Vanishing Point

Morris L. West, Author
Morris L. West, Author HarperCollins Publishers $23 (336p) ISBN 978-0-06-101069-9
Reviewed on: 07/01/1996
Release date: 07/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 336 pages - 978-0-06-101222-8
Paperback - 345 pages - 978-1-56895-474-5
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Carl Strassberger, the narrator of West's 26th novel, a psychological thriller, is erudite, quick-witted, acutely observant--rather like his creator, one imagines, whose talent shows little sign of waning as he enters his 80th year. If Carl's storytelling is a welcome pleasure, however, the author's mission, for him, is not: he must track down his brother-in-law, Larry Lucas, who has disappeared after a series of intense negotiations, leaving behind his wife and children, as well as his directorship of the family banking business, Strassberger & Co., an affiliation that allows Carl to pursue the life of a wealthy artist. Carl discovers that Larry is a manic-depressive who may have endangered his life by engaging the services of an outfit, fronted by a travel agency, that promises to help anyone to vanish utterly into a new identity. Enlisting the aid of Strassberger & Co.'s security firm, Carl, traveling incognito, follows the trail to Italy and then Switzerland, where the tragic consequences of Larry's flight are manifested in a possible hostile takeover of the Strassberger corporation. The suspense occasionally wanders into melodrama, but West compensates with a series of empathetic characterizations that present Carl's artistic view of the world, as well as with an astute analysis of the dysfunctional family dynamic that contributed to Larry's disappearance. Moral wisdom and a mature appreciation of human ways and foibles hallmark this prime offering from a veteran. (July)
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