Prodigal Son

Prodigal Son

by Danielle Steel


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Twin boys grow up in the same family, in the same town. Dramatically different, they become bitter enemies, even as children. One good, one bad. One leaves his peaceful hometown, but when all else fails, the prodigal son returns, twenty years later. The reunion of brothers, sweet and healing at first, exposes shattering revelations of good and evil. #1 New York Times bestselling author Danielle Steel tells a brilliant, suspenseful story of suspicion, betrayal, and a life-and-death struggle for survival. Which twin is good and which is evil, as the tables turn again and again?
In a matter of days, Peter McDowell loses everything he has worked so hard for—his wealth, his property, his livelihood as a star investment banker. And then it gets worse. The stock market crash not only plunges Peter into joblessness, it causes a rift in his marriage that he cannot repair. Stripped of everything, he has only one place to retreat: a lakeside cottage he inherited from his parents, who left most of their modest estate to Peter’s twin. With no other choice, the prodigal son goes home.
A beloved small-town doctor, a devoted family man, and a pillar of his community, Michael McDowell serves others without regard to personal gain. Only Peter knows how Michael manipulated their parents when the boys were young, ultimately driving Peter away. At first, he dreads seeing Michael again. But, to his surprise, their reunion is tender and real. Only later, as Peter mulls over his late mother’s journals, does the truth begin to emerge, as realization and panic begin to set in. Who is his twin? Is the façade real, or does something terrifying lie beneath? Imagination or a reality too terrifying to believe?
In a race for time, Peter throws caution to the winds to find the truth. What he discovers will change their lives forever, the lives of their children, and an entire town.
Powerful, poignant, and filled with complex and layered characters, Prodigal Son is a riveting novel of secrets, salvation, and redemption from master storyteller Danielle Steel.

Praise for Prodigal Son
“Fraternal twins raised together [turn] out to be very different and very much in conflict. One twin leaves home, but when this prodigal son returns, is he the evil twin, or is his brother? Steel yourself.”Library Journal
“Readers should be prepared for revelations of wickedness on a vast scale.”Publishers Weekly

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780385343152
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/24/2015
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 738,541
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 650 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Pegasus, A Perfect Life, Power Play, Winners, First Sight, Until the End of Time, The Sins of the Mother, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children’s book Pretty Minnie in Paris.


San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 14, 1947

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67

Read an Excerpt

Prodigal Son

A Novel

By Danielle Steel

Random House LLC

Copyright © 2015 Danielle Steel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-385-34315-2


Peter McDowell sat in his office, surrounded by cardboard bankers' boxes after what had been the worst week of his life. The last month had been a nightmare, not just for him but for everyone on Wall Street. Peter stared at the screen on his desk, which he had been doing since early that morning, and for the past five days. It was Friday, the tenth of October, and stock prices had been plummeting since Monday. It was the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression.

Landmark events had taken place in recent weeks that had heralded the collapse of the house of cards. Twenty-six days earlier, Lehman Brothers, one of the oldest and most respected investment banks, had filed for bankruptcy, stunning the financial world. Even more stunning was the government's refusal to bail them out, although six months before they had done so for Bear Stearns, which had been bought by JPMorgan Chase. Just before Lehman Brothers' historic announcement, Bank of America had announced that it was acquiring equally venerable and respected Merrill Lynch. Investment banks and financial institutions were staggering like drunks all over Wall Street, and several smaller banks had already closed. And the day after Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, the largest insurer in the nation lost 95 percent of its value, and six days later was removed from the Dow Jones.

And with everyone reeling over alarming daily announcements, Whitman Broadbank, the investment bank where Peter McDowell worked and had established his meteoric career, announced that they were folding as well. Peter had been told three days before, as the stock market continued to plunge. It was hard to wrap his mind around it, as he leaned his head against the boxes on his desk. That afternoon at six o'clock, they were closing their doors. Peter's golden career, and famously high-risk investments, with previously outstanding results, were no more. He was putting whatever he had left in his office in boxes. He had told his wife, Alana, and their boys, Ryan and Ben, the night before.

