Nancy Harmon long ago fled the heartbreak of her first marriage, the macabre deaths of her two little children, and the shocking charges against her. She changed her name, dyed her hair, and left California for the windswept peace of Cape Cod. Now remarried, she has two more beloved children, and the terrible pain has begun to heal — until the morning when she looks in the backyard for her little boy and girl and finds only one red mitten. She knows that the nightmare is beginning again…
Where Are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
After learning of Mary Higgins Clark’s passing, I thought I would pick up her first suspense novel, Where Are the Children? which was published by Simon & Schuster in 1975. I haven’t read any of her works in a while and I just have to say that I loved flipping through the old paperback book I found with all its page patina glory.
I loved the pacing of this one. It fit the crime story well since it was mainly plot driven and straight to the point, no meandering in atmospheric details which I quite enjoyed for this type of narrative. The plot is brought into view from multiple perspectives with a reveal that left me at a tipping point at the end of every chapter, peaking around the corners, as well-written suspense should have.
I really liked simple yet descriptive lines like:
“It was only when her vision blurred that she realized that tears were swimming in her eyes.”
“Startled, she looked up. Jonathan must have cut through the woods from his house. His face was deeply creased today. She knew he must be nearly sixty years old, and today he looked every bit of it.”
“The fire licked hungrily at the thick logs.”
It was a style of writing that I think really captured and beautified what was going on along with proper perspective to come with it without making it feel over embellished.
I liked that all the scenarios remained focused and directed to the endpoint.
There was kind of a bit of catching up to do with backstory around the 3-4/5th of the book which may have benefited from being placed elsewhere so it didn’t create that sense of “Oh time to better explain that.” It wasn’t exactly to the point of me being too overly distracted in the reading… or getting too lost in the newly revealed details… or subsequent urge to look for plot holes, but briefly enough to take me out if the trajectory of the story for a wee bit. Couple that with a sort of disconnect I felt about the main character Nancy, I sort of wasn’t sure what to think at one point.
However it quickly picked up again and the scenes did fall into place. I imagine it is difficult to explain changing scenes and changing POVs when you want to tell them all at the same time. They all have them make sense and keep the suspense up simultaneously.
Really enjoyed it.