Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Vanishing Point” as Want to Read:
The Vanishing Point
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Vanishing Point

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  3,498 ratings  ·  543 reviews
One of the finest crime writers we have, Val McDermid’s heart-stopping thrillers have won her international renown and a devoted following of readers worldwide. In The Vanishing Point, she kicks off a terrifying thriller with a nightmare scenario: a parent who loses her child in a bustling international airport.

Young Jimmy Higgins is snatched from an airport security check
Hardcover, 438 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2012)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Vanishing Point, please sign up.
Recent Questions
This question contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.64  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,498 ratings  ·  543 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Vanishing Point
Sep 14, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

I've been reading Val McDermid since the early 1990s, when I was introduced to her Kate Brannigan series. While I haven't loved all of her novels, I've considered her to be a reliable crime fiction writer with a range extending from quirky private detective stories, to solid police procedurals, to more gruesome psychological thrillers.

This is McDermid’s most recent stand-alone thriller. It starts out well, if implausibly. Five year old Jimmy Higgins is abducted from O’Hare Airport while his gua
In one word: disappointing.

I usually always like Val McDermid's books but this was a weird one.

A small boy is kidnapped right in front of her guardian while passing through security in an American airport. Okay... the first few pages are riveting, you want to know what happened to the child, will he be saved, will the kidnapper strike again, etc.

But then, her guardian is interviewed by the FBI and she starts talking about the kid's background. She starts way before his birth and it goes on and o
Bill Kupersmith
Oct 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
For sheer variety of fascinating characters and settings, I believe that Val McDermid has no rivals amongst ontemporary mystery story writers. She has introduced me to Scottish miners, German rivercraft, Cambridge academics, and lots of police officers and profilers not to mention Fletcher Christian of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. I expect most of her followers will not find The Vanishing Point a favourite and my own rating is perhaps a bit generous. But I read it non-stop (it waw a quiet night at ...more
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was my first Val McDermid book and while I didn't rate it very highly, I finished the book thinking I will probably try another one of her books. She writes very well,the plot moved along, and many of the characters were well-fleshed out. The narrative unfolds both in the present day and in flash-backs, which has the potential to be confusing, but McDermid does it well and it was easy to follow what was going on. I liked her heroine, Stephanie Harker and her beau, Nick.

But there were severa
Rob Kitchin
Dec 08, 2012 rated it liked it
The Vanishing Point tries to mash together a conventional thriller with c-list celebrity culture. Stephanie Harker is a professional ghost writer who drafts the life stories of famous folk and Jimmy is the son of a reality television star, Scarlett Higgins, a kind of cross between Jade Goody and Katie Price that draws heavily on aspects of both these women’s lives (most definitely in the case of Goody). The opening premise and performance of the abduction is nicely done, providing a tense entree ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This was my first foray into the work of Val McDermid. There are a lot of McDermid fans out there who are not keen on this book, as the format is different to previous works , but for me , that wasnt a problem.
I loved this story - a gripping story, well told, kept me page turning when I needed to go to sleep , and the ending was completely unexpected !!!
I have heard that some people have avoided this book due to comparisons with one of the main characters and Jade Goody, the girl who died tragi
Gloria Feit
Sep 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In her twenty-sixth novel, a standalone, Val McDermid goes rather far afield from her previous books. It opens with a child abduction at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago. While a passenger is going through an airport security check, a man in what appears to be a TSA uniform appears and guides the five-year-old boy traveling with her through the terminal and they both seem to disappear. It soon falls to 27-year-old FBI Special Agent Vivian McKuras to interview the woman, Stephanie Harker, ...more
Sep 11, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was really excited to see the new Val McDermid book come into my local library and hoped for great things, as the last two books were not as good as her previous ones. This one disappointed me to no end. I may be just getting to a stage where this particular type of crime fiction novel does not cut it for me anymore and I can't just take it as suspending your sense of belief and rolling with it. However, it was just a step too far into the utterly incredible and unbelievable, where the plot wa ...more
Lelia Taylor
Sep 08, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: full-reviews
There are certain authors I always can count on to provide me with an excellent read, a brief escape into a world I can laugh at or be mesmerized by, a world that shakes me to the core for one reason or another. I understand, though, that many of those authors whose work I admire so much might stumble now and then. The Vanishing Point is Val McDermid‘s stumble.

