Rita Award winning author Irene Hannon admits that “we live in a difficult age, but people of honor, principle, character and integrity do exist.” Her passion to see these individuals come to life on the page is at the heart of her work, and her latest release, Vanished, sets the stage for her characters to shine their light into the dark mind of a murderer.
Investigative reporter Moira Harrison believes she’s responsible for the injury and possible death of a missing woman. Moira did not imagine the lone woman, stranded on a rural road in a thunderstorm, flagging for help, nor could she forget the sound of her skidding car striking the woman down. What Moira can’t understand is how the woman could disappear without a trace. Though the responding officer finds no evidence that anyone else had been at the scene of the accident, Moira can’t shake the feeling that something has gone terribly wrong.
As a former police detective, private investigator Cal Burke understands Moira’s need to find answers and would like to help, but there is little he can do with no solid evidence to follow. Regretful that he can offer no more insight than the local police, Cal prepares to inform Moira that his firm, Phoenix, Inc., cannot continue the investigation. The undaunted reporter, however, stumbles onto a connection—a single thread Cal can pull—but it leads him straight to a well-known doctor and humanitarian. His desire for justice, and his admiration for the spirit and integrity of the woman who’s asking, has him agreeing to stay on the case.
In order to uncover the deadly secrets of a man sworn to heal, Cal and Moira must tread carefully. Dr. Ken Blaine is a respected man with no criminal record. Neither Cal nor Moira wish to slander an innocent man, but some secrets cast long shadows. Those shadows, as the doctor soon learns, are especially vulnerable to the light of truth. As the two investigators search for answers, the reader gets an inside look at the investigative process, allowing him to be an active participant in the story.
The strength of this story and the foundation of Hannon’s writing lie in the portrayal of a hero and heroine who are pure in their intentions and honorable in their interactions. Moira and Cal are genuinely likeable and possess the requisite amount of complexity to be interesting. Though I wouldn’t characterize either of them as having the rough edges or inherent flaws that provoke an intense emotional reaction in the reader, I can say that I enjoyed getting to know them. Their attraction to each other is authentic and builds slowly, creating more warmth than heat, but that, too, is part of Hannon’s appeal.
The mystery itself is simple and straightforward. The identity of the suspect is revealed early, as are his motivations, but Hannon increases tension by allowing the reader to partner with Cal and Moira as they build their case. Because we know that Dr. Blaine is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the anticipation to uncover the next clue keeps us turning the page.
Though the outcome is predictable, the pace of the narrative and the appeal of the characters keep the reader engaged and entertained. Hannon has a remarkable talent for providing what she refers to as “clean, compelling fiction,” offering readers a heartwarming Hallmark-esque narrative. The first in her Private Justice series, Vanished is sure to be a favorite with Hannon’s fans.
You can learn more about Irene Hannon and her books on her website.