"What does that mean, Dad?" Ryan had asked him with a look of panic. He was fourteen years old. Peter didn't dare read off the litany of things that were about to change for them all. Everything had to be sold. The firm had been leveraged to the hilt. The stock that Peter had gladly acquired in lieu of profits or salary on many occasions, and that consisted of most of his personal fortune, was worthless paper now. The house in the Hamptons was history, the time share of a plane, their penthouse on Fifth Avenue, private schools, credit cards, the Ferrari he played with on the weekends and the boys loved to ride in, Alana's Bentley, and the brand-new Rolls. All were expensive unimportant toys and symbols of his success. More important, all of their security and way of life had evaporated into thin air. His money and investments were all in Whitman Broadbank, and whatever else he had had gone down the drain with the stock market collapse in the past five days. There was virtually nothing left, or so little that it hardly counted. Peter couldn't think of a single area of his life that wouldn't be affected by what had just happened to the economy, except his marriage and his boys. Alana had been painfully silent and watched him, as he explained it all to them. But even Peter didn't fully understand it yet. No one did. The day before, Iceland had declared the country bankrupt and closed its stock market, and other countries around the world were watching in panic, as they saw the American stock market fall and implode.

Peter finally managed to tear his eyes from the screen that had mesmerized him all week. His secretary had already left that morning, and there was silence in the halls. Others were doing what he was, loading a few personal things into boxes, and carrying them downstairs. All of them were facing the demise of their careers and radically changed lives as a result.

Peter stood up and dropped one of the boxes in the doorway. It was hard to imagine now what he was going to do about work. People were getting fired left and right, and there were hundreds of overqualified candidates for whatever jobs remained. In the musical chairs of the financial game, thousands had wound up without a seat, and Peter was no better off than the rest. His success had been extraordinary for the past 21 years, since he hitched his wagon to the star of Whitman Broadbank fresh out of business school when he was twenty-five. Now he was forty-six, virtually broke, and out of a job, and so was almost everyone he knew, with the exception of the lucky few who had survived the tidal wave of the past month. No one he knew had been untouched.

Peter had been famous for years, with almost every deal he made, but not this time. This time he had taken a fall with all the rest. His luck had finally run out. This wasn't the way he had expected his career to end, but it wasn't over yet; he wasn't about to give up. He was ready to do whatever it took to clean up the mess, tighten his belt, and he knew that sooner or later he'd be back. He just didn't know when, or how to accomplish it yet. And for now things were going to be tough. He had warned Alana and the boys of that. They were putting both the house in the Hamptons and the apartment in New York on the market that weekend, although real estate prices had already been hit, and were going to experience a severe drop. He would take whatever they could get. And as soon as the New York apartment sold, he was going to have to figure out where they were going to live. He knew that as long as the family stuck together, they'd be all right.

They had to get past this terrifying time and figure out what to do, and where to go from here. He'd been thinking that he could get a job in a small local bank, somewhere outside New York, and make a comeback on Wall Street when the economy was healthy again. He had grown up in a small Massachusetts town, and realized he might have to leave New York for a while and start from scratch. He had lain awake every night all week, thinking about it. All he had left now was a lot of worthless stock, and whatever cash they had on hand, which wasn't much.

He had insisted that Alana let their live-in couple go earlier that week. They didn't have a penny to spare. The couple had been nice about it and said they understood, several of their friends were in the same situation. And they'd been smart enough to keep their savings liquid in the bank. He smiled to himself, thinking that their housekeeping couple were probably in better financial shape than he was right now. He had tried to get them to invest their money, and they'd said they didn't trust any bank or investment services. Everything they had was in cash. And cash was king right now.

Peter rode down in the elevator carrying two of his boxes, with two junior partners, one of whom looked as though he were about to cry. Like most of them, he had been wiped out. Partners and employees who had been on top of the world only a few months before were now back to square one. Peter called it the Chutes and Ladders of life. One minute you're way up at the top, in the stratosphere, and the next minute you're down at the bottom, flat on your ass. It had never happened to Peter before.

"Don't give up, Marshall," Peter said to one of the men. "We'll be back."

"I'm going back to Ohio," the junior partner said, looking depressed, "to work for my dad at his factory. All I had was Broadbank stock." It was the situation that most of them were in. And even those who had other stocks knew they were worthless now.

