Pretend You Don't See Her

( 67 )


Mary Higgins Clark sends chills down readers' spines with the story of Lacey Farrell, a rising star on the Manhattan real estate scene. One day, while showing a luxurious skyline co-op, Lacey is witness to a murder -- and to the dying words of the victim.... The dying woman is convinced that the attacker was after her dead daughter's journal -- which Lacey gives to the police, but not before making a copy for herself. It's an impulse that later proves nearly fatal.

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Mary Higgins Clark sends chills down readers' spines with the story of Lacey Farrell, a rising star on the Manhattan real estate scene. One day, while showing a luxurious skyline co-op, Lacey is witness to a murder -- and to the dying words of the victim.... The dying woman is convinced that the attacker was after her dead daughter's journal -- which Lacey gives to the police, but not before making a copy for herself. It's an impulse that later proves nearly fatal.

Placed in the witness protection program and sent to live in the Minneapolis area, Lacey must assume a fake identity, at least until the killer can be brought to trial. There she meets Tom Lynch, a radio talk-show host whom she tentatively begins to date -- until the strain of deception makes her break it off. Then she discovers the killer has traced her to Minneapolis. Armed with nothing more than her own courage and clues from the journal, Lacey heads back to New York, determined to uncover who's behind the deaths of the two women -- before she's the next casualty.

The Queen of Suspense continues her glorious reign with her 13th novel, certain to become another jewel in her crown of bestsellers. A young woman assigned to the federal witness protection program realizes that once she has unexpectedly fallen in love she can no longer live a lie. Before she can marry, however, she must go back and reclaim her identity, despite whatever perils may await her. LG Main Selection.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
May 1997

Mary Higgins Clark's 18th thrilling book, Pretend You Don't See Her, revolves around Lacey Farrell, a brilliant young player on the Manhattan real estate scene. Lacey is hired to help Isabelle Waring, mother of singer and actress Heather Landi, who was recently killed in an apparent car accident, sell Heather's luxurious skyline apartment. Isabelle doesn't believe that Heather's death was an accident, however, and her suspicions prove correct when she becomes the murderer's next victim.

Lacey takes a wealthy lawyer, Curtis Caldwell, to see the apartment, and he makes an immediate offer. But when Lacey returns to the apartment later that day, she accidentally becomes the witness to Isabelle's murder — and to Caldwell, a professional hit man using an assumed name, fleeing the scene. Lacey also hears Isabelle's dying wish — to make sure that no one but Heather's father, restaurateur Jimmy Landi, gets some pages removed from Heather's journal — and promises to comply. She does not give the pages to the police but does make a copy for herself before turning the originals over to Jimmy Landi, an impetuous act that proves almost fatal.

With a contract out on Lacey's life, she must go into the federal witness protection program, giving up her life, her job, and her very identity. But the killer traces her into her new life, and Lacey's only way out is to face down the threat against her by following the clues in Heather's journal. She finds herself caught in a race against time, struggling to figure out who murdered the two women beforeshebecomes the next victim.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
There's no arguing with success, and no doubt Clark's eager following will lap up her 13th romantic suspense novel as eagerly as ever. All the elements are in place: an appealing, plucky working-girl heroine placed in instant danger; a virile, adoring would-be lover kept at arm's length until the curtain; a cute moppet also in danger; a doting but somewhat foolish mother; a dead dad whose spirit is ever-present in times of crisis. What's lacking is any real suspense, or, in this case, a satisfactory windup. Lacey Farrell is a comely young real estate saleswoman in Manhattan who has a client, Isabelle Waring, murdered virtually before her eyes, then has to spend most of the book on the run from the killer, whom only she can identify. In the process she goes into the witness protection program, and the most interesting part of the novel Clark is always good on research is the details on how this works. The plot however, involving Isabelle's certainty that her daughter was murdered, the suspicion that falls on the wealthy man who owns Lacey's real estate firm and his scapegrace son, and a hit man who remorselessly pursues Laceyis perfunctory in the extreme. When the real villain is finally unmaskedin a few throwaway sentences the reader has almost forgotten he existed and is given no clue as to how and why he did all his evil deeds. Maybe 13 isn't Clark's lucky number. Literary Guild main selection
Library Journal
Clark's lucky 13th novel shows that falling in love is hard work when you're in the federal witness protection program.
Kirkus Reviews
Just in time for Mother's Day, a fresh bouquet of imperiled female virtue from ever-reliable Clark, who ought to take out a patent.

Planning to sell her late daughter Heather Landi's East Side apartment, ex-beauty queen Isabelle Waring makes an appointment with realtor Lacey Farrell to check the place out. But when Isabelle finds and reads Heather's journal in the apartment, she refuses to sell to the promising client Lacey's got waiting in the next room. Too late: The client, who's really a hit man looking for the journal, shoots Isabelle, who only has time before she dies to beg Lacey to read the journal and turn it over to Heather's father, gruff restaurateur Jimmy Landi. So Lacey makes a copy of the journal for Jimmy, then reads it herself before taking it to the police. And when she finally does turn the journal over to the authorities, it doesn't do any good; first the original journal and then some crucial pages from Jimmy's copy disappear from police custody. By this time, the police are treating Lacey like some kind of criminal even as the hit man begins stalking her. The US Attorney relocates Lacey to Minneapolis under the Witness Protection Program, but things are no better there: Lacey's lonely, her mother back in New York keeps blurting out hints of Lacey's location to exactly the plausible male intimates veteran Clark-watchers will duly have noted as the most likely threats to Lacey's safety, and the hit man hasn't lost interest either.

Innocence unprotected, cops who actually sound like cops, and an implacable enemy with the momentum of a Metroliner. Even if the final revelation of the hit man's employer is weightless, Clark, by concentrating on what she does best—heavy-breathing menace as the hit man's footfalls echo ever louder—has produced her most successful tale since "Remember Me" (1994)—six books ago.

From the Publisher
Katy Kelly USA Today Pretend You Don't See Her should come with a warning. Start it in the evening and you'll be reading way late into the night.... This one is well worth the lost sleep.

The New York Times Book Review The built-in risks, mystery, and strain of living under cover provide just the right foundation for the many-layered plot of Mary Higgins Clark's latest novel...."

Ruth Coughlin Detroit News The chase is on, with the story line zipping along at comet speed.... What's amazing is how expertly Clark manages to keep us hooked time after time, and even better, create new plots, each as fresh as a mountain stream.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671557157
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
  • Publication date: 4/1/1997
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged, 3 CDs, 3 hrs.
  • Pages: 3
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.10 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Mary Higgins Clark

Mary Higgins Clark, #1 international and New York Times bestselling author, has written thirty-three suspense novels; three collections of short stories; a historical novel, Mount Vernon Love Story; two children’s books, including The Magical Christmas Horse; and a memoir, Kitchen Privileges. She is also the coauthor with Carol Higgins Clark of five holiday suspense novels. Her books have sold more than 100 million copies in the United States alone.

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    1. Hometown:
      Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 24, 1929
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

From Chapter 45 After she had given the manager at the Edina Health Club the completed registration forms and her check, Lacey went directly to the squash court and began hitting balls against the wall. She quickly realized that the combination of the previous sleepless night and an earlier long jog had left her exhausted. She kept missing easy returns, and then she fell, badly wrenching her ankle, all in an attempt to connect with a ball she had no chance of hitting. It was typical of her life right now.

