Mary Higgins Clark has delivered to readers the fifteenth of her bestselling suspensers. In thestarring role this time is Lacey Farrell, a big-wheel real estate agent. Lacey sells luxury condos inNew York City and becomes friends with one of her clients, Isabelle Landi. Their conversationsare 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 isconvinced that the answer lies in a journal that her daughter kept until she died.
As a result of hercuriosity, Isabelle is murdered in her daughter’s apartment just as Lacey enters the front door. Inher final moments, the dying woman gives her friend the journal — which Lacey imprudentlyphotocopies before handing over to the police. Now she is herself targeted for death, and theonly 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 maskand embrace an identity that is not her own.
Looking over her shoulder every waking moment ofthe day, she is far from having even the replica of a normal life. To make things worse, the killerhas tracked her to Minnesota. With the stalker too close for comfort, she returns to New York inan 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 killeralways two steps behind the victim. Aside from this, the novel had a lot of serious flaws. Themotive was not well illustrated, and we never learn anything about the villain — so when s/he isfinally unmasked, the reaction is puzzlement rather than catharsis.
Furthermore, the motive turnsout to be very unimportant compared to the number of lives lost, which makes the story appearto be pretty unrealistic. There were too many characters for a book of this length, and as a resultsome of the most important ones fade into the background. I felt that the novel was not pacedwell either, with some parts that were a terrible bore — like most of Lacey’s sojourn in the witnessprotection program, including several scenes depicting her weeping worried relatives. Since thistype of book depends heavily on two aspects — unrelenting suspense and the reader’s acutesympathy for the protagonist — these are not minor points.
Finally, I should also mention that theprocedural details seem pretty weak — I know it’s just a plot pretense, but the standards for thatkind of thing have gotten much higher than Ms. Clark is apparently willing to go. This novelneeds extensive re-construction before it could hope to command a reader’s interest. Bibliography: