Synopses & Reviews
From America’s Queen of Suspense and #1 New York Times
bestselling author comes 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.
Mack’s sister, Carolyn, is now twenty-six, a law school graduate, and has just finished her clerkship for a civil court judge in Manhattan. She has endured two family tragedies, yet she realizes that she will never be able to have closure and get on with her life until she finds her brother. She resolves to discover what happened to Mack and why he has found it necessary to hide from them. So this year when Mack makes his annual Mother’s Day call, Carolyn interrupts to announce her intention to track him down, no matter what it takes. The next morning after Mass, her uncle, Monsignor Devon MacKenzie, receives a scrawled message left in the collection basket: “Uncle Devon, tell Carolyn she must not look for me.”
International bestselling suspense writer Mary Higgins Clark proves she knows how to tell a gripping story with this mystery of a family tragedy and one woman's dangerous quest for the truth.
The international bestselling Queen of Suspense proves she knows how to tell a gripping story with this mystery of a family tragedy and one woman's dangerous quest for the truth about the man she's loved since childhood.
About the Author
Mary Higgins Clark
's books are world-wide bestsellers. In the U.S. alone, her books have sold over 85 million copies.
Her next suspense novel, Where Are You Now? will be published by SimonandSchuster in April 2008.
She is the author of twenty-six previous suspense novels, Where Are the Children? (1975), A Stranger Is Watching (1978), The Cradle Will Fall (1980), A Cry in the Night (1982), Stillwatch (1984), Weep No More, My Lady (1987), While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989), Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991), All Around the Town (1992), I'll Be Seeing You (1993), Remember Me (1994), Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995), Silent Night (1995), Moonlight Becomes You (1996), Pretend You Don't See Her (1997), You Belong To Me (1998), All Through the Night (1998), We'll Meet Again (1999), Before I Say Good-Bye (2000), On the Street Where You Live (2001), Daddy's Little Girl (2002), The Second Time Around (2003), Nighttime is My Time (2004), No Place Like Home (2005), Two Little Girls in Blue (2006) and I Heard That Song Before (2007). She is the author of three collections of short stories, The Anastasia SyndromeandOther Stories (1989), The Lottery Winner: AlvirahandWilly Stories (1994) and My Gal Sunday: Henry and Sunday Stories (1996). Her first book, a biographical novel about George Washington, was re-issued with the title, Mount Vernon Love Story, in June 2002. Her memoir, Kitchen Privileges, was published by SimonandSchuster in November 2002. Her first children's book, Ghost Ship, illustrated by Wendell Minor, was published in April 2007 as a Paula Wiseman Book/SimonandSchuster Books for Young Readers.
She is co-author, with her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, of four holiday suspense novels Deck the Halls (2000), He Sees You When You're Sleeping (2001), The Christmas Thief (2004) and Santa Cruise (2006).
Two of her novels were made into feature films, Where Are the Children? and A Stranger Is Watching. Many of her other works, novels and short stories, were made into television films.
Mary Higgins Clark's fame as a writer was achieved against heavy odds. Born and raised in the Bronx, her father died when she was eleven and her mother struggled to raise her and her two brothers. On graduating from high school, she went to secretarial school, so she could get a job and help with the family finances. After three years of working in an advertising agency, travel fever seized her. For the year 1949, she was a stewardess on Pan American Airlines' international flights. "My run was Europe, Africa and Asia," she recalls. "I was in a revolution in Syria and on the last flight into Czechoslovakia before the Iron Curtain went down." After flying for a year, she married a neighbor, Warren Clark, nine years her senior, whom she had known since she was 16. Soon after her marriage, she started writing short stories, finally selling her first to Extension Magazine in 1956 for $100.
Left a young widow by the death of her husband from a heart attack in 1964, Mary Higgins Clark went to work writing radio scripts and, in addition, decided to try her hand at writing books. Every morning, she got up at 5 AM and wrote until 7 AM, when she had to get her five children ready for school. Her very first book was a biographical novel about George Washington, inspired by a radio series she was writing, "Portrait of a Patriot." Originally published in 1969 by Meredith Press with the title Aspire to the Heavens, it was discovered years later by a Washington family member and re-issued in 2002 with the title, Mount Vernon Love Story.
Mary Higgins Clark's first suspense novel, Where Are the Children? was published by SimonandSchuster in 1975. It became a bestseller and marked a turning point in her life and career. It is currently in its 75th edition in paperback and was re-issued in hardcover as a SimonandSchuster classic.
Freed to catch up on things she always wanted to do, she entered Fordham University at Lincoln Center, graduating summa cum laude in 1979 with a B.A. in philosophy. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from Fordham University in 1998. She is a past trustee of Fordham University and Providence College and currently on the Board of Governors of the Hackensack College Medical Center. She has nineteen honorary doctorates.
She is #1 fiction bestselling author in France, where she received the Grand Prix de Literature Policière in 1980 and The Literary Award at the 1998 Deauville Film Festival. In 2000, she was named by the French Minister of Culture "Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters."
Mary Higgins Clark was chosen by Mystery Writers of America as Grand Master of the 2000 Edgar Awards. An annual Mary Higgins Clark Award sponsored by SimonandSchuster, to be given to authors of suspense fiction writing in the Mary Higgins Clark tradition, was launched by Mystery Writers of America during Edgars week in April 2001. She was the 1987 president of Mystery Writers of America and, for many years, served on their Board of Directors. In May 1988, she was Chairman of the International Crime Congress.