Disgusted with herself and close to tears, she limped off the court and collected her coat and tote bag from the locker.

The door to the manager's office was partially open. Inside, a young couple was sitting at the manager's desk, and a grayhaired man was waiting to speak to her.

Lacey could feel her ankle swelling already. For a moment she paused in front of the open door, debating whether to ask the manager if the club kept elastic bandages in its medical supply kit. Then she decided to go straight home and put ice on her ankle instead.

As much as she had wanted to get out of her apartment this morning, Lacey realized that all she wanted now was to be back inside, with the door locked and bolted.

Earlier that morning, when Lacey had gone out jogging, a smattering of clouds dotted the sky. Now they were filling it, moving so close together as to be seamless. Driving from Edina to Minneapolis, Lacey could tell that a heavy snowfall was imminent.

She had a designated parking spot behind her apartment building. She pulled into the space and turned off the engine. She sat for a moment in the silence. Her life was a total mess. Here she was, hundreds of miles away from her family, living an existence that could not be called a life, alone and lonely. She was trapped in a lie, having to pretend to be someone other than herself -- and why? Why? Just because she had been a witness to a crime. Sometimes she wished the killer had seen her there in the closet. She had no desire to die, but it would have been easier than living this way, she thought desperately. I've got to do something about this.

She opened the door and got out of the car, careful to favor her throbbing right ankle. As she turned to lock the door, she felt a hand on her shoulder.

It was the same emotion she experienced in the nightmare, life moving in slow motion as she tried to scream, but no sound would come. She lunged forward, trying to break away, then gasped and stumbled as a flash of pain like the sting of a hot branding iron seared her ankle.

An arm went around her, steadying her. A familiar voice said contritely, "Alice, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to frighten you. Forgive me.

It was Tom Lynch.

Limp with relief, Lacey sagged against him. "Oh Tom...Oh God...I...I'm all right, I just...I guess you startled me."

She started to cry. It was so good to feel herself firmly encircled and protected by his arm. She stood there for several moments, not moving, feeling a sense of relief wash over her. Then she straightened and turned to face him. She couldn't do this‹ not to him, not to herself. "I'm sorry you bothered to come, Tom. I'm going upstairs," she said, making herself breathe normally, wiping away the tears.

"I'm coming with you," he told her. We have to talk."

"We have nothing to talk about."

"Oh but we do," he said. "Starting with the fact that your father is looking all over Minneapolis for you because your mother is dying and wants to make up with you."

"" Lacey's lips felt rubbery. Her throat constricted to the point where she could barely force the words out of her mouth.

"I'm talking about the fact that Ruth Wilcox told me yesterday afternoon some guy had showed up at the gym with your picture, looking for you and claiming to be your father."

He's in Minneapolis! Lacey thought. He's going to find me!!

"Alice, look at me! Is it true? Was that your father looking for you?"

She shook her head, desperate now to be free of him. "Tom, please. Go away."

"I will not go away." He cupped her face in his hands, forcing her to look up at him.

Once again, Jack Farrell's voice echoed in Lacey's mind: You put my face in front of the one you want, he said. Admit it.

I admit it, she thought, looking up at the firm line of Tom's jaw, the way his forehead was creased with concern for her -- the expression in his eyes.

The look you give someone special. Well, I won't let anything happen to you because of it, she promised.

If Isabelle Waring's murderer had been able to coax my address out of Ruth Wilcox at Twin Cities Gym, I probably wouldn't be alive right now she thought. So far, so good. But where else was he showing her picture?

"Alice, I know you're in trouble, and no matter what it is, I'll stand by you. But I can't be in the dark anymore," Tom's voice urged. "Can't you understand that?"

She looked at him. It was such a strange sensation, seeing this man in front of her who clearly had special feelings for her -- love? Maybe And he was exactly the person she had hoped to meet someday. But not now! Not here! Not in this situation. I cannot do this to him, she thought.

A car drove into the parking area. Lacey's instinct was to pull Tom down, to hide with him behind her car. I have to get away, she thought. And I have to get Tom away from me.

As the approaching car came into full view she saw that the driver was a woman whom she recognized as living in the building.

But who would be driving the next car to come into the parking lot? she wondered angrily. It could be him.

The first flakes of snow were beginning to fall.

"Tom, please go," she begged. "1 have to call home and talk to my mother."

"Then that story is true."

She nodded, careful not to look at him. "1 have to talk to her. I have to straighten some things out. Can I phone you later?" Finally she looked up.

His eyes, troubled and questioning, lingered on her face.

"Alice, you will call me?"

"I swear I will."

"If I can help you, you know --"

"Not now, you can't," she said, interrupting him.

"Will you honestly tell me just one thing?"

"Of course.""Is there another man in your life?"

She looked into his eyes. "No, there is not."

He nodded. "That's all I need to know."

Another car was driving into the parking area. Get away from me, her mind screamed. "Tom, I have to call home."

"At least let me walk you to the door," he responded, taking her arm. After they had gone a few steps, he stopped. "You're limping."

"It's nothing. I stumbled over my own feet." Lacey prayed her face wasn't showing the pain she felt when she walked.

Tom opened the door to the lobby for her. 'When will I hear from you?"

"In an hour or so." She looked at him again, forcing a smile.

His lips touched her cheek. "1 m worried about you. I'm worried for you." He clasped her hands and looked intently into her eyes. "But I'll be waiting for your call. You've given me some great news. And a whole new hope."

Lacey waited in the lobby until she saw his dark blue BMW drive away. Then she rushed to the elevator.

She did not wait to take off her coat before she called the health club. The gratingly cheerful voice of the manager answered. "Edina Health Club. Hold on, please.'

A minute, then a second minute went by. Damn her, Lacey thought, slamming her hand down to break the connection.

It was Saturday. There was a chance her mother was home. For the first time in months Lacey dialed the familiar number directly.

Her mother picked up on the first ring.

Lacey knew she could not waste time. "Mom, who did you tell I was here?"

"Lacey? I didn't tell a soul. Why? " Her mother's voice went up in alarm.

Didn't deliberately tell a soul, Lacey thought. "Mom, that dinner last night. Who all was there?"

"Alex and Kit and lay and Jimmy Landi and his partner, Steve Abbott, and I. Why?"

"Did you say anything about me'"

"Nothing significant. Only that you'd joined a new health club with a squash court. That was all right, wasn't it?"

My God, Lacey thought.

"Lacey, Mr. Landi wants very much to talk to you. He asked me to find out if you knew whether the last few pages of his daughter's journal were written on unlined paper."

"Why does he want to know that? I gave him a complete copy."

"Because he said that if they were, somebody stole those pages from the copy while it was at the police station, and they stole the whole original copy. Lacey, are you telling me that whoever tried to kill you knows you're in Minneapolis?"

"Mom, I can't talk. I'll call you later."

Lacey hung up. Once again she tried the health club. She did not give the manager a chance to put her on hold this time. "This is Alice Carroll," she interrupted. "Don't‹"

"Oh, Alice." The manager's voice became solicitous. "Your dad came in looking for you. I took him to the squash court. I thought you were still there. I didn't see you leave. Someone told us you gave your ankle a nasty wrench. Your dad was so worried.

I gave him your address. That was all right, wasn't it? He left just a couple of minutes ago."

