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by Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster, May 2007
336 pages
17.99 GBP
ISBN: 0743268571

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Mary Higgins Clark has produced another suspense novel to add to her bibliography. This tale has, as its main theme, sleepwalking. As a sometime somnambulist myself, I was unable to resist the lure of, perhaps, learning something new about the condition. While that wish wasn't granted, at least I was able to read an engaging tale to while away a slow evening.

Librarian Kay Lansing, now 28, is visiting the Carrington mansion in order to interest the scion of that house, Peter Carrington, in a literacy project. She wishes to hold a fundraising cocktail event in the mansion but fears she did not put her case sufficiently persuasively for it to happen. To her surprise, her request is granted. Not only that but also, some weeks subsequently, she is married to Peter Carrington. Kay is astonished to discover that Peter sleepwalks.

Kay is not completely unfamiliar with the mansion since she had visited it, in the company of her landscaper father, when she was six years old. At the time, she had crept into the house, unobserved, and visited the chapel within the house. Whilst there, she was forced to hide between the pews when a man and a woman entered the chapel. The ensuing conversation remained with Kay throughout the years and it isn't until the present that she realises it was a blackmail attempt. Soon thereafter Kay's father disappeared, an apparent suicide, although his body was never recovered.

There is a mystery associated with Peter Carrington. A girl, Susan Althorp, disappeared about the same time as Kay's exploration of the chapel. Peter had driven her home on the night of her disappearance. Then Peter's pregnant wife Grace drowned and he became a suspect in a possible murder.

Gladys Althorp, mother of Susan, is gravely ill but determined to solve the mystery of the disappearance of her daughter. She hires investigator Nicholas Greco to take on the case.

Horror attacks the Carrington bride when workmen, digging on the property to lay new cables, unearth what remains of the body of a woman. The remains are, of course, those of Susan Althorp so Peter is indicted for the girl's murder.

It almost goes without saying that a work by Mary Higgins Clark is beautifully written. The book is also well researched and the author has hit on an intriguing theme. The plot is sufficiently intricate to maintain the reader's interest and the characters are adequately sympathetic.

My one criticism is certainly not with any real aspect of the plot but with the author's publicity. She is touted as the 'Queen of Suspense' yet I didn't sense a great deal of apprehension in this outing. In this instance, however, it may be my jaded palate to blame rather than any fault on the author's part.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, May 2007

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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