Vanished

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Vanished

(Wilton/Strait murder mystery series 1)

Vanished! That’s what Andrea Wilton and Brian Strait discover when they come to visit their best friends one evening. Where could they be and does God answer prayers, two questions they find the answers to as they journey to another world of voodoo, murder, and more missing people. Andrea and Brian also discover each other as they learn to scuba, fight a common enemy, and search for the proverbial needle in a haystack.  (book sizr 5.5×8.5, perfect bound paper back, 362 pages)

Reviews:

My wife picked up a copy of Vanished last year. She’s a non-reader so has never finished a complete book. However, she couldn’t put Vanished down, read it all the way through in about two weeks and wants the next one. –a man in Nebraska

I don’t get out much anymore so like to read. I picked up Vanished and didn’t get to sleep until after 2 a.m. last night. –a 92 year old shut-in from Iowa –

Barbara’s books are exciting to read. I love passing them on to my friends because I know there is no bad language or they keep you sitting on the edge of your seat. I love that it’s a series and yet each story is complete. –Evie Linschied—Minnesota

Vanished by Barbara Derksen  has been my latest read and I was very sorry to see the last page.

“Vanished” is definitely a suspense novel in my book. From the very first page, where a young family is forced to leave their little home and go with kidnappers at gun point, I was hooked.

Brian Strait and Andrea Wilton both arrive at their friend’s house around the same time, and are very concerned at the disheveled look of the ordinarily tidy little house and the very apparent absence of it’s occupants.When a neighbor is murdered, a house burns to the ground and the police seem to be of no help, Brian and Andrea take matters into their own hands.

Following a clue from the murdered neighbor, they pack up and head to Haiti. A land of voodoo and the absence of a savior.   The discovery that people are disappearing from there as well, tell them they are on the right track.  How will Brian and Andrea find their friends? Are they even still alive? How about the fact that Brian and Andrea themselves are being watched constantly?

Both Brian and Andrea try to live by WWJD -What Would Jesus Do? and are convinced that He would not carry a fire arm or any sort of dangerous weapon, and yet their own lives are in danger. As they search for clues and struggle to make sense of what they are learning, Brian and Andrea find themselves relying more than ever on the Lord for strength and protection. While their relationship with each other goes from years of mutual dislike to a new-found respect and friendship.

I was certainly sorry to reach the last page, as I felt the story wasn’t complete and there were parts that I felt weren’t wrapped up quite the way I wanted them to be. However, the good news is that Barbara is working on a sequel to Vanished and I cannot wait for it to come out!

Also, her book is available on Amazon for your Kindle and it’s only 3.99! If you enjoy suspense novels with a slight touch of romance and written from a Christian viewpoint, I know you will enjoy this book.-Kendra Stamy-

 

Vanished is a suspense-filled mystery thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the book. The book is clean even though there is some violence. The faith of the characters flows naturally in the story, so it never feels fake or forced. (In some books, the “Christian” element feels like it’s just thrown in to call the book Christian, but that is not the case in this book.) I was drawn into the story as the characters and storyline naturally developed. I did not want to put it down once I started to read.

If you’re looking for a good Christian mystery novel with a few unexpected twists, you’ll want to check out Vanished.- Heather 

By Marine Corps Nomad VINE VOICE on June 19, 2012

Vanished is a suspense-filled mystery thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout the book. The book is clean even though there is some violence. The faith of the characters flows naturally in the story, so it never feels fake or forced. (In some books, the “Christian” element feels like it’s just thrown in to call the book Christian, but that is not the case in this book.) I was drawn into the story as the characters and storyline naturally developed. I did not want to put it down once I started to read.

If you’re looking for a good Christian mystery novel with a few unexpected twists, you’ll want to check out Vanished.


By Cathy C on March 18, 2012

Vanished captured my attention right from the start. I found the author had a unique way of presenting a suspenseful story. No matter what evil the characters Andrea and Brian faced or the dangers surrounding them, they always kept their focus on the Lord to give them strength and guide them through their perilous quest. I found the story captivating and fully recommend it.


By jkstam08 on June 9, 2012

“Vanished” grabbed my attention and didn’t let it go until the last page. Even after the last page though, it still has my attention because I am wondering what will happen in the next book.
Barbara is an excellent story teller, keeping you on the edge of your seat in suspense, with a hint of romance gracing the pages.