Lacey stopped only long enough to jam the copy of Heather Landi's journal into her tote bag before she half ran, half hopped to the car and headed for the airport. A sharp wind slapped snow against the windshield. Hopefully he won't figure out right away that I've left, she told herself. ['11 have a little time.

There was a plane leaving for Chicago twelve minutes after she reached the ticket counter. She managed to get on it just before the gates closed.

Then she sat in the plane for three hours on the runway, while they waited for clearance to take off.

Copyright © 1997 by Mary Higgins Clark

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First Chapter

"It's about time," she told Rick Parker as he delivered a mug of black coffee to her desk. "I haven't had a decent sale since June. Everybody I had on the hook took off for the Hamptons or the Cape, but thank God they're all drifting back into town now. I enjoyed my month off, too, but now it's time to get back to work."

She reached for the coffee. "Thanks. It's nice to have the son and heir wait on me."

"No problem. You look great, Lacey."

Lacey tried to ignore the expression on Rick's face. She always felt as though he were undressing her with his eyes. Spoiled, handsome, and the possessor of a phony charm that he turned on at will, he made her distinctly uncomfortable. Lacey heartily wished his father hadn't moved him from the West Side office. She didn't want her job jeopardized, but lately keeping him at arm's length was becoming a balancing act.

Her phone rang, and she grabbed for it with relief. Saved by the bell, she thought. "Lacey Farrell," she said.

"Miss Farrell, this is Isabelle Waring. I met you when you sold a co-op in my building last spring."

A live one, Lacey thought. Instinctively she guessed that Mrs. Waring was putting her apartment on the market.

Lacey's mind went into its search-and-retrieve mode. She'd sold two apartments in May on East Seventieth, one an estate sale where she hadn't spoken to anyone except the building manager, the second a co-op just off Fifth Avenue. That would be the Norstrum apartment, and she vaguely remembered chatting with an attractive fiftyish redhead in the elevator, who had asked for her business card.

Crossing her fingers, she said, "The Norstrum duplex? We met on the elevator?"

Mrs. Waring sounded pleased. "Exactly! I'm putting my daughter's apartment on the market, and if it's convenient I'd like you to handle it for me."

"It would be very convenient, Mrs. Waring."

Lacey made an appointment with her for the following morning, hung up, and turned to Rick. "What luck! Three East Seventieth. That's a great building," she said.

"Three East Seventieth. What apartment?" he asked quickly.

"Ten B. Do you know that one by any chance?"

"Why would I know it?" he snapped. "Especially since my father, in his wisdom, kept me working the West Side for five years."

It seemed to Lacey that Rick was making a visible effort to be pleasant when he added, "From what little I heard on this end, someone met you, liked you, and wants to dump an exclusive in your lap. I always told you what my grandfather preached about this business, Lacey: You're blessed if people remember YOU."

"Maybe, although I'm not sure it's necessarily a blessing," Lacey said, hoping her slightly negative reaction would end their conversation. She hoped also that Rick would soon come to think of her as just another employee in the family empire.

He shrugged, then made his way to his own office, which overlooked East Sixty-second Street. Lacey's windows faced Madison Avenue. She reveled in the sight of the constant traffic, the hordes of tourists, the well-heeled Madison Avenue types drifting in and out of the designer boutiques.

"Some of us are born New Yorkers," she would explain to the sometimes apprehensive wives of executives being transferred to Manhattan. "Others come here reluctantly, and before they know it, they discover that for all its problems, it's still the best place in the world to live."

Then if questioned, she would explain: "I was raised in Manhattan, and except for being away at college, I've always lived here. It's my home, my town."

Her father, Jack Farrell, had felt that way about the city. From the time she was little, they had explored New York City together. "We're pals, Lace," he would say. "You're like me, a city slicker. Now your mother, God love her, yearns to join the flight to the suburbs. It's to her credit that she sticks it out here, knowing I'd wither on the vine there."

Lacey had inherited not only Jack's love of this city, but his Irish coloring as well -- fair skin, blue-green eyes, and dark brown hair. Her sister Kit shared their mother's English heritage -- china-blue eyes, and hair the shade of winter wheat.

A musician, Jack Farrell had worked in the theater, usually in the pit orchestra, although sometimes playing in clubs and the occasional concert. Growing up, there wasn't a Broadway musical whose songs Lacey couldn't sing along with her dad. His sudden death just as she had finished college was still a shock. In fact, she wondered if she ever would get over it. Sometimes, when she was in the theater district, she still found herself expecting to run into him.

After the funeral, her mother had said with wry sadness, "Just as your dad predicted, I'm not staying in the city." A pediatric nurse, she bought a condo in New Jersey. She wanted to be near Lacey's sister Kit and her family. Once there, she'd taken a job with a local hospital.

Fresh out of college, Lacey had found a small apartment on East End Avenue and a job at Parker and Parker Realtors. Now, eight years later, she was one of their top agents.

Humming, she pulled out the file on 3 East Seventieth and began to study it. I sold the second-floor duplex, she thought. Nice-sized rooms. High ceilings. Kitchen needed modernizing. Now to find out something about Mrs. Waring's place.

Whenever possible, Lacey liked to do her homework on a prospective listing. To that end, she'd learned that it could help tremendously to become familiar with the people who worked in the various buildings Parker and Parker handled. It was fortunate now that she was good friends with Tim Powers, the superintendent of 3 East Seventieth. She called him, listened for a good twenty minutes to the rundown of his summer, ruefully reminding herself that Tim had always been blessed with the gift of gab, and finally worked the conversation around to the Waring apartment.

According to Tim, Isabelle Waring was the mother of Heather Landi, a young singer and actress who had just begun to make her name in the theater. The daughter as well of famed restaurateur Jimmy Landi, Heather had died early last winter, killed when her car plunged down an embankment as she was driving home from a weekend of skiing in Vermont. The apartment had belonged to Heather, and now, her mother was apparently selling it.

"Mrs. Waring can't believe Heather's death was an accident," Tim said.

When she finally got off the phone, Lacey sat for a long moment, remembering that she had seen Heather Landi last year in a very successful off-Broadway musical. In fact, she remembered her in particular.

She had it all, Lacey thought -- beauty, stage presence, and that marvelous soprano voice. A "Ten," as Dad would have said. No wonder her mother is in denial.

Lacey shivered, then rose to turn down the air conditioner.

On Tuesday morning, Isabelle Waring walked through her daughter's apartment, studying it as if with the critical eye of a realtor. She was glad that she had kept Lacey Farrell's business card. Jimmy, her ex-husband, Heather's father, had demanded she put the apartment on the market, and in fairness to him, he had given her plenty of time.

The day she met Lacey Farrell in the elevator, she had taken an instant liking to the young woman, who had reminded her of Heather.

Admittedly, Lacey didn't look like Heather. Heather had had short, curly, light brown hair with golden highlights, and hazel eyes. She had been small, barely five feet four, with a soft, curving body. She called herself the house midget. Lacey, on the other hand, was taller, slimmer, had blue-green eyes, and darker, longer, straighter hair, swinging down to her shoulders, but there was something in her smile and manner that brought back a very positive memory of Heather.

Isabelle looked around her. She realized that not everyone would care for the birch paneling and splashy marble foyer tiles Heather had loved, but those could easily be changed, the renovated kitchen and baths, however, were strong selling points.

After months of brief trips to New York from Cleveland, and making stabs at going through the apartment's five huge closets and the many drawers, and after repeatedly meeting with Heather's friends, Isabelle knew it had to be over. She had to put an end to this searching for reasons and get on with her life.

