The Vanished Man (Lincoln Rhyme Series #5)

The Vanished Man (Lincoln Rhyme Series #5)

4.3 62
by Jeffery Deaver

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From New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver—Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs must track a brilliant illusionist and escape artist whose masterful magician’s tricks are matched only by his ruthless murders.

From Jeffery Deaver’s “simply outstanding” (San Jose Mercury News) Lincoln Rhyme series comes


From New York Times bestselling author Jeffery Deaver—Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs must track a brilliant illusionist and escape artist whose masterful magician’s tricks are matched only by his ruthless murders.

From Jeffery Deaver’s “simply outstanding” (San Jose Mercury News) Lincoln Rhyme series comes this acclaimed New York Times bestseller!

Forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme is called in to work the high-profile investigation of a killer who seemingly disappeared into thin air just as the NYPD closed in. As the homicidal illusionist baits him with grisly murders that grow more diabolical with each victim, Rhyme and his protégée, Amelia Sachs, must go behind the smoke and mirrors to prevent a horrific act of vengeance that could become the greatest vanishing act of all. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Lincoln Rhymes and Amelia Sachs may have met their match. A master illusionist is murdering people, and with each mocking sleight of hand, he is moving closer to the ultimate vanishing act. Wheelchair-bound quadriplegic Rhymes and his protégé know what game the killer they dub "the Conjurer" is playing, but they can't get beyond the smoke and mirrors without exposing themselves. With its likable characters and breakneck action, this is a dazzling follow-up to Deaver's The Stone Monkey.
Romantic Times
The Vanished Man is a bar-raising installment in a series that never disappoints.
Marilyn Stasio
Among the crimes rendered with Deaver's customary grace and wit are sadistic variations on Houdini's Water Torture Cell, P. T. Selbit's neat trick of sawing a woman in half and one of Howard Thurston's animal acts, in which he brought a dead bird back to life. There is, of course, a great master design to these elegantly executed illusions, and Deaver is clever enough to string it out to almost unbearable limits of suspense. But in the end, all this trickery really does come down to ''applied physics, chemistry and psychology.''
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Not since Bill Bixby's The Magician has illusion played such a vigorous role in the investigation of a homicide. A girl is murdered, the killer is caught red-handed, then trapped in a sealed room with a hostage. A shot is fired and when the room is entered, it is empty. Deaver (The Stone Monkey; The Devil's Teardrop; etc.) summons up a fifth tale in the Lincoln Rhyme series and loads it with his trademark twist and turns. Rhyme, a quadriplegic forensic criminologist, seems to have met his match in his new foe, dubbed "The Conjurer" by the police, a master of sleight of hand, illusion and misdirection, much like Deaver himself. Grupper does a fine job of keeping the thriller on the rails, and his depiction of Malerick, a villainous master of disguise straight out of a comic book (he regularly disappears in a flash of light and smoke), is riveting. Grupper's skill with gender and accents is marvelous. The structure of the book is nicely formatted for audio, as the killer narrates his own "performances" as if he were a ringmaster announcing the latest trick, using phrases like, "And now, revered audience...." Simultaneous release with the Simon & Schuster hardcover (Forecasts, Jan. 20). (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Adam Grupper's animated narration heightens the tension in Deaver's latest psychological thriller-his fifth novel featuring quadriplegic forensic criminologist Lincoln Rhyme. Lincoln and his partner, New York policewoman Amelia Sachs, must track down a murderer who seems to have literally vanished from a locked room at the scene of the crime. Soon realizing the perpetrator is an escape artist/illusionist, Lincoln and Amelia enlist the help of Kara, a spunky aspiring illusionist, to find the serial killer they've dubbed "the Conjurer." As more bodies are discovered, Kara tells Lincoln that she believes the killer is making use of another illusionist's trick-misdirection-to throw the police off track. When the Conjurer is linked to a white supremacist group trying to assassinate a Manhattan district attorney, Lincoln and company struggle to separate the killer's real motivation from his diabolical misdirection. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.-Beth Farrell, Portage Cty. Dist. Lib., OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In this fifth case pitting quadriplegic criminalist Lincoln Rhyme against a murderous magician, Deaver (The Stone Monkey, 2002, etc.) tries his best to outdo himself—and brother, does it show. Rhyme’s adventures, in which the armchair detective has depended on NYPD Officer Amelia Sachs for his legwork (and lately for emotional succor as well), have always traded on dexterous sleight-of-hand, so it’s only natural to literalize the metaphor in the Conjuror, the malevolent illusionist who first seems bent on dispatching a random collection of New Yorkers through diverse means at precise intervals of four hours. Of course, there’s a deeper method beneath this murderous madness; of course, the mechanics of each homicidal outrage—the Russian flautist strangled by a Houdini-designed rope tie called the Lazy Hangman, the gay makeup artist sawed in half, the equestrian lawyer chained and dunked by her ankles into a Central Park pond—are fiendishly inventive and the detective work equally so; and, of course, Deaver keeps the suspense taut by repeatedly bringing the cops face to face with the Conjuror at the crime scenes and repeatedly showing him slipping through their fingers. Even so, the staggering pile of red herrings Deaver tosses in to misdirect his fans and, more improbably, the cops—is the Conjuror avenging himself on the circus manager who let his wife die in a fire? is he scheming to break upstate militiaman Andrew Constable out of jail before his trial begins? is he planning to assassinate the ADA who’s trying Constable’s high-profile case?—eventually loses its sheen, and the manhunt ends in a sprawling, anticlimactic third act in which Deaver shamelessly pullsone rabbit after another from his hat, forgetting that the trick is to find one really good rabbit and pull hard. All the prodigious energy and ingenuity of a canny performer who just doesn’t know when to quit.
From the Publisher
People Ingeniously devious....[The] plot is so crooked it could hide behind a spiral staircase.

