will be paid generously for his time. A private jet is waiting to take him to the Seychelles. Intrigued and unable to say no, Tom agrees and 18 hours later he finds himself landing in the Seychelles.
Sara has requested to see Tom because she has received an encrypted note from her mother – one which informs her that her mother cannot put things right, but must try to help those she has inflicted with suffering and loss before it’s too late. The note tells Sara she must contact Tom Lomax who will tell her why. Whilst Tom is on the island a group of kidnappers brake into Sara’s house. This is the start of a gripping journey for Tom and Sara to understand what her mum meant and more importantly to stay alive.
The story switches between two plotlines – that of Tom and Sara, and that of Rachel Gower, who 22 years ago had her daughter Lauren Gower snatched from the nursery of the Wellbeck Clinic. Since her daughter’s disappearance Rachel’s life has never been the same and she has been left with a gaping hole that has never been filled.
The Vanishing is an exciting and interesting read, however it does get a little long-winded at times. Early on, it is hard to keep up with the story flipping between Sara Eaten and Rachel Gower and you may struggle to make sense of it at times. In places, it also feels as though the story is slightly far-fetched, which makes it hard to engage with wholly.
However, overall the novel is enjoyable and entertaining. I knew there was a link to be made between the two stories, but exactly what that link was remained hidden right up until the end. I felt empathy for Sara who was brought up alone by people who were paid to love her – she clearly lived a clearly lonely existence. This made her relationship with Tom even more exciting and you might even begin to wish them into something more than just friendship. Sara is an easy character to engage with since she is a strong and independent woman instead of being the spoiled little brat she could easily have been.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars