A writer of Val McDermid's calibre does not go unrewarded. The Vanishing Point's credits list a CWA Gold Dagger for a previous novel and a Stonewall Writer of the Year award among various other achievements. A new suspense title from her should, one supposes, come as a treat for the discerning reader.
The mystery gets off to a promising start with the sudden disappearance of a child at an airport.
But when five-year-old Jimmy Higgins is snatched away by a passing stranger, his guardian Stephanie Harker is determined to retrieve him at all costs, even at the expense of 200 pages of convoluted flashbacks to the boy's tragic past.
By the time airport officials are able to get a lead on the kidnapper's whereabouts, it's three-quarters of the way through the story. And that was just the easy part.
Eventually, a healthy amount of suspended disbelief will be needed to absorb the rest of the conveniently placed plot twists that lie at the end. By then, it becomes clear that The Vanishing Point is more contrived than clever.