14 September 2008

Review: WHERE ARE YOU NOW? Mary Higgins Clark

Simon & Schuster, 2008, hardback, 289 pages, ISBN 978-1-4165-6638-0

This is one of those books where the blurb on the book jacket doesn't really leave the reader much to find out (except the ultimate explanation). Read the blurb here.

Charles McKenzie Jr. disappeared ten years ago shortly after his 21st birthday. Every year on Mother's Day he rings his mother and assures her that he is fine. Even when his father died on 9/11 he didn't emerge from hiding.

And now his sister Carolyn has had enough. She is determined to find Mack and when he calls his mother on Mother's Day she interrupts and announces her intention to locate him.

Her search for Mack triggers a number of events including it seems the disappearance of a young woman, like Mack when he disappeared, on the eve of graduation. The connections with Mack's own disappearance are too coincidental to ignore.

While this story was very readable, it isn't what I call a "strong" book. In the final explanations there were just too many coincidences. The other thing I found a bit odd was that there were two narrators. Part of the book is written in the first person - that is the voice of Mack's sister Carolyn, as she pursues the investigation. The rest of the book is written in the third person - and the result is that as the reader we are "privy" to information that Carolyn doesn't have. I didn't find the blend a particularly comfortable one.

If you are looking for a quick read, this is probably a good one to pick up at the airport bookshop. The 79 chapters are invariably about 2 pages, but sometimes only half a page. They give WHERE ARE YOU NOW? an episodic feel which makes it easy to put down and take up again.
What drives this book is the sequence of events. It is a "whodunnit" rather than a "whydunnit" although in the long run all that the blurb leaves the reader to find out is the final who and why. It is a murder mystery but not a taxing read, and it's not going to be an award winner. Just one of those good reads from a very successful author.

My rating 4.0

Author website here. Read the first chapter of WHERE ARE YOU NOW?


Linkmeister said...

I read one of her books a while back on the theory that sales that big meant she had something going for her. I didn't like it at all, and asked the question of my readers, "did I just get a clunker, or are they all like this?"

I didn't get a particularly satisfactory answer. I did, however, find her daughter Carol's books on the shelf next to hers, and enjoyed the heck out of them. They're comic mysteries, and while they won't make you forget Westlake or Lawrence Bloch's Bernie, they're not bad.

Kerrie said...

It even occurred to me that this book may have been written in 2 parts - the first person bit and then the rest - or even by 2 writers

Anonymous said...

I make it a point never to read blurbs on books, as they often ruin the interest in the book.

I am a huge fan of MHC so will say no more, I just love her books. She's one of the handful of authors I will actually buy in hardback. I think part of her appeal for me, apart from her speedy plots, are that the main chracter is always such a nice woman who is independent, capable, honourable, etc - just what I would love to be (or have been).

Yes the books are formulaic, but for this reader, highly superior and enjoyable formula.

Linkmeister said...

So, maxine, is "You Belong To Me" a good example of her work or did she just have an off day when she wrote it?

It's damning with faint praise, but I didn't have the inclination to throw it into the trash the way I did with the one Linda Howard book I tried. ;)


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