Ms. McDermid is a wonderful writer—I have enjoyed everything of hers I’ve read until this one—and even this has some redeeming aspects. I
Erika Nerdypants
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS I love Val McDermid, because she is not afraid to go places other crime writers don't dare venture, but the last three novels have left me underwhelmed. It was nice to meet Charlie Flint and Nick from last year's "A Trick of the Dark" again, but there were gaping holes in this story, with a very abrupt ending that I had already seen coming. Steph, the protagonist, was unconvincing for me right from the start. Stalked by her ex-boyfriend she refuses to contact the po ...more
L.M. Krier
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it
If this had been one of those mystery book in a plain brown wrapper, I would never have guessed that it came from the pen of the mighty Val McDermid. It rather gets lost at times in its own cleverness of trying to be different. It's certainly that.

It starts out promisingly enough. Five-year-old Jimmy Higgins is abducted from a busy airport in the USA where he has gone on holiday with his legal guardian, Stephanie. A metal plate in her leg sets off the alarms and as she's hauled off to be searche
Joanne Sheppard
Nov 15, 2014 rated it liked it
The Vanishing Point is a standalone novel which begins with a woman, Steph, helplessly watching her child being abducted at an American airport while she is being detained by security. In order for the authorities to build a picture of whomever might have taken Jimmy, it's necessary for Steph to explain the complicated backstory that led up to her travelling to the States with the boy in the first place.

It's this backstory that forms the bulk of the narrative of The Vanishing Point, interspersed
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Right- so you read the synopsis of the book and think this sounds intriguing and what an excellent premise for a crime novel. Now excuse me if I’ve missed the point but what follows an initially promising first couple of chapters is an absolute flight of fancy and I think McDermid is just playing with her readers a wee bit! I like to think that McDermid had her tongue very firmly planted in her cheek throughout the writing of the book as she shamelessly draws on the most nauseating aspects of ‘r ...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This is rather a different type of book for McDermid, definitely not as dark as her previous works. It starts with a kidnapping and than the reader learns through back stories what led up to the crime. As usual this is well written but it is a more of a mainstream plot, though it did keep me reading. So it did capture my interest and there are many interesting aspects to this book. the making of a reality star for one, but of course there is a twist. I did like it but not quite as much as her us ...more
Apr 03, 2015 rated it did not like it
A drawn out, far-fetched eye roll of a book. The concept of the abducted child and the "whodunnit' theme was mildly entertaining but the back story just didn't hold my interest at all. I finished this book with a sigh and a "fair enough" and carried on with my day. I'm afraid I haven't got much else to say about this.

Not the thriller I thought it would be but thankfully it wasn't one of those confusing books trying to be impressive. It was just a bland 500+ pages.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
I read this for the 2018 Read Harder challenge: "A mystery by a person of color or LGBTQ+ author." It was the first Val McDermid novel I've read, and it had a slow start for me, but once I got into it and the story picked up I really liked it. I read most of it in one sitting, maybe that helped. I liked this well enough, but I did call the ending and several of the plot twists from 100 pages out. (One plot twist seemed so obvious that I was rolling my eyes waiting for the characters to figure it ...more
Rhuddem Gwelin
Aug 20, 2020 rated it did not like it
For about 350 pages this was a 3* book. Unlikely story but quite interesting with goos characters. Then when it should have ended it took a completely new turn and the last two pages were just stupid! I don't think I have ever read a book that was so completely ruined by the end. Grrrrrr ...more
Nov 23, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fict-2-liked-ok
I have to say I was blindsided by this for reasons of my own reading preferences. I am totally a chick-lit girl--big on character development and emotional depth--with the occasional step-out to make that genre fresh when I return to it. This was one of my step-out books and I was TOTALLY blown away by how good the writing was, how interested I was in the story, how drawn in I became. I loved all the aspects, thought the back story was interesting and the development of the characters well done. ...more
Jun 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, crime, 2020
Good story and characters. Lots of twists and turns. The end of the book though had the feeling of the author not knowing how to finish it, bit rushed and abrupt.
Not the best McDermid in my mind.
Description: Young Jimmy Higgins is snatched from an airport security checkpoint while his guardian watches helplessly from the glass inspection box. But this is no ordinary abduction, as Jimmy is no ordinary child. His mother was Scarlett, a reality TV star who, dying of cancer and alienated from her unreliable family, entrusted the boy to the person she believed best able to give him a happy, stable life: her ghost writer, Stephanie Harker. Assisting the FBI in their attempt to recover the mis ...more
Luanne Ollivier
Sep 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Best selling and award winning author Val McDermid has been practicing her craft for many years now. And you know what they say - practice makes perfect.

McDermid's latest book is The Vanishing Point.

