Genres: Mystery Romance, Romantic Suspense
Published by Brilliance Audio
Released on June 24, 2014
Source: Kindle Unlimited
After enjoying the author’s The Last Sister released a few weeks ago, I wanted to go back and get the series it spun from. I’m already a huge fan after reading the author’s Mercy Kilpatrick series so I had no doubt I would enjoy this other romance pair who happened to both be in two different branches of law enforcement and detective work.
Vanished introduced Mason Callahan, tough ‘live-for-his-work’ Oregon State Police Detective working out of Portland when he finds out one of his Confidential Informants seems to have been killed by her involvement in the drugs or prostitution scene she is part of. He really thought she was turning things around and now he’s off the case because he’s too close to the victim. His day only gets worse when he gets a call from his ex-wife that her step-daughter went missing somewhere between home and school. He rushes to the scene to do what he can arriving to see the FBI already conducting interviews and starting the search. He is particularly taken by the calm, husky low-voiced Agent Ava McLane who sets the family at ease and helps get them through the interviews that will send the investigators in the right direction.
Ava doesn’t feel comfortable being assigned as the family liaison, but she will do her best to comfort the family even while taking on the task of helping find the missing girl. It amazes her to see the father with his second wife and the mother all amicably holding strong and holding together. She is struck by the old-fashioned true blue down to his cowboy hat and boots, OSP detective standing strong with his ex-wife’s new family and unobtrusively being what they need even when she learns he is going through a trial by fire at his beloved job when evidence being turned up at the prostitute’s death lead straight to him and he is forced on administrative leave. He keeps his head in the game of finding Henley and stands by Ava when her narcissistic addiction-prone twin sister busts into her life right when she needs no distractions.
Off to the side, Mason’s college-age son Jake looks on and studies the adults around him even as he worries for his little sister not realizing that the one who took Henley watches his dad for every ounce of pain that can be extracted out of Mason Callahan and taking Henley is only part of the cruel plot of revenge.
Ava and Mason were great lead characters and nothing shows this better than their dedication to do whatever it takes to bring a little girl home safely even if its stepping up with other people and working through exhaustion. But, its more when they are both going through person pain and support each other through this. I love the working dynamics of her being FBI and him being State Police, both are detectives, and investigating dark crime. There is respect and shared professional skill. Their relationship develops organically and makes sense within the bounds of an investigation. I love that the author recognizes that and how to balance work and private lives for this budding relationship.
The police procedural side was handled well especially since there were several agencies working together though the book focused on Ava’s FBI team and Mason’s State Police partner and office group.
The suspense element of the kidnapping was gripping from the start and even the murder mystery of Mason’s informant kept things interesting off to the side. There was that delving into the family dynamics to look for clues as to who took Henley and even the occasional narration bits from the kidnapper to add tension. As usual, there were a few good intense action scenes and a big reveal that came with the big climax to keep me riveted.
I enjoyed Vanished using Amazon’s Whispersync option so I both read and listened to this in turns. I liked the dual narration work of new to me, Nick Podehl and familiar Amy McFadden. They took turns voicing Mason and Ava’s points of views and did all the characters. They were both good at male and female voices and caught the tension in the story really well. But, I did struggle with the switches between them and had to get settled back into the story particularly in the beginning. I think it didn’t help that the switches were sometimes quickly happening and several times within the same chapters. That said, I eventually got used to it for the most part and could just enjoy the story.
It was fun seeing Zander Wells, the FBI hero in Last Sister, introduced as a clever side character in this one and I can look forward to seeing how he eventually becomes Ava’s work partner.
All in all, this was exactly what I was anticipating and I flew through this book because it had me engaged from the get-go. I’m glad that I have more stories in the series to anticipate. Those who enjoy romantic suspense between strong, intelligent characters, a mature slow-burn, sensual romance, and a clever, moderately gritty suspense should give this one a go.
Literary Pickers #39 Cover with a shadow figure