The fact remained, however, that she just didn't believe Heather's death had been an accident. She knew her daughter; she simply would not have been foolish enough to start driving home from Stowe in a snowstorm, especially so late at night. The medical examiner had been satisfied, however. And Jimmy was satisfied, because Isabelle knew that if he hadn't been, he'd have torn up all of Manhattan looking for answers.

At the last of their infrequent lunches, he had again tried to persuade Isabelle to let it rest, and to get on with her own life. He reasoned that Heather probably couldn't sleep that night, had been worried because there was a heavy snow warning, and knew she had to be back in time for a rehearsal the next day. He simply refused to see anything suspicious or sinister in her death.

Isabelle, though, just couldn't accept it. She had told him about a troubling phone conversation she had had with their daughter just before her death. "Jimmy, Heather wasn't herself when I spoke to her on the phone. She was worried about something. Terribly worried. I could hear it in her voice."

The lunch had ended when Jimmy, in complete exasperation, had burst out, "Isabelle, get off it! Stop, please! This whole thing is tough enough without you going on like this, constantly rehashing everything, putting all her friends through the third degree. Please, let our daughter rest in peace."

Remembering his words, Isabelle shook her head. Jimmy Landi had loved Heather more than anything in the world. And next to her, he loved power, she thought bitterly -- it's what had ended their marriage. His famous restaurant, his investments, now his Atlantic City hotel and casino. No room for me ever, Isabelle thought. Maybe if he had taken on a partner years ago, the way he has Steve Abbott now, our marriage wouldn't have failed. She realized she had been walking through rooms she wasn't really seeing, so she stopped at a window overlooking Fifth Avenue.

New York is especially beautiful in September, she mused, observing the joggers on the paths that threaded through Central Park, the nannies pushing strollers, the elderly sunning themselves on park benches. I used to take Heather's baby carriage over to the park on days like this, she remembered. It took ten years and three miscarriages before I had her, but she was worth all the heartbreak. She was such a special baby. People were always stopping to took at her and admire her. And she knew it, of course. She loved to sit up and take everything in. She was so smart, so observant, so talented, so trusting...

Why did you throw it away, Heather? Isabelle asked her self once more the questions that she had agonized over since her daughter's death. After that accident when you were a child -- when you saw that car skid off the road and crash -- you were always terrified of icy roads. You even talked of moving to California just to avoid winter weather. Why then would you have driven over a snowy mountain at two in the morning? You were only twenty-four years old; you had so much to live for. What happened that night? What made you take that drive? Or who made you?

The buzzing of the intercom jolted Isabelle back from the smothering pangs of hopeless regret. It was the doorman announcing that Miss Farrell was here for her ten o'clock appointment.

Lacey was not prepared for Isabelle Waring's effusive, if nervous, greeting. "Good heavens, you look younger than I remembered," she said. "How old are you? Thirty? My daughter would have been twenty-five next week, you know. She lived in this apartment. It was hers. Her father bought it for her. Terrible reversal, don't you think? The natural order of life is that I'd go first and someday she'd sort through my things."

"I have two nephews and a niece," Lacey told her. "I can't imagine anything happening to any of them, so I think I understand something of what you are going through."

Isabelle followed her, as with a practiced eye Lacey made notes on the dimensions of the rooms. The first floor consisted of a foyer, large living and dining rooms, a small library, a kitchen, and a powder room. The second floor, reached by a winding staircase, had a master suite -- a sitting room, dressing room, bedroom and bath.

"It was a lot of space for a young woman," Isabelle explained. "Heather's father bought it for her, you see. He couldn't do enough for her. But it never spoiled her. In fact, when she came to New York to live after college, she wanted to rent a little apartment on the West Side. Jimmy hit the ceiling. He wanted her in a building with a doorman. He wanted her to be safe. Now he wants me to sell the apartment and keep the money. He says Heather would have wanted me to have it. He says I have to stop grieving and go on. It's just that it's still so hard to let it go, though...I'm trying, but I'm not sure I can..." Her eyes filled with tears.

Lacey asked the question she needed to have answered: "Are you sure you want to sell?"

She watched helplessly as the stoic expression on Isabelle Waring's face crumbled and her eyes filled with tears. "I wanted to find out why my daughter died. Why she rushed out of the ski lodge that night. Why she didn't wait and come back with friends the next morning, as she had planned. What changed her mind? I'm sure that somebody knows. I need a reason. I know she was terribly worried about something but wouldn't tell me what it was. I thought I might find an answer here, either in the apartment or from one of her friends. But her father wants me to stop pestering people, and I suppose he's right, that we have to go on, so yes, Lacey, I guess I want to sell."

Lacey covered the woman's hand with her own. "I think Heather would want you to," she said quietly.

That night Lacey made the twenty-five-mile drive to Wyckoff, New Jersey, where her sister Kit and her mother both lived. She hadn't seen them since early August when she had left the city for her month away in the Hamptons. Kit and her husband, Jay, had a summer home on Nantucket, and always urged Lacey to spend her vacation with them instead.

As she crossed the George Washington Bridge, Lacey braced herself for the reproaches she knew would be part of their greeting. "You only spent three days with us," her brother-in-law would be sure to remind her. "What's East Hampton got that Nantucket doesn't?"

For one thing it doesn't have you, Lacey thought, with a slight grin. Her brother-in-law, Jay Taylor, the highly successful owner of a large restaurant supply business, had never been one of Lacey's favorite people, but, as she reminded herself, Kit clearly is crazy about him, and between them they've produced three great kids, so who am I to criticize? If only he wasn't so damn pompous, she thought. Some of his pronouncements sounded like papal bulls.

As she turned onto Route 4, she realized how anxious she was to see the others in her family: her mother, Kit and the kids -- Todd, twelve, Andy, ten, and her special pet, shy four-year-old Bonnie. Thinking about her niece, she realized that all day she hadn't been able to shake thoughts about poor Isabelle Waring, and the things she had said. The woman's pain was so palpable. She had insisted that Lacey stay for coffee and over it had continued to talk about her daughter. "I moved to Cleveland after the divorce. That's where I was raised. Heather was five at that time. Growing up, she was always back and forth between me and her dad. It worked out fine. I remarried. Bill Waring was much older but a very nice man. He's been gone three years now. I was so in hopes Heather would meet the right man, have children, but she was determined to have a career first. Although just before she died I had gotten the sense that maybe she had met someone. I could be wrong, but I thought I could hear it in her voice." Then she had asked, her tone one of motherly concern, "What about you, Lacey? Is there someone special in your life?"

Thinking about that question, Lacey smiled wryly. Not so you'd notice it, she thought. And ever since I hit the magic number thirty, I'm very aware that my biological clock is ticking. Oh well. I love my job, I love my apartment, I love my family and friends. I have a lot of fun. So I have no right to complain. It will happen when it happens.

Her mother answered the door. "Kit's in the kitchen. Jay went to pick up the children," she explained after a warm hug. "And there's someone inside I want you to meet."

Lacey was surprised and somewhat shocked to see that a man she didn't recognize was standing near the massive fireplace in the family room, sipping a drink. Her mother blushingly introduced him as Alex Carbine, explaining that they had known each other years ago and had just met again, through Jay, who had sold him much of the equipment for a new restaurant he'd just opened in the city on West Forty-sixth Street.

