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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Finder, Joseph: Vanished

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

Joe Finder's novel Vanished, the first in a new series, features Nick Heller as an ex-Special Forces guy who works at a high-end private detective agency in Washington, D.C. He and his brother Roger grew up in opulence, but the chauffeured rides to school ended when their father became the Kenneth Lay of his era. His arrest caused a rift between the once inseparable brothers. In this debut, Nick is finishing up an investigation into a plane-load of stolen money when he learns from Roger's stepson, Gabe, that Roger and his wife Lauren have been attacked in Georgetown. Lauren is in the hospital and Roger has disappeared. Trying to locate his brother and figure out what prompted the attack leads Nick into some seriously dangerous situations, many of them involving the burly, thick-necked employees of a Blackwater-type private security firm.

Nick Heller is the sort of character I enjoy in a thriller: we don't learn much about his softer side, it's true--there's time for that in subsequent installments in the series--but he's ultra-competent and quick on his feet. The plot of Finder's book is, I suppose, admirable in its intricacy, but I confess that, having just finished reading it, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you exactly what was going on. Nick uncovered various plots centered on his brother. People we thought were uninvolved were in fact complicit. It was all a bit too complicated. And some specific incidents left me wondering: Why was someone going around gouging out people's eyeballs? I don't know! How was Nick able to stealthily carry a stepladder around a military complex in the middle of the night? (Especially the part where he pulled the ladder up through a window after himself with guards relatively nearby. Surely that would make a lot of  noise.)

I wouldn't doubt that my problem with the plot is my fault rather than a failure of the book: more attentive readers than I may not have a problem with it. But while I've found Finder's earlier novels gripping, this one never grabbed my attention or got me invested in the characters.

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