Pretend You Don't See Her

Pretend You Don't See Her

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by Mary Higgins Clark, Cecelia Riddett
     
 

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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…  See more details below

Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

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:
9781402535376
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
01/28/1997
Edition description:
Unabridged

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."

"What...are...you...talking...about?" 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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Meet the Author

Mary Higgins Clark, #1 international and New York Times bestselling author, has written thirty-four suspense novels; three collections of short stories; a historical novel; two children’s books; and a memoir, Kitchen Privileges. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she has coauthored five more suspense novels. Her books have sold more than 100 million copies in the United States alone.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York
Date of Birth:
December 24, 1929
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
Education:
New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979
Website:
http://www.simonsays.com/subs/index.cfm?areaid=12

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