"We're all in the same boat," Peter said, determined to be positive about it, although he had given in to panic himself many times in the last week, in the dark of night. But there had to be a light at the end of the tunnel eventually, even if they were going down the tubes right now. He refused to be beaten by this. It was bad, but it had to get better again at some point.

Peter left them with a nod on the ground floor. He put the two boxes in the back of the car he had parked outside. He was using the Volvo station wagon that their couple used to drive to do errands for them. He was planning to take his other cars to a fancy used-car lot for high-end cars that weekend. There was going to be a glut of fancy cars on the market, but whatever he got for them was good enough. He had listed his Ferrari on the Internet that week. And Alana had cried when he told her she had to give up her Bentley. There was no room in their life for luxuries right now.

He brought down four more boxes, and looked at his office for a last time, wondering when he would have a palatial office like this again. Maybe never. Maybe he'd never be back. Maybe it really was all over, as everyone feared. He felt a wave of terror wash over him and then turned around and walked out. He stopped to see two of his partners, but everyone he wanted to say goodbye to was already gone. There would be meetings in the coming weeks about their bankruptcy proceedings, but for now, everyone was leaving the sinking ship and worrying about themselves.

Peter was silent as he rode down the elevator for the last time. He was a tall, athletic-looking man, who appeared younger than his years. He played a lot of tennis on the weekends, worked out with a trainer in the gym he had had built in the apartment, and he was slim and fit. There were a few strands of gray in his sandy blond hair, but it didn't show. He looked like the perfect all-American boy next door. All his life, or at least in recent years, he had been the image of the Golden Boy. For years now, he had embodied success. That hadn't been the case in his youth, when he felt like a screw-up, and had been treated like one. He had been labeled the family black sheep, compared to his perfect fraternal twin brother, whom his parents had revered.

Peter had been every parent's nightmare, a bright, handsome boy who did abysmally at school and was constantly in trouble, suspended or on probation, either for his behavior or his appalling grades. Undiagnosed dyslexia had nearly destroyed his youth. His classmates called him stupid, teachers got frustrated with him and eventually gave up, and neither Peter nor his parents could understand his difficulties at school. His parents were educated and intelligent, and Peter appeared to be smart, but he was always accused of not trying, being lazy, and was punished for homework assignments he didn't complete. And even he couldn't explain why the letters on the page and the directions he was given made no sense. He punished the boys who made fun of him, with his fists. It was common for him to come home from school with a torn shirt and a black eye, and having delivered worse, while in the lower grades. In high school he took on an attitude of indifference, hostility, and arrogance to cover the sense of failure and incompetence he felt.

And all the while, his brother Michael was exemplary in every way. He wasn't as good looking as Peter, or as dazzling in some ways. He was shorter, stockier, quieter, and didn't have Peter's looks. Their mother always said that Peter could have been a star if he would just do his homework and behave himself. Michael was always solid and polite, dedicated to his schoolwork, and got outstanding grades. They never had to worry about Michael. It was Peter who nearly broke their hearts every time he failed again. And Michael was always quietly on the sidelines, pointing out Peter's inability to do what was expected of him, or control himself. Michael goaded Peter to lose his temper, whenever no one was watching, and on the rare occasions when Michael did something he shouldn't have, he saw to it that Peter got the blame. It was easy for their parents and teachers to believe that Michael was innocent and Peter the guilty party. By the time they finished high school, Peter's parents were in despair over him. His childhood tantrums had turned into adolescent rages, based on the intolerable frustration he had lived with for eighteen years. He couldn't win his parents' approval, or anyone else's, so he had given up trying to win it or do anything he should. He and his brother were staunch enemies by then, and Peter saw him as the cause of many of the ills that plagued him, or even most of them. Peter could never measure up to him. And all of them were astonished when Peter got into college. He had one dedicated high school teacher who had written an extraordinary recommendation for him, insisting that beyond his poor grades and checkered school career was a remarkably bright, creative young man who would one day overcome his problems. He called him a "late bloomer," which was the kindest thing anyone had ever said about him, and assured the college that had accepted him that he would make them proud one day.

And once in college, Peter's entire life had changed. An English professor had taken a profound interest in him, sensed that his earlier poor grades were not due to laziness, and had sent him for sophisticated testing at the learning center. Like a specter in the mists that no one had previously suspected or seen, the dyslexia that had caused him so much pain emerged and was diagnosed. The English professor who had sent him for testing became his mentor and tutored him personally for all four years. The results had been remarkable, and Peter himself was astounded at what he was able to accomplish.


