Welcome to another week of Mystery Mondays! I have another review today, then I'm also going to post a question for discussion later on. But now for the review...
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Pub Date: 2008, Simon & Schuster
Format: Hardover, 289 pages
Source/FTC Disclosure: I purchased my copy of this book. I was in no way compensated for this review and my opinions are my own.
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."
Mack's cryptic warning does nothing to deter his sister from taking up the search, despite the angry reaction of her mother, Olivia, and the polite disapprovalof Elliott Wallace, Carolyn's honorary uncle, who is clearly in love with Olivia.
Carolyn's pursuit of the truth about Mack's disappearance swiftly plunges her into a world of unexpected danger and unanswered questions. What is the secret that Gus and Lil Kramer, the superintendents of the building in which Mack was living, have to hide? What do Mack's old roommates, the charismatic club owner Nick DeMarco and the cold and wealthy real estate tycoon Bruce Galbraith, know about Mack's disappearance? Is Nick connected to the disappearance of Leesey Andrews, who had last been seen in his trendy club? Can the police possibly believe that Mack is not only alive, but a serial killer, a shadowy predator of young women? Was Mack also guilty of the brutal murder of his drama teacher and the theft of his taped sessions with her?
Carolyn's passionate search for the truth about her brother — and for her brother himself — leads her into a deadly confrontation with someone close to her whose secret he cannot allow her to reveal.
First off, let me say that there are many reasons why I like Mary Higgins Clark. For one thing, her books are generally very easy to read, with short chapters--as you read, each one tends to change over to a different part of the storyline, keeping the plot moving. Clark is also usually pretty good at making you suspect multiple people but leaving small clues that can only lead to the culprit--these are often subtle and can easily be glossed over. I've actually tried to pay closer attention to everything she writes now--once in awhile I'm successful at figuring out who commited the crime, but more often than not I end up shocked. Something else I like? The fact that her stories are generally pretty clean--minimal foul language and no gratuitous sex.
All that being said, this book just didn't quite do it for me. Suprisingly, there were several things that bothered me about this story (and I think it's because I'm starting to read things from a more critical point of view). The main character, Carolyn, seriously annoyed me. She really had no business trying to solve this mystery on her own and made things a lot worse because of her involvement. The other thing that bugged me, is while I suspected one of the characters as being an accomplice (and it ended up being true), there was no part of me that guessed the real reason why. This time I don't think Clark was as good at dropping her clues as she usually is. Normally I'll find myself thinking, "oh yeah!" when I read how everything was wrapped up, but this time I just thought, "huh???" There were some good side stories, but the character development was off and ultimately I was pretty disappointed when I finished, so I can't really say that I recommend it. (Rather disappointing for a Mystery Monday review, if I do say so myself.)