Shaking his hand, Lacey assessed the man. About sixty, she thought -- Mom's age. Good, solid-looking guy. And Mom looks all atwitter. What's up? As soon as she could excuse herself she went into the state-of-the-art kitchen where Kit was tossing the salad. "How long has this been going on?" she asked her sister.

Kit, her blond hair pulled back at the nape of her neck, looking, Lacey thought, for all the world like a Martha Stewart ad, grinned. "About a month. He's nice. Jay brought him by for dinner, and Mom was here. Alex is a widower. He's always been in the restaurant business, but this is the first place he's had on his own, I gather. We've been there. He's got a nice setup."

They both jumped at the sound of a door slamming at the front of the house. "Brace yourself," Kit warned. "Jay and the kids are home."

From the time Todd was five, Lacey had started taking him, and later the other children, into Manhattan to teach the city to them the way her father had taught it to her. They called the outings their Jack Farrell days -- days which included anything from Broadway matinees (she had now seen Cats five times) to museums (the Museum of Natural History and its dinosaur bones being easily their favorite). They explored Greenwich Village, took the tram to Roosevelt Island, the ferry to Ellis Island, had lunch at the top of the World Trade Center, and skated at Rockefeller Plaza.

The boys greeted Lacey with their usual exuberance. Bonnie, shy as always, snuggled up to her. "I missed you very much," she confided. Jay told Lacey she was looking very well indeed, adding that the month in East Hampton obviously had been beneficial.

"In fact, I had a ball," Lacey said, delighted to see him wince. Jay had an aversion to slang that bordered on pretension.

At dinner, Todd, who was showing an interest in real estate and his aunt's job, asked Lacey about the market in New York.

"Picking up," she answered. "In fact I took on a promising new listing today." She told them about Isabelle Waring, then noticed that Alex Carbine showed sudden interest. "Do you know her?" Lacey asked.

"No," he said, "but I know Jimmy Landi, and I'd met their daughter, Heather. Beautiful young woman. That was a terrible tragedy. Jay, you've done business with Landi. You must have met Heather too. She was around the restaurant a lot."

Lacey watched in astonishment as her brother-in-law's face turned a dark red.

"No. Never met her," he said, his tone clipped and carrying an edge of anger. "I used to do business with Jimmy Landi. Who's ready for another slice of lamb?"

It was seven o'clock. The bar was crowded, and the dinner crowd was starting to arrive. Jimmy Landi knew he should go downstairs and greet people but he just didn't feel like it. This had been one of the bad days, a depression brought on by a call from Isabelle, evoking the image of Heather trapped and burning to death in the overturned car that haunted him still, long after he had gotten off the phone.

The slanting light from the setting sun flickered through the tall windows of his paneled office in the brownstone on West Fifty-sixth Street, the home of Venezia, the restaurant Jimmy had opened thirty years ago.

He had taken over the space where three successive restaurants had failed. He and Isabelle, newly married, lived in what was then a rental apartment on the second floor. Now he owned the building, and Venezia was one of the most popular places to dine in Manhattan.

Jimmy sat at his massive antique Wells Fargo desk, thinking about the reasons he found it so difficult to go downstairs. It wasn't just the phone call from his ex-wife. The restaurant was decorated with murals, an idea he had copied from his competition, La Côte Basque. They were paintings of Venice, and from the beginning had included scenes in which Heather appeared. When she was two, he had the artist paint her in as a toddler whose face appeared in a window of the Doge's Palace. As a young girl she was seen being serenaded by a gondolier, when she was twenty, she'd been painted in as a young woman strolling across the Bridge of Sighs, a song sheet in her hand.

Jimmy knew that for his own peace of mind he would have to have her painted out of the murals, but just as Isabelle had not been able to let go of the idea that Heather's death must be someone else's fault, he could not let go of the constant need for his daughter's presence, the sense of her eyes watching him as he moved through the dining room, of her being with him there, every day.

He was a swarthy man of sixty-seven, whose hair was still naturally dark, and whose brooding eyes under thick unruly brows gave his face a permanently cynical expression. Of medium height, his solid, muscular body gave the impression of animal strength. He was aware that his detractors joked that the custom-tailored suits he wore were wasted on him, that try as he might, he still looked like a day laborer. He almost smiled, remembering how indignant Heather had been the first time she had heard that remark.

I told her not to worry, Jimmy thought, smiling to himself. I told her that I could buy and sell the lot of them, and that's all that counts.

He shook his head, remembering. Now more than ever, he knew it wasn't really all that counted, but it still gave him a reason to get up in the morning. He had gotten through the last months by concentrating on the casino and hotel he was building in Atlantic City. "Donald Trump, move over," Heather had said when he'd showed her the model. "How about calling it Heather's Place, and I'll perform there, yours exclusively, Baba?"

She had picked up the affectionate nickname for father on a trip to Italy when she was ten. After that she never called him Daddy again.

Jimmy remembered his answer. "I'd give you star billing in a minute -- you know that. But you better check with Steve. He's got big bucks in Atlantic City too, and I'm leaving a lot of the decisions to him. But anyway, how about forgetting this career stuff and getting married and giving me some grandchildren?"

Heather had laughed. "Oh, Baba, give me a couple of years. I'm having too much fun."

He sighed, remembering her laugh. Now there wouldn't be any grandchildren, ever, he thought -- not a girl with golden-brown hair and hazel eyes, nor a boy who might someday grow up to take over this place.

A tap at the door yanked Jimmy back to the present.

"Come in, Steve," he said.

Thank God I have Steve Abbott, he thought. Twenty-five years ago the handsome, blond Cornell dropout had knocked on the door of the restaurant before it was open. "I want to work for you, Mr. Landi," he had announced. "I can learn more from you than in any college course."

Jimmy had been both amused and annoyed. He mentally sized up the young man. Fresh, know-it-all kid, he had decided. "You want to work for me?" he had asked, then pointed to the kitchen. "Well, that's where I started."

That was a good day for me, Jimmy thought. He might have looked like a spoiled preppie, but he was an Irish kid whose mother worked as a waitress to raise him, and he had proved that he had much of the same drive. I thought then that he was a dope to give up his scholarship but I was wrong. He was born for this business.

Steve Abbott pushed open the door and turned on the nearest light as he entered the room. "Why so dark? Having a seance, Jimmy?"

Landi looked up with a wry smile, noting the compassion in the younger man's eyes. "Woolgathering, I guess."

"The mayor just came in with a party of four."

Jimmy shoved back his chair and stood up. "No one told me he had a reservation."

"He didn't. Hizzonor couldn't resist our hot dogs, I suppose..." In long strides, Abbott crossed the room and put his hand on Landi's shoulder. "A rough day, I can tell."

"Yeah," Jimmy said. "Isabelle called this morning to say the realtor was in about Heather's apartment and thinks it will sell fast. Of course, every time she gets me on the phone, she has to go through it all again, how she can't believe Heather would ever get in a car, to drive home on icy roads. That she doesn't believe her death was an accident. She can't let go of it. Drives me crazy."

His unfocused eyes stared past Abbott. "When I met Isabelle, she was a knockout, believe it or not. A beauty queen from Cleveland. Engaged to be married. I pulled the rock that guy had given her off her finger and tossed it out the car window." He chuckled. "I had to take out a loan to pay the other guy for his ring, but I got the girl. Isabelle married me."

Abbott knew the story and understood why Jimmy had been thinking about it. "Maybe the marriage didn't last, but you got Heather out of the deal."