Publishers Weekly This is prime Deaver.

Chicago Sun-Times A crackling thriller.

Product Details

Pocket Books
Publication date:
Lincoln Rhyme Series , #5
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.70(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.40(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Greetings, Revered Audience. Welcome.

Welcome to our show.

We have a number of thrills in store for you over the next two days as our illusionists, our magicians, our sleight-of-hand artists weave their spells to delight and captivate you.

Our first routine is from the repertoire of a performer everyone's heard of: Harry Houdini, the greatest escape artist in America, if not the world, a man who performed before crowned heads of state and U.S. presidents. Some of his escapes are so difficult no one has dared attempt them, all these years after his untimely death.

Today we'll re-create an escape in which he risked suffocation in a routine known as the Lazy Hangman.

In this trick, our performer lies prone on the belly, hands bound behind the back with classic Darby handcuffs. The ankles are tied together and another length of rope is wound around the neck, like a noose, and tied to the ankles. The tendency of the legs to straighten pulls the noose taut and begins the terrible process of suffocation.

Why is it called the "Lazy" Hangman? Because the condemned executes himself.

In many of Mr. Houdini's more dangerous routines, assistants were present with knives and keys to release him in the event that he was unable to escape. Often a doctor was on hand.

Today, there'll be none of these precautions. If there's no escape within four minutes, the performer will die.

We begin in a moment...but first a word of advice:

Never forget that by entering our show you're abandoning reality.

What you're absolutely convinced you see might not exist at all. What you know has to be an illusion may turn out to be God's harsh truth.

Your companion at our show might turn out to be a total stranger. A man or woman in the audience you don't recognize may know you far too well.

What seems safe may be deadly. And the dangers you guard against may be nothing more than distractions to lure you to greater danger.

In our show what can you believe? Whom can you trust?

Well, Revered Audience, the answer is that you should believe nothing.

And you should trust no one. No one at all.

Now, the curtain rises, the lights dim, the music fades, leaving only the sublime sound of hearts beating in anticipation.

And our show begins....

The building looked as if it'd seen its share of ghosts.

Gothic, sooty, dark. Sandwiched between two high-rises on the Upper West Side, capped with a widow's walk and many shuttered windows. The building dated from the Victorian era and had been a boarding school at one point and later a sanatorium, where the criminally insane lived out their frazzled lives.

The Manhattan School of Music and Performing Arts could have been home to dozens of spirits.

But none so immediate as the one who might be hovering here now, above the warm body of the young woman lying, stomach down, in the dim lobby outside a small recital hall. Her eyes were still and wide but not yet glassy, the blood on her cheek was not yet brown.

Her face was dark as plum from the constriction of the taut rope connecting her neck to her ankles.

