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Boston private investigators Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro are hired to find four-year-old Amanda McCready.
Despite extensive news coverage and dogged investigation into her abduction, the police have uncovered nothing. The case is rife with oddities: Amanda's indifferent mother, a couple with a history of paedophilia and a shadowy police unit. As the Indian summer fades, Amanda McCready stays gone - vanished so completely that she seems never to have existed.
When a second child disappears, Kenzie and Gennaro face a local media more interested in sensationalizing the abductions than helping to solve them, a local police force seething with lethal secrets, and a faceless power determined to obstruct their efforts. Caught in a deadly tangle of lies, and determined to unravel the riddle that is anything but child's play, they soon discover that those who go looking for the missing may not come back alive.
Vanished, in this complex and unsettling fourth case for PIs Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro (after Sacred, 1997) is four-year-old Amanda McCready, taken one night from her apartment in Dorchester, a working-class section of Boston, where her mother had left her alone. Kenzie and Gennaro, hired by the child's aunt and uncle, join in an unlikely alliance with Remy Broussard and Nick Raftopoulos, known as Poole, the two cops with the department's Crimes Against Children squad who are assigned to the case. In tracing the history of Amanda's neglectful mother, whose past involved her with a drug lord and his minions, the foursome quickly find themselves tangling with Boston's crime underworld and involved in what appears to be a coup among criminals. Lehane develops plenty of tension between various pairs of parties: the good guys looking for Amanda and the bad guys who may know where she is; the two PIs and the two cops; various police and federal agencies; opposing camps in the underworld; and Patrick and Angie, who are lovers as well as business partners. All is delivered with abundant violence--e.g., bloated and mutilated corpses; gangland executions; shoot-outs with weapons of prodigious firepower; descriptions of sexual abuse of small children; threats of rape and murder--that serves to make Amanda's likely fate all the more chilling. Lehane tackles corruption in many forms as he brings his complicated plot to its satisfying resolution, at the same time leaving readers to ponder moral questions about social and individual responsibility long after the last page is turned. Author tour.