It's a battle of the masterminds, as Deaver pits paraplegic forensic detective Lincoln Rhyme and New York cop Amelia Sachs against an elusive murderer they've dubbed The Conjurer. This cunning criminal performs magic tricks made famous by Houdini and other master magicians with a lethal twist—he always leaves a corpse behind.

Using illusion, misdirection, sleight of hand and an endless supply of prosthetics and wigs, The Conjurer escapes from the crime scenes and police custody again and again. However, Lincoln and Amelia know a thing or two about using smoke and mirrors to get their man.

The world of magic makes an ideal playing field for Deaver, with his natural penchant for plot twists and story surprises. In fact, one has to wonder how he'll be able to top this one. There are suspicious characters, red herrings and compelling subplots (a secondary case about a high-profile murder attempt and Rhyme's decision about a risky medical procedure that could offer him more mobility) all used to spellbinding effect. THE VANISHED MAN is a bar-raising installment in a series that never disappoints. (Mar., 413 pp., $25.95)

Reviewed by: 
Tara Gelsomino