Scattered around her were a flute case, sheet music and a spilled grande cup from Starbucks, the coffee staining her jeans and green Izod shirt and leaving a comma of dark liquid on the marble floor.

Also present was the man who'd killed her, bending down and examining her carefully. He was taking his time and felt no urge to rush. Today was Saturday, the hour early. There were no classes in the school on the weekends, he'd learned. Students did use the practice rooms but they were in a different wing of the building. He leaned closer to the woman, squinting, wondering if he could see some essence, some spirit rising from her body. He didn't.

He straightened up, considering what else he might do to the still form in front of him.

"You're sure it was screaming?"

"Yeah....No," the security guard said. "Maybe not screaming, you know. Shouting. Upset. For just a second or two. Then it stopped."

Officer Diane Franciscovich, a portable working out of the Twentieth Precinct, continued, "Anybody else hear anything?"

The heavy guard, breathing hard, glanced at the tall, brunette policewoman, shook his head and flexed and opened his huge hands. He wiped his dark palms on his blue slacks.

"Call for backup?" asked Nancy Ausonio, another young patrol officer, shorter than her partner, blonde.

Franciscovich didn't think so, though she wasn't sure. Portables walking the beat in this part of the Upper West Side dealt mostly with traffic accidents, shoplifting and car theft (as well as holding the hands of distraught muggees). This was a first for them — the two women officers, on their Saturday morning watch, had been spotted on the sidewalk and motioned urgently inside by the guard to help check out the screaming. Well, upset shouting.

"Let's hold off," the calm Franciscovich said. "See what's going on."

The guard said, "Sounded like it was comin' from 'round here somewhere. Dunno."

"Spooky place," Ausonio offered, oddly uneasy; she was the partner most likely to leap into the middle of a dispute, even if it involved combatants twice her size.

"The sounds, you know. Hard to tell. You know what I'm sayin'? Where they're coming from."

Franciscovich was focusing on what her partner had said. Damn spooky place, she added silently.

Seeming miles of dim corridors later, finding nothing out of the ordinary, the security guard paused.

Franciscovich nodded to a doorway in front of them. "What's through here?"

"Be no reason for students t'be there. It's only — "

Franciscovich pushed the door open.

Inside was a small lobby that led to a door labeled Recital Hall A. And near that door was the body of a young woman, trussed up, rope around her neck, hands in cuffs. Eyes open in death. A brown-haired, bearded man in his early fifties crouched over her. He looked up, surprised at their entry.

"No!" Ausonio cried.

"Oh, Christ," the guard gasped.

The officers drew their weapons and Franciscovich sighted down on the man with what she thought was a surprisingly steady hand. "You, don't move! Stand up slow, move away from her and put your hands in the air." Her voice was much less firm than the fingers gripping the Glock pistol.r

The man did as he was told.

"Lie face down on floor. Keep your hands in sight!"

Ausonio started forward to the girl.

It was then Franciscovich noticed that the man's right hand, over his head, was closed in a fist.

"Open your — "


She went blind as a flash of searing light filled the room. It seemed to come directly from the suspect's hand and hovered for a moment before going out. Ausonio froze and Franciscovich went into a crouch, scrabbling backward and squinting, swinging the gun back and forth. Panicked, she knew the killer had kept his eyes shut when the flash went off and would be aiming his own weapon at them or charging forward with a knife.

"Where, where, where?" she shouted.

Then she saw — vaguely thanks to her frizzled vision and the dissipating smoke — the killer running into the recital hall. He slammed the door shut. There was a thud inside as he moved a chair or table against the door.

Ausonio dropped to her knees in front of the girl. With a Swiss army knife she cut the rope off her neck, rolled her over and, using a disposable mouthpiece, started CPR.

"Any other exits?" Franciscovich shouted to the guard.

"Only one — in the back, around the corner. To the right."



"Hey," she called to Ausonio as she started sprinting. "Watch this door!"

"Got it," the blonde officer called and blew another breath into the victim's pale lips.

More thuds from inside as the killer beefed up his barricade; Franciscovich sprinted around the corner, toward the door the guard had told them about, calling for backup on her Motorola. As she looked ahead she saw someone standing at the end of the corridor. Franciscovich stopped fast, drew a target on the man's chest and shone the brilliant beam from her halogen flashlight on him.

