Vanished - By Tim Weaver



Tim Weaver was born in 1977. At eighteen, he left school and started working in magazine journalism, and has since gone on to develop a successful career writing about films, TV, sport, games and technology. He is married with a young daughter, and lives near Bath. Vanished is Tim’s third David Raker novel.

Find out more about Tim and his writing at

For Lucy

‘The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.’ Deuteronomy 24:16

Author’s Note

For the purposes of the story, I’ve taken some small liberties with the layout and working practices of the London Underground. My hope is that it’s done subtly enough not to grate, and remains true to the amazing history of the city’s railway lines. Those schooled in the Tube will see echoes of Whitechapel’s past in my version of Westminster station, will note I’ve altered Gloucester Road ever so slightly and I hope will forgive my reinterpretation of night-time hours on the network. Residents of north London will no doubt also recognize Fell Wood as being based closely on Haringey’s Parkland Walk.

15 June

Healy looked down at the temperature readout as he pulled up outside the estate. Almost twenty degrees. It felt hotter than that. He’d had the air conditioning on all the way from the station but, on the journey over, nothing had cooled. His sleeves were rolled up, his top button undone, but the car was still stifling. Even in the middle of the night, under cover of darkness, the heat continued to cling on.

He paused, looking out through the windows of the Mercedes to the maze of broken homes beyond. The most dangerous housing estate in London had gone into hibernation. There were no lights on in the flats, no kids in the alleys, no gangs crossing the walkways between buildings. But then, as more marked cars arrived, lightbars painting the ten-storey slabs of concrete, he could make out shapes in the night, watching him from darkened windows and doorways.

He got out. Away to his left, the media were encamped behind a strip of police tape, in shirts and summer dresses, faces slick with sweat. It was mayhem. Journalists jostled for the best position. Feet slid on grass banks. Noise. Lights. Voices screaming his name. In another life, he might have enjoyed the celebrity. Some cops did. But when he looked at the entrance to the building, ominous and dark, like a mouth about to swallow him up, he realized it was all a trick. This wasn’t celebrity. This was standing on a precipice in a hurricane. They were behind him now; with him on that precipice. But if it went on any longer, if it got any worse, if the police still hadn’t found the man responsible by the time the media were camped out at the next crime scene, all they’d be trying to do would be to feed him to the darkness beyond.

He moved across the concrete courtyard to the entrance and looked inside. Everything was broken or cracking, like the whole place was about to collapse under its own weight. The floor was slick with water, leaking from somewhere, and along the corridor a broken door, leading into the first set of flats, was hanging off its hinges. Litter was everywhere. Some people would go their whole lives without seeing the insides of a place like this: a two-hundred-apartment cry for help. The sort of place where even the night at its darkest wasn’t black enough to hide all the bruises.

A uniformed officer with a clipboard was standing at the bottom of a stairwell to Healy’s right. He looked up as Healy approached, shining a flashlight in his direction. ‘Evening, sir.’


‘The elevator doesn’t work.’

Healy glanced at the lift. Across its doors was a council notice telling people it was unsafe to use. On the damp, blistered wall next to it, someone had spray-painted an arrow and the words ‘express elevator to hell’.

After showing the officer his warrant card, Healy headed up three flights of stairs, most of it barely lit. Everything smelled like a toilet. Glass crunched under his shoes where light bulbs had been deliberately smashed and never cleared away. At the third-floor landing, people started to emerge – other cops, forensics – a line snaking out from Flat 312. A crime-scene tech broke off from dusting down a door frame to hand Healy a white