Reading Group Guide
1. Moira’s story about her strange experience on the rainy road is dismissed by everyone --- yet she feels compelled to investigate because the image of the woman’s terrified eyes is burned in her memory. In Moira’s place, what would you have done after that night? Why?
2. Cal was never able to pin the blame for his wife’s death on the perpetrator, and he continues to feel guilt over her death. Do you think his self-recrimination is warranted? Why or why not? Have you ever made a decision you later felt guilty about, because of the consequences? How did that change you?
3. Moira is smart, savvy, and talented...yet she was duped by her fiancé. What are some reasons she might have failed to notice clues about his real character? Have you ever been betrayed? How did you feel about that --- and what did you learn?
4. Ken Blaine has everything going for him --- but he makes choices that ruin his life. Do you think his experience with his father is the reason he became so misguided? Based on the flashback scene, what is your impression of the elder Blaine and his relationship with his son? Point to specific things in that scene that helped form your impression.
5. Ellen Blaine has given up on a marriage that appears to have been satisfying at one time --- yet she remains in the relationship because it’s convenient and gives her the material things she wants. Do you know of anyone who’s in a marriage that’s less than ideal? Why do some marriages lose their luster? What are some ways spouses can keep a marriage vibrant and healthy?
6. Had Ellen Blaine intervened when her husband began to exhibit signs of problems, do you think his outcome might have been different? What might she have done to try and help him?
7. Blaine rationalizes the actions he takes with older patients, using many of the arguments employed by those who favor euthanasia. What do you think about those arguments? How might you counter them? What does the Bible teach on this subject?
8. Moira struggles a little with the pretext techniques Cal and the other Phoenix PIs use. Do you agree with Cal’s justification? Do you have a problem with pretext used in the cause of justice? Why or why not?
9. What secondary character did you find most interesting? Why?
10. Blaine’s character is very complex; a true study in contradictions. Did you find him to be credible? Why or why not? Based on what we know about his background, why might he have had a special interest in wanting to heal children?
11. What was your impression of PIs --- and the cases they work on --- going into this book? Did this story reinforce your opinion . . . or change it? In what way?
12. Moira learns a lesson from Nikki about judging other people by appearances. Have you ever done that? If so, have you ever been wrong? Why do you think our opinions are often so influenced by appearances? Is that always a bad thing?
13. Moira has a close, healthy relationship with her father, and though her brother spends a lot of time overseas, it’s clear they’re close too. In what ways can strong family relationships enhance a person’s life?
14. What are your impressions of Cal’s partners? Are you looking forward to their stories?
15. As an investigative reporter, Moira has handled some dangerous stories --- and taken personal risks in the name of exposing crime. In light of that, did her decision at the end of the book to follow Blaine (since no one else was available) surprise you? Was it in keeping with her character? What other choice might she have made?
16. Did the final scene with Blaine --- and the action he took --- surprise you? Why or why not?
17. At one point, Moira suggests to Cal that he follow Socrates’ advice about prayer: “Our prayers should be for blessings in general, for God knows best what is good for us.” Do you agree with that, or do you think people should pray for specific things? Why?
18. Describe Moira, Cal, and Blaine, using three adjectives for each. Cite specific examples of actions they took in the story that made you choose these words.
19. Who is the most interesting main character for you? Why?
20. Did you find Vanished suspenseful? Did you think the plot was well constructed and credible, and the characters believable? Why or why not? Talk about your impressions of the book from a literary standpoint --- its strengths and weaknesses. If you were the author, would you have done anything differently?