"Lord," croaked the elderly janitor, dropping the broom he held.

Franciscovich thanked God she'd kept her finger outside the trigger guard of the Glock. "You see somebody come out of that door?"

"What's going on?"

"You see anybody?" Franciscovich shouted.

"No, ma'am."

"How long you been here?"

"I don't know. Ten minutes, I'd guess."

There was another thud of furniture from inside as the killer continued to blockade the door. Franciscovich sent the janitor into the main corridor with the security guard then eased up to the side door. Gun held high, eye level, she tested the knob gently. It was unlocked. She stepped to the side so she wouldn't be in the line of fire if the perp shot through the wood. A trick she remembered from NYPD Blue, though an instructor might've mentioned it at the Academy too.

Another thump from inside.

"Nancy, you there?" Franciscovich whispered into her handy-talkie.

Ausonio's voice, shaky, said, "She's dead, Diane. I tried. But she's dead."

"He didn't get out this way. He's still inside. I can hear him." Silence.

"I tried, Diane. I tried."

"Forget it. Come on. You on this? You on it?"

"Yeah, I'm cool. Really." The officer's voice hardened. "Let's go get him."

"No," Franciscovich said, "we'll keep him contained till ESU gets here. That's all we've got to do. Sit tight. Stay clear of the door. And sit tight."

Which is when she heard the man shout from inside, "I've got a hostage. I've got a girl in here. Try to get in and I'll kill her!"

Oh, Jesus...

"You, inside!" Franciscovich shouted. "Nobody's going to do anything. Don't worry. Just don't hurt anybody else." Was this procedure? she wondered. Neither prime-time television nor her Academy training was any help here. She heard Ausonio call Central and report that the situation was now a barricade and hostage-taking.

Franciscovich called to the killer, "Just take it easy! You can — "

A huge gunshot from inside. Franciscovich jumped like a fish. "What happened? Was that you?" she shouted into her radio.

"No," her partner replied, "I thought it was you."

"No. It was him. You okay?"

"Yeah. He said he's got a hostage. You think he shot her?"

"I don't know. How do I know?" Franciscovich, thinking: Where the hell is the backup?

"Diane," Ausonio whispered after a moment. "We've gotta go in. Maybe she's hurt. Maybe she's wounded." Then, shouting: "You, inside!" No answer. "You!"


"Maybe he killed himself," Franciscovich offered.

Or maybe he fired the shot to make us think he'd killed himself and he's waiting inside, drawing a target gut high on the doorway.

Then that terrible image returned to her: the seedy door to the recital lobby opening, casting the pale light on the victim, her face blue and cold as winter dusk. Stopping people from doing things like this was why she'd become a cop in the first place.

"We have to go in, Diane," Ausonio whispered.

"That's what I'm thinking. Okay. We'll go in." Speaking a bit manically as she thought of both her family and how to curl her left hand over her right when firing an automatic pistol in a combat shooting situation. "Tell the guard we'll need lights inside the hall."

A moment later Ausonio said, "The switch is out here. He'll turn 'em on when I say so." A deep breath that Franciscovich heard through the microphone. Then Ausonio said, "Ready. On three. You count it."

"Okay. One...Wait. I'll be coming in from your two o'clock. Don't shoot me."

"Okay. Two o'clock. I'll be — "

"You'll be on my left."

"Go ahead."

"One." Franciscovich gripped the knob with her left hand. "Two."

This time her finger slipped inside the guard of her weapon, gently caressing the second trigger — the safety on Glock pistols.

"Three!" Franciscovich shouted so loud that she was sure her partner heard the call without the radio. She shoved through the doorway into the large rectangular room just as the glaring lights came on.

"Freeze!" she screamed — to an empty room.

Crouching, skin humming with the tension, she swung her weapon from side to side as she scanned every inch of the space.r

No sign of the killer, no sign of a hostage.

A glance to her left, the other doorway, where Nancy Ausonio stood, doing the same frantic scan of the room. "Where?" the woman whispered.

Franciscovich shook her head. She noticed about fifty wooden folding chairs arranged in neat rows. Four or five of them were lying on their backs or sides. But they didn't seem to be a barricade; they were randomly kicked over. To her right was a low stage. On it sat an amplifier and two speakers. A battered grand piano.

