No life is perfect. Everyone has secrets. For millions of Londoners, the morning of 17 December is just like any other. But not for Sam Wren. An hour after leaving home, he gets onto a tube train – and never gets off again. No eyewitnesses. No trace of him on security cameras. Six months later, he’s still missing. Out of options and desperate for answers, Sam’s wife Julia hires David Raker to track him down. Raker has made a career out of finding the lost. He knows how they think. And, in missing person cases, the only certainty is that everyone has something to hide. But in this case the secrets go deeper than anyone imagined.For, as Raker starts to suspect that even the police are lying to him, someone is watching. Someone who knows what happened on the tube that day. And, with Raker in his sights, he’ll do anything to keep Sam’s secrets to himself . . .
Despite having already published two highly successful crime novels ‘Chasing The Dead’ and ‘The Dead Tracks’ featuring missing persons investigator, David Raker, this was my first foray into Weaver’s world and found this a well-crafted and dark psychological thriller. Although I was playing catch-up character-wise, Weaver’s exemplery and unintrusive insertion of back story made sure I was more than up to speed with Raker’s background and the causes of his uneasy relationship with the emotionally haunted detective Colm Healy. As Raker embarks on an intriguing missing persons case, layers of mystery unfold regarding the missing man, leading Raker back into the path of Healy who is himself on the trail of an elusive abductor ‘The Snatcher’- a man targeting homosexual men who is not all he appears to be. Healy is probably the most complex and interesting character of the whole affair, mentally tortured by the disintergration of his marriage and the murder of his daughter, and what we see is a man in need of revenge and redemption. Healy, we discover, is playing the long game by insinuating himself back into the police force after these events, but also trying to gain access to someone who has a played a part in the cause of his emotional turmoil- I’ll say no more. Although Raker is an altogether different character to Healy, he is no less determined and focused when tasked with finding the elusive Sam Wren, as Healy is in his search for ‘The Snatcher, putting himself in physical danger and uncovering a world of sordid and violent goings on that may be a little graphic for some readers. Weaver interlinks the two plot lines skilfully so the conflicting investigations of both men seem to naturally diverge, setting up the interesting interplay of their characters. We see a grudging but mutual respect develop between the two, which makes the bombshell events at the conclusion of the book all the more affecting.
I know in previous reviews I have criticised authors for not adhering to the 400 page rule but in this case the drift to over 500 did not irk me half as much as I thought it would! Due to the solid plotting and the overlapping stories, I think Weaver pretty much gets away with it and there are plenty of red herrings and surprises along the way that held my attention. This may also be due in part to my weird fascination with the London Underground, as Weaver incorporates a good amount of detail about the history of the Tube which is enough to be interesting but not enough to be show-offy, with the scenes in the disused tube stations being particularly effective and really quite sinister. All I would say is that if you use the Tube regularly, be on your guard!
I would certainly recommend this to lovers of the darker strand of crime fiction in the mould of writers such as Mo Hayder or Brian Freeman, and overall I found this an entertaining and satisfying read if a little disturbing…
Tim Weaver is the Sunday Times bestselling author of Chasing the Dead, its critically acclaimed follow-up The Dead Tracks, and Vanished, the latest novel to feature missing persons investigator David Raker. A journalist by day, Tim has written for some of the country’s biggest newspapers and most iconic magazine brands. Find out more about Tim and his writing here: http://www.timweaverbooks.com/
(I bought this paperback copy of ‘Vanished’)