By chrisGA on July 20, 2012

The book takes off running with the brutal abduction of Diane, Trent, and their three-year-old son. Her terror and powerlessness grabbed me as my heart wrenched in empathy. There is something so poignant about a mother desperately wanting to find a way to comfort her frightened child in the midst of great threat to their physical safety. Their friends, Brian and Andrea, find their trashed house and are determined to find out what has happened to them. Sounds like the beginning of a thriller, and it is; but what happens next is what is special about this one. Brian and Andrea stop and pray for the family’s safety to the One who knows where they are.

Brian and Andrea bring in the police, and slowly, more information comes out. Trent was involved in something secret even though he was supposed to be a biochemist working on new laundry soap. Diane had been preoccupied recently. Lots of questions arise, but the nightmare for Brian and Andrea is just beginning. The use of vivid detail creates for the reader a sense of “being there”, as we share their paranoia, fear, confusion, and determination. Hit and run drivers, arson, voodoo, secret safety deposit boxes, people mysteriously disappearing, pre-earthquake Haiti, and lots of bad guys all add to excitement. At the same time, the evident poverty of Haiti and the practice of child slavery is heartbreaking.

This was a well-written book; the suspense never let up through many plot twists. As Brian and Andrea are united in the search for their friends, we come to know them as very likeable, caring individuals who might just become a couple. Their Christian faith is as naturally integrated into the story as it is in their lives. I highly recommend this thriller that happens to involve Christians.

Sample:

Prologue

The intruder shoved her up the stairs. Diane Michner stumbled. She grabbed the stair treads for support. Tears of fright blurred her vision.

“Hurry or I hurt the kid.” His rumbling threat released hot breath across her neck. She scurried faster. An arm, covered in monstrous tattoos that bulged beneath the sleeve of his dirty t-shirt, circled the tiny wiggling torso of her three year old son. Jeffrey whimpered. The thug pushed her again.

“Mommy!” Jeffrey screamed, large droplets of tears coursing down his pudgy cheeks.

“Quiet.” The man gripped the boy’s arm and squeezed. He shot a glance at the woman. She bowed her head in submission and headed toward her little boy’s bedroom.

“H-h-how long will we be g-gone?” Her eyes traveled over the little blue train stenciled on three walls of her son’s dream room.

“Never mind. Get the clothes.” He motioned with the boy’s body, whipping him toward the folded doors of the closet. Jeffrey whimpered.

She yanked the door open and snatched a large suitcase from the top shelf. Her tears dampened pieces of clothing from her son’s chest of drawers as she threw them into the case. With downcast eyes, Diane glanced toward her son and then back to the task at hand. In a haphazard fashion, she added some of the outfits hanging inside the closet door and seized his fluffy brown teddy bear from the bed. Jeffrey whimpered again.

Obediently she turned toward the doorway where the intruder fought to retain hold of her struggling child.

“P-please. Don’t hold him so tight,” she pleaded. “You’ll hurt him.” Her arms ached to hold her frightened son, to protect him from this man who didn’t care if he injured a small child. “It’s okay, Jeffrey. Please don’t cry.”

The man used his elbow to point her toward the next room. “Get a move on.” His grip on the child’s body enticed her to hurry.

The trio moved quickly down the hall towards the bedroom she shared with her husband of five years. She sucked in an anguished breath as she stumbled against the doorframe of the closet. She seized another suitcase and shoved in pants, shirts, and undergarments for both of them, then closed that case and looked at the man. Her eyes begged as her arms reached to hold the tiny boy.

The man thrust Jeffrey at her and grabbed the suitcase, as she wrapped grateful arms around her son’s trembling body. She could feel his terror. The thug pushed Diane toward the hallway. She shifted the boy’s weight to one arm but stumbled, almost losing her footing. She reached out with her free hand to steady herself against the wall.

Moving toward the staircase, the villain picked up the other suitcase standing just inside the boy’s bedroom. “Get going.” He motioned for her to descend the staircase toward the living room.

