Vanished tells the story of a man and woman faced with an almost unthinkable tragedy—the mysterious abduction of their son.
In the late 1930s, in the shadow of the Lindbergh kidnapping, and as war looms in Europe, Marielle Patterson shares and elegant Manhattan brownstone with her husband, Malcolm, and their little boy, Teddy. Though the couple's lives are filled with secrets, Marielle is a devoted wife and mother, and Malcolm is a man everyone admires.
On the eve of Teddy's disappearance, Marielle runs into her first love, American expatriate Charles Delauney. And when Teddy is kidnapped, Charles is first blamed, then arrested. But as the search for Teddy widens, even Marielle is scrutinized by the FBI and special agent John Taylor. Suspicions and accusations mingle with terror and heartbreak as every threat, every failure, every fear, is remembered, examined, explored.
During Charles Delauney's trial, a series of revalations begins to unravel the about Marielle, Charles, and Malcolm, uncovering the motives and passions controlling their lives.
Vanished is a tale of guilt, desire, suspense, and of people drawn inexorably together, seeking the child who... vanished.
Despite some redundancies and dimensionless supporting characters, Steel's 31st novel is a potent blend of romance and intrigue. When Marielle Delauney marries New York steel magnate Malcolm Patterson in 1939, she does not tell him of her tragic past--neither the drowning accident that claimed her first child, nor the subsequent beating by her husband Charles that caused her to miscarry, nor the two years she spent recovering in a sanitorium. But what does the enigmatic Malcolm already know? When they have their own child, Teddy, Malcolm, to all appearances, is an adoring father. The still-vulnerable Marielle begins to gain self-confidence, even though she endures daily confrontations with a hostile and even sinister household staff. Then the day after Marielle has a chance meeting with Charles, who drunkenly makes vague threats against Teddy, the four-year-old is snatched from his room, the nanny and nurse chloroformed and gagged. The FBI is summoned, Marielle's past is exposed by a frenzied media and Charles is arrested. But where is Teddy? The author of Mixed Blessings keeps her secrets well, and--the annoying reprises of critical scenes aside--presents a strong portrait of a tormented young woman moving toward stability. 1,000,000 first printing; Literary Guild & Doubleday Book Club main selections; major ad/promo.