Vanished opens with a powerful, suspenseful first chapter that will leave readers with a focused desire for answers almost as strong as Moira's own need. Investigative reporter Moira Harrison is driving on a remote secondary road when an evening shower turns into a blinding downpour. Distracted for a mere second, Moira looks up through the haze to see a woman's face. Both terrified, there is no escape for either. Despite trying to stop and swerve, Moira hits the woman. Before Moira can collect herself and get out of the car, a "Good Samaritan" appears out of nowhere, promises he will check on the woman, call 911, and assures Moira that all will be okay. Within seconds of his promise and his helpful assist to remove broken glass from her seat, Moira slips into unconsciousness, but not before she notices his distinctive wedding ring -- one just like her father's.
When she awakes later, an officer is there, but no ambulance was ever summoned. In fact, the officer only stumbled upon the car by the roadside during regular rounds. There is no evidence of an injured woman or a "Good Samaritan." Moira's injuries are mild and officials remain skeptical as to why she was unconscious for more than an hour. Despite her assurances that everything she has told them is truthful, law enforcement does not believe her story, chosing instead to believe she perhaps hit a deer.
As the days pass, Moira continues to be haunted by the woman's hazy, but terrified face and the crash that followed. Even with no support from the police, Moira is determined to find answers, so she contacts a PI firm. Cal Burke, an ex-homicide detective, turned PI, agrees to do some background, pro bono work and soon Moira is as involved in the investigation as Cal is. What the pair finds suggests that Moira's disappearing "Good Samaritan" could be a well known, respected doctor, but why would a man of healing abandon the site without calling 911? And, why did the woman disappear?
Irene Hannon has a strong reputation for her suspense fiction. While this one began with a punch that had me determined to keep reading, I thought the last two thirds of the book did not live up to the strong beginning. As I settled into the story, it became apparent what had happened, and although minor details weren't clear until later, nothing came as a big surprise. The ending itself seemed almost formula writing. (Anyone who has ever watched a suspense movie knows the heroine will end up alone, separated for some reason from the "good guy" leaving the villain an opportunity to terrorize and threaten. And, well, you know what HAS to happen after that, right?) However, I must add that her villain is not your average villain and his motives will be a big surprise to readers. Plausible? I'm not sure. Hannon has created within ther PI firm a group of characters whose life stories, especially their pasts, will provide the nuggets for creating more enjoyable, suspense books. Maybe Moira, with her investigative talents, will also make future appearances. If you like suspense, whether you've previously read Hannon or not, give this one a try. Just know, by the middle of the book, you'll be reading just because you want to finish the story, not because you need to find out what is going to happen on the next page!