When she reached the first floor, Diane gasped. Two large men twisted a rope looped tightly around her husband’s neck. Another coarse length of rope tied Trent’s hands and wrists together, behind his back. The muscles of his upper arms stretched painfully beneath the sleeve of his cotton shirt. He grimaced, pain written on his face. Bright red oozed from a cut above his eye, the evidence of a battle lost. Blood congealed in his eyebrow and then trickled down his face to drip onto his collarbone. A jagged piece of cartilage stuck out from the bridge of his nose, blood coagulating near his upper lip.

A tormented groan escaped Diane’s lips, as if from the depths of her heart. She shuddered and cuddled Jeffrey, trying to shield him from the sight of his father. Her body churned with unfamiliar hatred as she looked on the three men who had invaded their peaceful home. She watched as they laughed. The one nearest caressed her cheek. Her skin crawled in revulsion. She yanked her face out of reach. The intruders laughed harder.

****

Trent struggled toward his wife. He watched anguish seep from her eyes, a torment that matched his own. Had he brought this to their home? What did they want? The thugs yanked him back as viciously as they would a dog on a leash. He twisted, desperate to reach her side. Jeffrey’s eyes seemed so large that Trent could almost feel his fright from across the room. His own eyes cautioned his wife not to arouse their anger. By the look on Diane’s face, he knew she wanted to scratch their eyes out, to inflict as much damage on them as they had on her family. He watched tears fall unchecked as Diane turned accusing eyes on him and then turn her head towards their son.

****

Diane glanced up again at her husband and saw a tear slide past the corner of one eye. His helplessness was evident in the slump of his shoulders. The men were too strong. “Diane…” His voice croaked. The rope strangling him ended further communication. He saw the slight nod of her head. She offered him understanding. He had tried to protect his family but failed.

Diane glanced around at the destruction of her tidy home, a sanctuary they had built together. Two plants dripped black dirt onto the carpet, evidence of her husband’s struggle. The coffee table lay at an awkward angle in splinters, and two sofa cushions exploded with feathers everywhere. She ached to have control over her life again as evening shadows crept from the corners of the room and the smell of overcooked food lingered in the air.

“Did anyone think to turn off the stove?” She made a move toward the kitchen but a large beefy hand stopped her.

Her subjugator grunted beside her. His nod told one of the others to check it out.

Diane’s focus switched. She watched the thug drop the bulky suitcases and then flex his muscles. His grin, when he caught her watching, caused her stomach juices to curdle.

“Now, we go outside to your car. I will hurt you and your son if you make a fuss or attract any attention. Understand?”

Diane nodded once. “Why are you doing this?”

“Not your business.” He pushed.

“Not my…” She stopped in her tracks but her captor raised his arm as if to strike her. Diane used her free arm to swipe at tears betraying her fright. Her eyes traveled down the sidewalk toward the SUV. Her husband groaned, loud enough for the neighbors to hear if they’d been home, as the butt of a gun connected with his right shoulder. She saw his knees buckle. They were defenseless against these men. Her husband stumbled against the side of the van but no longer labored to free himself.

Diane cried in anguish, not caring this time who heard. She stared as they grabbed her husband’s shoulder and squeezed. They lifted him bodily into the backseat.

“We take your car.” Diane jumped. Her escort’s hot breath drifted across her neck as he thrust her through the door. The thug let the front door slam behind them. He threw the suitcases into the backseat of the station wagon parked near the front entry of the house. He motioned for her to secure the little boy into his car seat.

“You drive. Follow them, and nothing will happen to you or your man. Make a wrong turn, and you won’t live to see him shot.” The brute spoke the last word as if a gunshot erupted from his mouth and then he sneered. He plunked himself in the passenger seat.

Diane’s eyes looked, maybe for the last time, towards the home she had come to love. She searched for any means of escape and then slumped in the driver’s seat. Her instincts told her they would carry out their threats. Her hands trembled as she inserted the key into the ignition. The motor roared.

She placed the car in reverse and swiveled her head to linger on the tear-stained face of her little boy. Her heart felt as if someone had punched a hole in it and all the blood drained away. Her mind filled with black hatred, hatred so strong that she knew if she’d had a gun in her hand, she’d use it. Instead, she backed out of the driveway and followed the SUV containing her husband. She made a quick study of the home her family had occupied for the last five years, longing to wake from her nightmare. Will we ever come home again?

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