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Paperback review: The Vanishing Point, By Val McDermid

Child abduction mystery that grips and won't let go

The story opens at O'Hare airport in Chicago, where Stephanie Harker is going through security with her adopted five-year-old son, Jimmy.

In the moments that they are separated he's led away by a man in uniform; when Stephanie tries to break through the barrier she is tasered by security staff. By the time she can explain, Jimmy has vanished. As the hunt for him intensifies, we learn about Stephanie's backstory and her friendship with reality TV star Scarlett (who seems to be modelled, at least partly, on Jade Goody). In some ways it's a mild satire on celebrity culture; but mainly it's an efficiently crafted psychological thriller with an ending that knocks you sideways.