The young officers could see virtually everything in the room.

Except the perp.

"What happened, Nancy? Tell me what happened."

Ausonio didn't answer; like her partner she was looking around frantically, three-sixty, checking out every shadow, every piece of furniture, even though it was clear the man wasn't here.


The room was essentially a sealed cube. No windows. The air-conditioning and heating vents were only six inches across. A wooden ceiling, not acoustic tile. No trapdoors that she could see. No doors other than the main one Ausonio had used and the fire door that Franciscovich had entered through.

Where? Franciscovich mouthed.

Her partner mouthed something back. The policewoman couldn't decipher it but the message could be read in her face: I don't have a clue.

"Yo," a loud voice called from the doorway. They spun toward it, drawing targets on the empty lobby. "Ambulance and some other officers just got here." It was the security guard, hiding out of sight.

Heart slamming from the fright, Franciscovich called him inside.

He asked, "Is it, uhm...I mean, you get him?"

"He's not here," Ausonio said in a shaky voice.

"What?" The man peeked cautiously into the hall.

Franciscovich heard the voices of the officers and EMS techs arriving. The jangle of equipment. Still, the women couldn't bring themselves to join their fellow cops just yet. They stood transfixed in the middle of the recital space, both uneasy and bewildered, trying vainly to figure out how the killer had escaped from a room from which there was no escape.

Copyright © 2003 by Jeffery Deaver

Meet the Author

Jeffery Deaver is the author of two collections of short stories and twenty-eight previous suspense novels. His most recent #1 international bestseller is Carte Blanche, the newest James Bond novel. Deaver is best known for his Kathryn Dance and Lincoln Rhyme thrillers. Deaver has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony Award, and a Gumshoe Award. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in North Carolina.

Brief Biography

Washington, D.C.
Date of Birth:
May 6, 1950
Place of Birth:
Chicago, Illinois
B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law

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The Vanished Man (Lincoln Rhyme Series #5) 4.2 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 63 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
Hey, Mr Deaver- the gang from Scooby Doo called, and they want their ending back! (P.S. Please leave the Mystery Machine with a full tank, thanks!)
Kiwicat More than 1 year ago
Like all of the Deaver books the plot is complex and there are many surprises. Alas, the plot kinks don't seem to have adequate foundation making them and the dialog a bit forced. Somehow this book misses the immediacy and drama of some of his other works.
Foxchaser More than 1 year ago
If you are a Jeff Deaver fan, don't let this one get away. I read this years ago, then when I bought an ebook reader, this was the first book I downloaded.
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loved every word of this book. couldn't put it down. best Deaver novel yet. He has polished his technique for story telling and kept the suspense thru the whole book.
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Aeolus More than 1 year ago
I am always surprised with the twists and turns that Jeffery Deaver thows at us in his novels. This story explores the dark side of human nature that can take hold of people as they come to grips with tragedies from their past. It also delves into how people use their skills for either good or evil to reach the end of their quest. This story is "magic". Rhyme and Sachs seem to always be able to find experts in the case to help them along to find the bad guy. I like how Deaver weaves the outsider's story into the overall picture of the novel so that we can see what drives the character. When I started reading the Rhyme series a friend of mine said that "Jeffery Deaver is WEIRD". I am so glad because that weirdness makes for fantastic reading.
auntrosie More than 1 year ago
This is my favorite Lincoln Rhyme novel by Jeffery Deaver. "The Conjurer" is the name Rhyme gives to the magician and mentalist who keeps him stymied almost throughout the entire book. Deaver will keep your mind twisting and turning until the very end. I finally got my book club to read a Deaver novel and this is the one I chose. 12 people read the book, 10 really enjoyed it, (the other two don't enjoy this type of writing.) Two have requested I share my other Deaver novels with them, one saying she has a new favorite author! I strongly suggest this one as your first Lincoln Rhyme novel. You will want more!! Enjoy!
druanne More than 1 year ago
If you liked the others, you'll like this. If you haven't read the others, this can still stand alone. But, you would enjoy all of them.
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polybear More than 1 year ago
I've read many Jeffery Deaver novels and have enjoyed each and every one!! I had difficulty keeping up with all the twists...never a dull the characters and their importance in the story line.