Vanish In an InstantBy: Millar, Margaret (female)
Publisher: Dell Publishing Co., Inc. (730)
Place of Publication: New York, NY
Catalog #: Kelley Box 679: PS3563 .I48 V36 1952
Contributor: T. McElroy
GeneralEra: 1950s Author as on Cover: Margaret Millar Geographic Locale: Arbana, Michigan Date of Publication: 1952 | Original Date: 1952 Setting: suburban; small town forty miles west of Detroit Motives: adultery, terminal illness, money
When Virginia Hamilton Barkeley is found wandering along the highway, drunk and covered in blood, the police are led to a gruesome discovery. Claude Margolis is found dead of stab wounds to the neck. Though Virginia is the prime suspect, a most unlikely murderer soon steps forward, and Eric Meecham, Virginia's lawyer, is left wondering what really happened. His investigation of the crime and all persons involved results in an unexpected romance along with many twists and turns before the identity of the actual murderer is revealed.
Virginia Hamilton Barkeley adult female, 26 years old, long dark hair, very pale, housewife
Mrs. Hamilton adult female, middle-aged, plump, brown hair turning gray, head too large for her body, small-boned, brisk and vigorous nature
Alice Dwyer adult female, fresh-faced, girl-next-door looks, blonde hair, hired companion
Eric Meecham adult male, mid-30s, tall, well-dressed, slightly poor posture, lawyer
Claude Margolis adult male, 42 years old, tall, sleek, dark hair, contractor
Earl Duane Loftus adult male, short, young/old face, swollen misshapen body, sickly-looking, accountant
Clara Loftus adult female, elderly, small, very thin
Jim Hearst adult male, ruddy complexion, fair hair, pale eyes, body running to fat, sales representative
Emmy Hearst a.k.a. Jemima Falconer, "Birdie" Loftus, adult female, tall, slender, red (henna) hair, square forcible jaw, gentle mouth, boarding house owner, homemaker
Level of Violence
one victim is stabbed five times in the neck; there is a description of a lot of blood, but the actual scene is implied. There is one suicide by hanging; most of the details are implied.
sexuality is secondary to the plot. Adultery is discussed briefly and later referred to without detail. Although the lawyer and Alice Dwyer become romantically linked, sexuality is not explicit.
traditional; gender is not important to the plot
one character refers to her husband as a "Wop" during an argument
the accused (Virginia Barkeley) drank to the point of loss of memory. Clara Loftus is an alcoholic, drunk in every scene in which she is involved.
the local sheriff is a minor character in the first one-third of the novel.
class distinctions seem to impact the behavior of the characters. Mrs. Hamilton assumes that the lawyer is not capable because he practices in a small town, and she regards her companion as "hired help." Jim Hearst wants to be successful, but feels insecure because he isn't. Mrs. Clara Loftus lives in the past, thinking of when she was well off, had a husband, etc.
Adultery/ Murder/ Michigan/ Law and Lawyers/ Alcohol/ Alcoholism/ Guilt
various characters deal with guilt, depression, substance abuse, terminal illness and insecurity.