"Forgive me, Steve. Sometimes I feel like a very old man, repeating myself. You've heard it all before. Isabelle never liked New York, or this life. She should never have left Cleveland."

"But she did, and you met her. Come on, Jimmy, the mayor's waiting."

Copyright © 1997 by Mary Higgins Clark

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Interviews & Essays

On Friday, May 23rd, welcomed Mary Higgins Clark to discuss PRETEND YOU DON'T SEE HER.

Question: How do you go about writing your books? Do you start out with the end in mind, or does it all come as you write? Have you thought about writing a book set in this part of the world?

Mary Higgins Clark: I have just come back from India, and I actually use scenes from it in a novelette I'm writing. You're able to tell the plot in one sentence before I start writing. I always know who did it. And I'm aiming -- it's like shooting an arrow at a specific goal -- but things happen along the way that I didn't know when I started, but I always know where I'm going.

Question: Do you like the books your daughter likes? Do you have the same tastes when it comes to writing?

Mary Higgins Clark: I think pretty much in the same field we enjoy the same kind of books. I'm an eclectic reader, and so is Carol. I just finished ANGELA'S ASHES, and I thought it was wonderful. I enjoy Maeve Binchy and always look forward to reading her books. I'm reading Katherine Graham right now. I just finished Mario Puzo's THE LAST DON, which I loved. And that's four examples. I love Anne Tyler -- she's another one who's wonderful.

Question: Hi, Ms. Clark. Do you have a favorite book you've written? I got hooked on you when I read WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN? back in the mid-'80s.

Mary Higgins Clark: No, that's like asking who's your favorite child. They are all equally favored in my sight.

Question: Hi, Mary! It's wonderful to be able to tell you this -- I loved MOONLIGHT BECOMES YOU! Where did you find out about the tradition of attaching a funeral bell to someone's casket? That detail was quite interesting and creepy!

Mary Higgins Clark: Yes, I thought it was wonderfully creepy too. And I read an item about it and knew that was going to be part of a book. I don't know where I read it.

Question: Do you create full character profiles for your books prior to writing them? I can see doing it for a book that will be a series, but what about individual ones? Also, how long does it generally take to get to the point where you are ready to write? Thanks!

Mary Higgins Clark: About a month after I finish a book, I start getting itchy fingers. And I have to know my main characters very well. I do a biography on them, where they went to school, what they look like, what their family is or was -- and of course I have to know who the killer or murderer is and why -- and other characters spring from them in the plot.

Question: Why does "The Anastasia Syndrome" have an unhappy ending when all your other stories end happily? Where did you get your inspiration from for that short story?

Mary Higgins Clark: I didn't want it to have an unhappy ending. I didn't plan it that way, but it became inevitable, and I had always been so interested in whether the woman who called herself Anastasia was a real or a phony.

Question: Did you find it hard to find time to write and raise your children? I've always dreamed of writing, but I am having trouble really doing it while taking care of my kids. Any advice?

Mary Higgins Clark: Yes, the most deadly words for a potential writer are "as soon as." The writers who become professional are compelled to write. They will get up earlier and go to bed later, but they will find time to write without sacrificing the interests of the children.

Question: Once you pick a name, have you ever found halfway through or even well into the book that the name isn't right for your character?

Mary Higgins Clark: Never for the main character, but I'm sometimes shocked to realize the name for a minor character is one I used six books ago, and then I have to change it.

Question: Do you ever feel tempted to bring certain favorite characters back in other books?

Mary Higgins Clark: I do that with two sets of characters: Elvira and Willy and Henry and Sunday. But Elvira had been in WEEP NO MORE, MY LADY, and then I liked her so much I decided to continue to write about her. Henry and Sunday were created for a short story, and my publisher asked me to write a series of stories about them.

Question: What did you do before you started writing?

Mary Higgins Clark: I was a secretary, a Pan American stewardess, and then got married at 21. And then said, "I have to learn how to write," and I started to take writing courses. It's not enough to have the talent for writing; you have to understand the craft.

Question: Do you usually only write one draft of a book or do you have to go through several versions?

Mary Higgins Clark: I revise as I go along. I revise and revise and revise.

Question: As a woman, do you think it would be difficult to write about a male protagonist?

Mary Higgins Clark: No, many women do. P. D. James, for example. Ruth Rendell says that you should not be able to tell if a man or a woman has written a book, and you should be able to handle one sex as well as the other.

Question: Do you have any advice for writers just starting out? Did you have trouble shopping WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN? around?

Mary Higgins Clark: I had an agent by then because of the short stories I had sold. It's good if you can get an agent, because so many publishers will not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Question: Did you teach Carol how to write? Do you feel competition from her?

Mary Higgins Clark: I'm delighted that Carol does so well. I'm always surprised that a mother and daughter would feel competitive. If a doctor's son decides to be a doctor, everyone thinks it's wonderful. You cannot teach anyone to write. You can teach from the craft, but the talents of writing have to be there.

Question: Did you do a lot of research on multiple personality disorder when you wrote ALL AROUND THE TOWN? How did you do the research?

Mary Higgins Clark: I read all the autobiographies I could find about multiple personality. I did a great deal of research. I researched the clinical end of it, and went to the MPD in Denver and consulted the art therapist, the journal therapist, and the head doctor.

Question: Do you mind that some people consider your books to be romance?

Mary Higgins Clark: I'm surprised that they're called romance. There's always a touch of romance in them, but they're suspense stories. They're not what I would call romance or even romantic suspense.

Question: How long does it take to write each book? Do you ever suffer from writer's block? What do you do to get past it?

Mary Higgins Clark: Each book takes about a year now. The first one took three years. The next bunch took two years. Now it's a year. A writer once asked that said, "What's writer's block? Did you ever ask a plumber to fix a leaky sink and have him say, 'I have plumber's block'? You stay with it until you find out why it isn't working."

Question: Have you ever finished or almost finished a book and then decided you weren't happy with it? If so, how do you deal with it?

Mary Higgins Clark: No, I've never gone that far. The book that became REMEMBER ME I started twice in 20 years and put it aside early on because I didn't know how to tell the story. But I put it down after two chapters, not when it was almost finished.

Question: Has anyone ever told you that your writing reminds them of Phyllis Whitney? Though I think your plots are much more intricate and interesting. I anticipate each book you write. What is after PRETEND YOU DON'T SEE HER?

Mary Higgins Clark: Phyllis and I both write the same kind of suspense. And my next book is called YOU BELONG TO ME. Its theme is excessive jealousy.

Question: Which of your heroines would you most like to be friends with?

Mary Higgins Clark: I am friends with all of them, and while I'm working with them, they're my best friends.

Question: Are the mystery plots in your books ever based on true stories, or do you make them all up?

Mary Higgins Clark: I will often pick something out of the newspaper that intrigues me and turn the basis into fiction. For example, I read of three court cases where the defense was "I'm a multiple-personality case," and that's what started the book ALL AROUND THE TOWN.

Question: Which of your books would make the best movie? Have you been offered any deals from Hollywood?

Mary Higgins Clark: There have been two feature films and seven television movies made. There is one being shot starting May 25th of LET ME CALL YOU SWEETHEART. WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN? and A STRANGER IS WATCHING were feature films.

Question: For WHILE THE PRETTY ONE SLEEPS, where did you do most of your research for the fashion industry?

