Mary Higgins Clark has delivered to readers the fifteenth of her bestselling suspensers. In the
starring role this time is Lacey Farrell, a big-wheel real estate agent. Lacey sells luxury condos in
New York City and becomes friends with one of her clients, Isabelle Landi. Their conversations
are centered around Isabelle’s daughter, who died a couple of years ago in a car crash; however,
the mother is terribly disturbed because she does not believe that it was an accident. She is
convinced that the answer lies in a journal that her daughter kept until she died. As a result of her
curiosity, Isabelle is murdered in her daughter’s apartment just as Lacey enters the front door. In
her final moments, the dying woman gives her friend the journal — which Lacey imprudently
photocopies before handing over to the police. Now she is herself targeted for death, and the
only thing standing between Lacey and a killer is the Federal Witness Protection Program.
On the run from the killer, Lacey has been relocated to Minnesota and now has to wear a mask
and embrace an identity that is not her own. Looking over her shoulder every waking moment of
the day, she is far from having even the replica of a normal life. To make things worse, the killer
has tracked her to Minnesota. With the stalker too close for comfort, she returns to New York in
an effort to catch the killer and save herself.
The only element of the novel that intrigued me was the cat and mouse chase, with the killer
always two steps behind the victim. Aside from this, the novel had a lot of serious flaws. The
motive was not well illustrated, and we never learn anything about the villain — so when s/he is
finally unmasked, the reaction is puzzlement rather than catharsis. Furthermore, the motive turns
out to be very unimportant compared to the number of lives lost, which makes the story appear
to be pretty unrealistic. There were too many characters for a book of this length, and as a result
some of the most important ones fade into the background. I felt that the novel was not paced
well either, with some parts that were a terrible bore — like most of Lacey’s sojourn in the witness
protection program, including several scenes depicting her weeping worried relatives. Since this
type of book depends heavily on two aspects — unrelenting suspense and the reader’s acute
sympathy for the protagonist — these are not minor points. Finally, I should also mention that the
procedural details seem pretty weak — I know it’s just a plot pretense, but the standards for that
kind of thing have gotten much higher than Ms. Clark is apparently willing to go. This novel
needs extensive re-construction before it could hope to command a reader’s interest.
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