From the publisher's description of Mary Higgins Clark's latest novel, Where are you now? : "a gripping tale of a young woman trying to unravel the mystery of a family tragedy — a quest with terrifying repercussions. It has been ten years since twenty-one-year-old Charles MacKenzie Jr. ("Mack") went missing. A Columbia University senior, about to graduate and already accepted at Duke University Law School, he walked out of his apartment on Manhattan's Upper West Side without a word to his college roommates and has never been seen again. However, he does make one ritual phone call to his mother every year: on Mother's Day. Each time, he assures her he is fine, refuses to answer her frantic questions, then hangs up. Even the death of his father, a corporate lawyer, in the tragedy of 9/11 does not bring him home or break the pattern of his calls."
Such is the premise, from which the author constructs a perfectly judged, multi-faceted, well-plotted mystery. Mack's sister Carolyn, the usual capable, independent MHC heroine, decides once and for all to find out what happened to her brother. Against family resistance and police apathy, she stimulates reactions among old friends and acquaintances of her brother. We soon realise that other disappearances in the intervening years may be related to the case. Soon, a young woman vanishes after spending the evening in a nightclub owned by Mack's old college room-mate, and a race against time begins. All the characters seem slightly off-kilter in some way, providing a subliminally sinister atmosphere as Carolyn pursues any lead she can find. Alternating chapters are told from the point of view of Carolyn or are told in the third person, shifting perspectives that keep you on-edge and guessing right up to the end. As usual with this author, one is left with the feeling that the villain could have been any of the characters, but who cares? The tension is intense, human emotions are well-conveyed, the book's pages fly by, the solution and rationale, when they are revealed, all hold together, and the read is totally enjoyable. Another hit for Mary Higgins Clark, who definitely lives up to her longstanding title "America's Queen of Suspense" so far as I am concerned.
My thanks to Karen Meek of Euro Crime for my copy of this book, which is published by Simon & Schuster (April 2008).