Mary Higgins Clark: My mother had been a bridal buyer before she was married. I grew up loving fashion.

Question: Did you always want to be a writer? Did you just decide one day to sit down and write a mystery novel, or were you writing before WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?

Mary Higgins Clark: I always was a writer. I was writing poetry as soon as I could hold a pencil. And I had sold short stories and one biographical novel about George Washington, ASPIRE TO THE HEAVENS, that no one had read, before I did WHERE ARE THE CHILDREN?

Question: Do you find your characters wind up with some traits of friends and family? Or that because of the friend or family member an idea for a specific character is born?

Mary Higgins Clark: You always do a composite picture when you create a character. And in THE CRADLE WILL FALL, my daughter was a young prosecutor at the time. The book was entirely fiction, but I thought, How would she react in this circumstance, what would she say? Same thing in A CRY IN THE NIGHT, with my daughter: What would she say, what would she do in this circumstance?

Question: When you create a persona for characters, how heavily do you research the profession you are giving them? Is creating characters easy for you? Do you ever struggle? And, does writing novels get easier the longer you do it?

Mary Higgins Clark: Writing novels does not get easier. The first part is very difficult. Then the characters take over, and that's when writing is fun. Then when the deadline is approaching and you're working around the clock, you wonder why you didn't take up bird-watching. I don't struggle with writing characters. Once I get to know them, I know them very well, and I know what they're going to do and how they think.

Question: Who is your favorite movie villain?

Mary Higgins Clark: Maybe in "The Silence of the Lambs," Anthony Hopkins's portrayal of Hannibal Lecter.

Question: Do you let others read your work before it is finished? Do you rewrite based on others' opinions?

Mary Higgins Clark: I only rewrite for my editor's opinion. I have my daughter, and a couple of close friends are very good sounding boards for me. But it's the editor I work with as far as changes are concerned. And I used to be in a writer's workshop, which I found extremely helpful in the early days of writing.

Question: I have enjoyed your books for years now. Have you ever thought about writing other kinds of books, like science fiction or westerns?

Mary Higgins Clark: Not science fiction, not westerns. I might someday try a generational saga kind of book. I would do it under a different name, though. I would do that because everyone suspects suspense from me, and they would be disappointed to learn that it's about how to grow flowers. And I would love to see if a book I sent in totally cold under a different name would sell.

Question: How do you like these online chats? Would you rather visit a store or do a chat remotely? Which do you get more out of?

Mary Higgins Clark: It's apples and oranges. Through the online I can meet people from all over the world. It's very interesting to do in-store chats as well and meet people who are my readers. When I'm having a tough time writing a book, I remember their kind words, and that helps.

Question: Do you find it more difficult to write with two main characters like Henry and Sunday than with only one protagonist, like in most of your other books? Does it make a difference?

Mary Higgins Clark: Henry and Sunday and Elvira and Willie are fun to write. It's a different kind of writing. It's a bit of tongue in cheek -- it's not psychological suspense like the others are.

Question: I know this is off the subject, but you always have interesting settings, so I was wondering...where to you is the most romantic or intriguing place to travel?

Mary Higgins Clark: I love to travel. I used to be a Pan American stewardess. There's no one best place to go. The world is filled with marvelous places to visit. In October my husband and I are going on an around-the-world trip on the Concorde. We'll be on a safari in Africa and at the Taj Mahal and at the Pyramids. What's not to like?

Question: I thought LOVES MUSIC, LOVES TO DANCE was a visually suspenseful book. Is there any talk of a movie being made from it?

Mary Higgins Clark: It's going to be a television movie on the Family Channel, but it hasn't been started yet.

Question: Do you prefer writing short stories to novels? Are they easier to write because they are shorter, or is it difficult to pack a lot in less space?

Mary Higgins Clark: It's not a case of preference, it's that there are some plots that simply do not require 500 pages to write. By writing short stories I'm able to tell those stories, whereas they simply wouldn't work in a novel.

Question: Do you have a favorite character that you have created? And if so, why? And have you always had a vivid imagination?

Mary Higgins Clark: I think the imagination comes with the territory of a writer. My repeat characters are being repeated because they're such fun.

Question: Is there someone whose opinion of your writing will sway you in another direction in terms of plot ... or do you trust your own instincts all the time?

Mary Higgins Clark: It's my own instincts, and Michael Korda and Chuck Adams, my editors at Simon & Schuster -- we discuss the plot carefully, and they're essential in helping to make the most of the plot and bring out the best of the story.

Question: I noticed in your bio that you majored in philosophy. Does this come into play when you are writing? Or is real-life experience more helpful?

Mary Higgins Clark: I think philosophy trains the mind. And in all sorts of philosophy studies there's a great deal of psychology, which is certainly very helpful for me. Getting a philosophy degree entails a fair amount of psychology courses. Real-life experience of course comes into play as well. Which is why the new writer, the beginning writer, is better off working in a real job, because you're having new experiences and are in the mainstream and in constant touch with people and reality, rather than being up in a cottage somewhere.

Question: I can't remember which book it was, but how much research went into using Grand Central Station as a hideout for a kidnapper?

Mary Higgins Clark: A great deal of research. I used to prowl around underneath Grand Central Station. I saw the room that I described in which the kidnapper kept the child and the young woman. That room does exist. The only thing I added was bathroom facilities. Only in Louisa May Alcott does no one use the facilities. And I also had the blueprints of Grand Central Station, which I hope today you would not be able to get. That story line occurs in A STRANGER IS WATCHING.

Question: How many hours a day do you write?

Mary Higgins Clark: I like to write from about eight in the morning to about three or four in the afternoon when I'm working on a book. Toward the end of the book, when the deadline is looming, I may be working 22 hours a day, literally.

Question: Hi, Mary. After so much rejection before your short story was accepted, how did you go on writing? I think I would have felt so discouraged I would have stopped. What made you continue?

Mary Higgins Clark: Because I knew I was going to make it. And the trick is to keep writing. I had 11 short stories in the mail before the first one sold. You've got to have faith in yourself and at the same time be willing to accept criticism. For years I got nothing but printed rejection letters before they would start to write at the bottom of it, "Not for us, but try us again."

Question: Were you influenced by Agatha Christie in your earlier works?

Mary Higgins Clark: Very much so. I liked her writing. And admired her plotting. And also, the fact that her violence is off-camera, which is the way I have always written. THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, that was one of the great ones. I liked SPARKLING CYANIDE as well...MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, the Miss Marple books.

Question: What are some things you like to do outside of writing? I'm such a fan.... I just wondered if your lifestyle is reflected in your writing at all?

Mary Higgins Clark: Yes, right now we're at the Cape Cod house, and it's such a joy to be right on the water. I love the ocean. I enjoy the theater tremendously. My family is always in and out of the house. Last February, 19 of us went to Hawaii together.

Question: I can't believe they let you into the bowels of Grand Central. Did "they" also let you into the bowels of the other Central, the CIA, for that other book that takes place out West?

Mary Higgins Clark: No, in those days, you could just walk down a flight of stairs in Grand Central. Today there are actually people living there. No one stopped me. No one let me do it. You could just walk down a flight of stairs. And today I wouldn't go down there alone. And no, I've certainly never been in the bowels of the CIA.

Moderator: Thank you for joining us, Mary Higgins Clark! Any final thoughts?

Mary Higgins Clark: Goodnight. I love being a storyteller. I think that's what writing is all about. And books should in essence begin with the words "Once upon a time..."