British resident Stephanie Harker lands in an American airport with five year old Jimmy in tow. Stephanie sets off the alarm and is tagged for a more thorough search. While locked in the clear inspection box, she witness Jimmy being led away by away by a stranger. And she can't get anyone's attenti
Feb 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime
The framing device used in this book is clumsy, given the amount of detail that our main character goes into when she is ostensibly being interviewed by the FBI. Most first person narratives, you don't really have to wonder about the fictional audience for which they're intended; we just accept that someone is telling this story to the air, and we go with it.

But Stephanie is telling her story in a constrained situation, exactly as she would if she were one of McDermid's multiple other first pers
Sep 23, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2014
This is not one of McDermid's best. The story was verging on tedious: once or twice I nearly gave up (life's too short for tedious books). The book focuses around the story of Stephanie, a ghost writer, which I felt had so much potential for interest: it is, after all, the one profession we never to get hear about. There was very little interest generated by this fascinating way of making a living, though. Characterisation was cliched, as was much of the dialogue, which was also scattered with c ...more
Amanda Patterson
I have read most of Val McDermid’s novels. I am a fan. Sadly, I am not a fan of her latest book. The Vanishing Point doesn’t know what kind of novel it is.
Stephanie Harker’s son, Jimmy is snatched at O’Hare airport. Everything is going according to the blurb on the book. Another McDermid thriller begins. Or so I thought.
Then we are thrust into a long-winded narrative of Jimmy’s history. Steph, as she is known, is a ghost-writer. She tells the FBI the story of Jimmy, and his real mother, Scarlet
Dec 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mysteries
Airport security can be a nuisance, but in this suspense thriller, a delay in special screening for heroine Stephanie leads to the disappearance of Jimmy, the little boy she is caring for. Twists, turns and a wry commentary on modern celebrity kept me turning the pages. It was only after I put the book down that I began seeing some inconsistencies in characters' behavior. ...more
May 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
really good book with plenty of twists and turns to keep me reading x definately worth a read x
Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, mystery
There is no way I can do justice to my qualms about this novel without doing a spoiler alert, and I'm not prepared to do that. Suffice it to say that I came this close to giving this just two stars because, as good a writer as McDermid is, I felt that there were plot and character deficiencies that really crippled this story.

The basic plot: Stephanie Harker, a well-known ghost writer of celebrity books, gets a contract to write a book for a British reality TV star from a show like Big Brother. T
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Val McDermid book and I’m sad to say I wasn’t very impressed. Everything about the book’s cover (including the blurb), and descriptions/reviews such as goodreads’, paint the novel as a chilling thriller, when in reality there’s a very brief build-up to the kidnap and an almost as brief conclusion to it, with the rest of (ie majority of) the book devoted to the protagonist explaining to an FBI agent (and thus to us) the unnecessarily long story* of how she came to be the kidnapp ...more
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked it. It was a really interesting story with a good twist at the end that I never saw coming in a lifetime. I listened to the Audible version, and the performer is brilliant, she does an amazing job, so I can recommend the book as well as this particular edition. I think the reader's performance actually improves the book! ...more
Steve Center
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Intense. Excellent ending
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: The Vanishing Point by Val McDermid 1 1 May 17, 2013 10:32AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Song for the Dark Times (Inspector Rebus #23)
  • The Postscript Murders (Harbinder Kaur #2)
  • The Darkest Evening (Vera Stanhope, #9)
  • Find Them Dead (Roy Grace, #16)
  • The Boy Who Fell (Inspector Tom Reynolds, #5)
  • The Man With No Face
  • The Perfect Couple
  • The Truth
  • Wolf on a String
  • Dead at First Sight (Roy Grace, #15)
  • Allegation: the page-turning, unputdownable thriller from an exciting new voice in crime fiction
  • The Stranger's Wife (Detective Dan Riley, #3)
  • The Director
  • The Power of Self-Compassion
  • Cast Iron (The Enzo Files, #6)
  • The Shrine (DCI Ryan Mysteries, #16)
  • A Painted Doom (Wesley Peterson, #6)
  • The Patient Man (DI Jackman & DS Evans, #6)
See similar books…
Val McDermid is a No. 1 bestseller whose novels have been translated into more than thirty languages, and have sold over eleven million copies.

She has won many awards internationally, including the CWA Gold Dagger for best crime novel of the year and the LA Times Book of the Year Award. She was inducted into the ITV3 Crime Thriller Awards Hall of Fame in 2009 and was the recipient of the CWA Cart

Related Articles

Kazuo Ishiguro insists he’s an optimist about technology.  “I'm not one of these people who thinks it's going to come and destroy us,” he...
298 likes · 27 comments