Excerpted from Prodigal Son by Danielle Steel. Copyright © 2015 Danielle Steel. Excerpted by permission of Random House LLC, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Prodigal Son 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. ...I was quite surprised at how it turned out. I was hoping things had changed between the brothers.... but again Danielle Steele nailed it! Laro8665 in GA.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Pure Danielle Steel that we have all come to count on over the years. A great read. You will enjoy it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good read in typical Danielle Steel style.
PetePA More than 1 year ago
I'm 7 chapters in, and while the story line is good so far, the constant repeating of the same information over and over and over and over again is getting old.  Maybe she had a set number of pages she had to hit to publish the book?  Stop the repeating, and this could have been a short story.  While I want to see what happens, I've considered stopping several times because the repeating is getting so annoying.
goskins21 More than 1 year ago
Vintage Danielle Steele! This book reminded me of her earlier novels...loved it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed until the last page. One of her best novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My first Danielle Steel novel.  The story was very interesting and I enjoyed it.  However, I do agree that there was way to much repetition, especially at the beginning.  It seemed that some of the repetitive sentences  were word for word. Other than that, I would highly recommend reading the book .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I never write reviews of books because it's almost a matter of opinion whether the book is "good" or "bad." However, I am astonished that this book ever got published. Like many other reviewers noted, there is a LOT of repetition in this book. Danielle Steele repeats the same thing over and over again, like she is trying to use up space.  The same story could have been told with 50% fewer pages. The plot isn't even interesting as it was super easy to figure out exactly what was going to happen. I kept waiting for something special or different to occur in the story line, but it never did. I have been a Danielle Steele fan for many, many years and have read most of what she has written and have enjoyed most of them. This book was a HUGE disappointment and a waste of money. 
nanaoftwo More than 1 year ago
Have to be honest and say this was not the best book Danielle Steel has written. It probably could have been a few pages shorter because of the repeating that was done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed this book after being in banking for 40 yrs i could relate to peter and his situation i loved the characters and loved the way the story came together dont think you can ever go wrong with ds books
Happy-GG More than 1 year ago
I truly enjoyed this book and have already recommended it to my friends. It was a very different plot and I enjoyed it very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I would read other books by this author. I will recommend this book to my book club.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed D Steele but have not picked up one of her books in a long time. Her writing has changed so much it was hard to believe I was reading the same author. It started out pretty ok but then I started to notice some repetition. Then so much that I thought I was not turning the pages. It was like reading the same thing over and over. So annoying that I had trouble keeping with the storyline. Difficult to realize that whoever edited this book if in fact there was editing that this was not picked up. Many reviews with 1 or 2 ratings were because of the repetition so its not just me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is my first Danielle Steel novel and it may just be my last. I'm utterly shocked she is as popular as she is. She repeats descriptions constantly, the plot is very slow to really even get going, and the characters are not very believable...nor are they anyone you really want to know about. It seems like light reading with the bare minimum required to keep you in it. I was not impressed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Waste of money.  Danielle is getting very lazy.  This book is only 240 pages and half the book is repeating itself.  Horrible.  I will not buy again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always enjoy Danielle Steel books including the Prodigal Son. The book had lots of twists and turns which kept me interested all the way to the end. I will continue to buy Steel's books as they always have a heartfelt message and the characters are portrayed perfectly. Joyce
community More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this book.....good story.....keep writing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Exciting! Interesting story! Good character development! Surprising moments! Just a great, great rrad!
happiestwen More than 1 year ago
You know how her books are right? Not this one! Slip into this family and really get to know them! You won't be able to stop till you read the very last word. What a book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I recommend it. Held my attention to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm really glad this was not a straightforward romance novel. Truthfully, that was sorta what I was expecting...imagine my pleasant surprise to find myself reading a mystery full of delicious evil doings! :) Enjoy! Cheers, Lisa (@NurseLisainOhio)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put the book down...
Anonymous 19 days ago
As usual another great book for Danielle Steel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book surprising ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fabulous book. You will not figure out the ending. It's a truly Fabulous book Can't wait for next book!!!!