Active in Catholic affairs, Mary Higgins Clark was made a Dame of the Order of St. Gregory the Great, a papal honor. She is also a Dame of Malta and a Lady of the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. She received the Catholic Big Sisters Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and the Graymoor Award from the Franciscan Friars in 1999. Honors she has received include the Gold Medal of Honor from the American-Irish Historical Society (1993), the Spirit of Achievement Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (1994), the National Arts Club's first Gold Medal in Education (1994), the Horatio Alger Award (1997), the Outstanding Mother of the Year Award (1998), the Bronx Legend Award (1999),the 2001 Ellis Island Medal of Honor, the Passionists' Ethics in Literature Award (2002), the first Reader's Digest Author of the Year Award (2002), the Christopher Life Achievement Award (2003), the Ellis Island Family Heritage Award (2008), the Carol M. Reilly Award (2008) and the International Mystery Writers' First Lady of Mystery Award (2008). She is an active advocate and participant in literacy programs.
In 1996, Mary Higgins Clark married John Conheeney, the retired Chairman and CEO of Merrill-Lynch Futures. They live in Saddle River, New Jersey. Between them, they have seventeen grandchildren - Mary's six and John's eleven.
Reading Group Guide
It's been ten years since twenty-one-year-old Charles "Mack" MacKenzie, Jr. went missing. A Columbia University senior, about to graduate and already enrolled in Duke University Law School, he walked out of his room in Manhattan's Upper West Side without a word to his roommates and has never been seen again. However, he makes 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, and hangs up. Even the death of his father on 9/11 does not bring him home.
Mack's sister Carolyn, now twenty six, is a law school graduate applying to work as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan. She has endured two family tragedies: her brother's inexplicable disappearance and the loss of her father. Realizing that neither she nor her mother will ever get on with their lives without some answers, she sets out to discover what happened to Mack, and why he finds it necessary to hide from them.
Carolyn's pursuit of the truth about Mack's disappearance swiftly plunges her into a world of unexpected changes and ultimately into a deadly confrontation with someone close to her who suddenly becomes an enemy -- and cannot allow her to disclose his secret...
1. Carolyn has a dream about Mack, "following a shadowy figure who was walking across a bridge....I heard him calling me, his voice mournful and troubled. Carolyn, stay back, stay back." (6) What do you think this dream means? Why must Carolyn "stay back?" What does the bridge symbolize?
2. What role does media exposure play in Mack and Leesey's cases? Does the media help or hinder the investigation? The killer freely admits, "I like the headlines." (111) Why does he crave media attention? What steps does he take to keep Leesey and Mack in the headlines?
3. Aaron Klein observes, "Elliott can't mention Olivia MacKenzie's name without getting stars in his eyes." (56) Do you think Elliott genuinely loves Olivia, or is his affection another part of his false identity? Explain your answer.
4. Carolyn confides in Nick about her mother, "Mack was always her favorite. He did everything right. I'm too impulsive for Mom's taste." (194) Do you think Carolyn is right about her mother's preference? How does this belief fuel her determination to find Mack?
5. Chapter 21 reveals the mind of the serial killer for the first time. What does the murderer's perspective add to the novel?
6. Carolyn carefully chooses her outfits throughout her investigation. In Martha's Vineyard, for example, "I didn't want to seem either overdressed or too casual. I wanted no sense of being Mack's little sister when I saw Barbara." (228) Why are appearances important to Carolyn? How are they crucial to Elliott, too?
7. Why does Barbara hide her son's paternity? Do you find her motives selfish or reasonable? After confronting Barbara about Mack's son, Carolyn and Olivia agree "to wait until he is older to tell him the truth." (288) Why do they consent to Barbara's request? What is the appropriate age for this revelation?
8. Carolyn reveals at the end of the novel, "Nick and I were married three months ago." (289) How are Nick and Carolyn compatible? What, if anything, makes them an unlikely couple? Do you think Olivia MacKenzie approves of her new son-in-law? Why or why not?
9. While you were reading, who was your first suspect in Leesey's kidnapping? Did you switch to a different suspect over the course of the novel? Were you surprised when the murderer -- and his uncle -- were finally revealed?
10. "Love or money...That's what Lucas Reeves said were the causes of the majority of crimes." (265) What is the cause of the crimes in Where Are You Now? -- love or money? Or both?
Enhance Your Book Club:
1. Mary Higgins Clark reveals how she gets her ideas: "I read an article in a newspaper or magazine, and for some reason it sticks in my mind." (vii) Find an unsolved mystery in the newspaper and answer the same three questions Mary Higgins Clark asks herself: "Suppose? What if? Why?" Share an imaginary plot surrounding your chosen mystery with your book club!
2. Print a copy of Shakespeare's Sonnet 29, which Mack recites on tape for his acting class with Esther Klein. Read the sonnet aloud to your book group and discuss your interpretations. The sonnet can be found here: http://www.bartleby.com/70/50029.html.
3. Get inspired by Leesey Andrews, who loves to dance, and take your book club to a local bar or club that features live music. Dance the night away, but don't get into a stranger's SUV at the end of the night!
4. On a map of New York City, plot some of the sites from Where Are You Now? -- Sutton Place, West End Avenue, Thompson Street, 104th and Riverside, and the district attorney's office at 1 Hogan Place.
5. Check out the real estate section of the newspaper and discuss the local market with your book club. Is it a good time to buy up properties, as Derek Olsen did in the 1960s, or to sell them off, as he does at the end of the novel?