Review

Vanished: A Private Justice Novel

by Irene Hannon

Pulitzer Prize nominee Moira Harrison tries to peer through the rain and darkness on the rural Missouri road where she is utterly lost. Even if she could see, the surrounding woods would not likely guide her back to her hotel. She glances down for just a heartbeat, then back at the road where a figure is waving frantically. Moira slams the brakes, but not soon enough to prevent skidding into the woman. She hears the sickening thump before her car careens off the road, slamming into a tree.

"Author Irene Hannon has penned an intriguing story with likable characters and enough action to keep things moving.... A compelling plot with clever dialogue and real people make this a good one to read and share."

Moments later, a miracle! In the midst of the stormy forest, a lone man appears and promises Moira that he will call 911 and find the injured person. Before leaving, he brushes broken glass off Moira’s seat, but a shard punctures her leg just before she blacks out. When she regains consciousness an hour later, help still has not arrived. As for the helpful stranger and injured woman, they have vanished. So begins a journey that will place Moira’s life in danger and her heart in conflict, as she searches for the truth of what really happened that night.

Moira can’t forget the woman’s eyes. Wild. Terrified. Nor can she stop wondering why a man would be out walking in the nighttime woods during a storm. Her extensive background as an investigative reporter kicks into high gear. But without any evidence or someone calling in a missing person report, the police have no reason to act on her concerns. Desperate to solve the mystery, Moira turns to a private investigator recommended by a trusted friend. Former homicide detective Cal Burke is one of three partners in Phoenix, Inc., a respected PI firm. Widowed five years prior, Cal still hasn’t opened his heart to any other woman. Until he meets Moira. It doesn’t take long to see that there’s more to Moira than her good looks. He is drawn to her compassion and determination, impressed with her intelligence, and touched by her faith. Still, she is a client, and he is determined to maintain his professionalism.

Cal listens to Moira’s story, but agrees with the police that without evidence, it may be impossible to solve the stormy night mystery. Although logic dictates that he should turn down the case, his gut says to give it a shot. When Cal discovers a tooth in the area where Moira said she hit someone, it leads to another clue, and another, until Moira’s story rings with truth. When all clues lead to a prominent doctor, noted for his humanitarian work with impoverished children, Cal and Moira resolve to unveil his secrets.

In the meantime, their attraction to each other grows stronger, threatening to break down the walls around both hearts. While Cal’s fortress is constructed with bricks of grief and guilt from the death of his wife, Moira’s is built on the fear of having been scorned.

Author Irene Hannon has penned an intriguing story with likable characters and enough action to keep things moving. Though her main characters are Christian, the story never gets preachy and would likely be enjoyed equally by a secular or faith-based audience. A compelling plot with clever dialogue and real people make this a good one to read and share.     

Reviewed by Susan Miura on January 15, 2013

Vanished: A Private Justice Novel
by Irene Hannon