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 67 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 9, 2011


    I read this book a looooooong time ago when i stumbled across it in the 6th grade and i found it again just a while ago. COULDNT PUT IT DOWN!!!!!!!! Its an amazing all of MHC's books

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2006

    Amazing, I couldn't put it down!

    I am a teenager, and as we all know reading is not on my list of fav. things to do. Looking in the library just 2 days ago, I ran upon my first Mary Higgin's Clark book. I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN! I caught myself sneaking and reading it during class lectures. I couldn't have picked a better book to start on, I can't wait to continue reading all of Mary's books. I DEFF. recommend you try it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2014

    Pretend u dont see her

    Dear Preview for english class i can only hope that u r not this ignorant in english class ? ? Please do us...literate people a favor ?....look up the definition of the word review does not mean tell all of us the entire plot to the book !!!! R U A RETARD OR WHAT ?????? THANK U .....C.R.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 19, 2014

    Pretend you don't see her

    Excellent read! I couldn't stop reading

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2013

    Pretend You Don't See Her

    Highly Recommended. A must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2012

    It was written by the "Queen of Suspence"?

    Where was the suspence? Also, Steve has the same last name as me. Weird. But part of me knew Lacey would defeat the bad guy, blah blah blah, happily ever after, more blahs. At the same time, another part of me was absolutely sure, almost hoping, Sandy would kill Lacey. Oh, and one more thing: I just knew Nick was the one who was stealing them.

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2008

    Can't finish it

    I cannot get beyond ONE point in this book: Why in the wide universe would Lacey EVER tell her totally spastic mother where she is?? I've read a couple chapters beyond that, but I'm done. This is the 2nd book in my LONG lifetime of reading that I cannot finish

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2008

    Pretend I Don't See Myself?

    If you were about 30 years old, could you do that? Pretend I'm someone else? Mary Higgins Clark has written another gripping story about Lacey, a young woman who's forced into the witness protection program.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2006

    The Queen has done it again!

    Lacy is an absolutely magnectic character! Her voulnerabilty captivates the reader, making sure you turn the page over and over agian. Lacy struggles with love, danger, and homesickness when she is taken away from her home, and everything she knows, in New York. You don't want to miss this one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2006

    Summer Reading

    I read this book for summer reading and I thought it was so good. I couldn't even but the book down. Every page I read, made me want to continue to the next one. It was a great book and I highly recomend it to anyone who enjoys mystery and suspense filled novels!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2006

    A very good novel

    Pretend you don't see her was an outstanding suspense novel. I, a person who loves to read suspense novels really enjoyed this novel. The plot was obviously thought out very well and it really kept be guessing who the killer was. I really liked the way the author ended the book. It was surprising to see the actual killer! I really enjoyed the way Mary Higgens Clark kept me the reader on my toes.Once I started to read the book I found it was very hard to put down. The author did a very good job of capturing the readers attention. It was a very good book and I will not hesitate to read another of Mary Higgens Clarks books again! Very Enjoyable.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2006

    A very good, well thought out book.

    hIf you are the kind of person that enjoys a book that is suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat, then this a book that you should definately read! The author is very smart in the ways that she makes everything happen and work out in the end. She is the kind of writer that at the end will have you thinking, 'Well I never thought it would be that person!' In 'Pretend You Don't See Her' a girl named Lacey is sent into the Witness Protection program because she was at the wrong place at the wrong time basically. She is followed by a dark man that is very dangerous and that will stop at nothing to get what he has come for, no matter who gets in his way, he has his own ways of taking care of them. I enjoyed this book because Marry Higgins Clark is a very good author. I loved the way she gave you story from everybody's point of view. Everybody from the main character, to her mother, and then even from the murderer. This book is drama, with a hint of love, and friendship. I was telling my friend about what was going on, I was almost through with it, and he just wanted to know what happend in the end. He got so interested in what was going on that he thought that he might even want to indulge himself on this thriller. I know that once I started reading this book, it was hard to get me to stop!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2005

    Awful main character

    This was a frustrating read. Lacey, the main character, was hard to sympathize with. She seemed completely immature, whiney, and either very naive or very stupid. Maybe both. She clearly didn't appear to understand the gravity of the situation she placed herself in. It was very tough to make it all the way through to the end because by then, I was half-way hoping Lacey's selfish, stupid ways would have ended her up in the trouble she deserved.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2004


    great book... really mysterious, being my first book ever from mhc.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2004

    This book is a no go!

    Like most MHC Books the story switched to different characters each chapter. The ending was also very predictable like in most of her books. I would not reccomend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2004

    This book is a good to read for all ages.

    This is a sad and some parts are happy.And when i first read this i was so into this book it like captured me and i got into the book.And some time it wouldnt make sense but that was ok couse i just thought About it and i new what would happen in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2004

    pretend you don't see her

    Pretend You Don¿t See Her by Mary Higgins Clark is a good book I would recommend this book to anyone who loves mysteries. It is most interesting because it switches off quite a bit. At times it¿s Lacey talking; then it¿s her mom and relatives. It gets kind of confusing, but it shows with both points of view that they are all trying to find out who the killer is of Isabella and Heather, and who is trying to kill Lacey. In Pretend You Don¿t See Her the main character, Lacey, is the protagonist. She is trying to find out who the killer is while he is trying to kill her. The antagonist, the killer, is causing the problems by making Lacey scared and worried about him trying to come and kill her too! The story is set in New York and then in Minnesota in recent time. The main conflict in the story is that Heather, Isabella¿s daughter, is killed and Isabella is trying to prove it wasn¿t an accident. In the process of trying to find out Heather¿s killer, Isabella is murdered. Lacey is there when Isabella is killed, and Lacey knows something the killer doesn¿t want anyone to know, so now he¿s out to kill her. Lacey is putting many people in danger by staying around because the killer is following her everywhere and other people are getting hurt because of it. Lacey is then put into a witness protection program. While she is in the program, she is still trying to find out who the killer is. She doesn¿t realize as she is trying to look for him, he is getting closer. The strongest points of the book are when it first starts out with the two murders and then the killer going after Lacey. I thought everything blended and was there for a purpose. It was an interesting story. It makes you think about what¿s going to happen next. Is he going to kill her? When is he going to show up at her house or find out where she lives? The conflict was reasonable because it could happen today. Murders are common around here, especially how the murder is in the book. You never know what is going to happen next. The author tricks you, and you have to find out who the killer is. People who like mysteries would want to read this book. You will want to keep turning the pages to find out more and more things.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2004


    i loved this book .. it was also my first Mary Higgins Clark book and i loved it.. it was a book i wanted to keep reading...i dont read very much and i read this book in a day i loved it..

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2003

    My first MHC novel

    It was okay, however, I had expected more depth. There should have been more character development with regards to the culprit, so that we as readers could have had a better insight once we realized who was after Lacey Farrell.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2003

    One of her best!

    'Pretend you don't see her' was a really good book. I would recommened this book to many of my friends. The book is about this woman, Lacey, who sells houses. Lacey befriends a lady who ends up getting killed. Lacey witnesses all of this and has to go on the run. The book really keeps you into it. Mary Higgins Clark did a great job with the twist in this book. You go through the whole book thinking it's this person, then this person and by the end of the book you think you have it figured out, then you don't. I couldn't put it down. It was probably one of her best books that I have read.

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