In Vanish, Gerritsen skillfully weaves a story that emerges as an international and political statement on the plight of Eastern European and Russian refugees whose hopes for a new life in America are shattered at the hands of influential, wealthy, and immoral individuals. In relating her story Gerritsen’s writing style so effectively generates anxiety that VANISH is a nail-biter that slowly and tantalizingly unveils the mysteries of what is occurring in so-called victimless crimes and how it affects the fortunes of those perpetrating them. To make her social commentary, Gerritsen, provides realistic dialogue, without melodrama, as she re-introduces the reader to protagonists Jane Rizzoli (who is now 9 months pregnant); Gabriel Dean (Rizzoli’s husband – an FBI agent); and Dr. Maura Isles (Boston Medical Examiner and Jane’s friend). Together these three righteous advocates for truth seek to find Mila (a Russian victim of the white slave trade) and to uncover the meaning behind Olena’s pronouncement (at the time of her death) that “Mila knows”.
The heartbreaking tale begins when Mila, from Belarus, tells the reader how she and others like her were lured into the United States under false pretenses only to find out that they were to be bought and sold into slavery, thus stripping them of their innocence and dignity. Gerritsen then switches gears to incorporate a subplot in which startled Medical Examiner Dr. Maura Isles finds a young woman, that she supposed to be a corpse, still breathing only to have that same woman turn violent and take her friend Jane Rizzoli as a hostage. As it turns out the young Jane Doe, from the morgue, is Olena (one of the Russian victims and friend to Mila) who is assassinated by the FEDS before she can expose the criminal element that is trading young victims from overseas to become sexual slaves. However, before she dies Olena is able to leave one clue with Jane, “Mila Knows”, but she never has a chance to explain what it is that Mila knows or why it is important. The most heartbreaking section of the book occurs when Jane reaches out to Mila, causing our hearts to pound with anticipation as we watch hopefully and wonder if the poor, wretched girl harbors one final measure of trust despite her experiences of betrayal.
I felt that the author’s realistic dialogue and well-developed characterizations made Vanish a first-rate and thought-provoking thriller that went beyond its genre while providing the reader with an opportunity to consider their social conscience in regards to victimless crimes. I also feel that Tess Gerritsen writes the type of novel that rarely makes it to print because it is frighteningly based on facts that include government conspiracy and white slavery but as for content and readability I would rate Vanish as a 5 star read.
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