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"Do you believe that the circumstances in Ronald Thompson's case, the fact that he committed the murder only days after his seventeenth birthday, making him barely eligible for adult punishment, should have been considered?" (Tom) Brokaw (of the Today Show) asked quickly.
Steve said, "As you know, I will not comment specifically on the Thompson case. It would be entirely inappropriate."
"I understand your concern, Mr. Peterson," the interviewer said, "but you had taken your position on this issue several years before..." He paused, then continued quietly, "before Ronald Thompson murdered your wife."
Ronald Thompson murdered your wife. The starkness of the words still surprised Steve. After two and a half years, he could still feel the sense of shock and outrage that Nina had died that way, her life snuffed out by the intruder who came into their home, by the hands that had relentlessly twisted her scarf around her throat.
Trying to blot the image from his mind, he looked directly ahead. "At one time, I had hoped that the ban on executions in our country might become a permanent one. But as you point out, long before the tragedy in my own family, I had come to the conclusion that if we were to preserve the most fundamental right of human beings...freedom to come and go without fear, freedom to feel sanctuary in our homes, we had to stop the perpetrators of violence. Unfortunately the only way to stop potential murderers seems to be to threaten them with the same harsh judgment they mete out to their victims. And since the first execution was carried out two years ago, the number of murders has dropped dramatically in major cities across the country."
Sharon leaned forward. "You make it sound so reasonable," she cried. "Don't you realize that forty-five percent of murders are committed by people under 25 years of age, many of whom have tragic family backgrounds and a history of instability?"
The solitary viewer in Biltmore's room 932 took his eyes from Steve Peterson and studied the girl thoughtfully. This was the writer Steve was getting serious about. She wasn't at all like his wife. She was obviously taller and had the slender body of someone who might be athletic. His wife had been small and doll-like with rounded breasts and jet black hair that curled around her forehead and ears when she turned her head.
Sharon Martin's eyes reminded him of the color of the ocean that day he'd driven down to the beach last summer. He'd heard that Jones Beach was a good place to meet girls but it hadn't worked out. The one he'd started to fool with in the water had called "Bob!" and a minute later this guy had been beside him, asking what his problem was. So he'd moved his blanket and just stared out at the ocean, watching the changing colors. Green. That was it. Green mixed with blue and churning. He liked eyes that color.
What was Steve saying? Oh yes, he'd said something about feeling sorry for the victims, not their murderers, "for people incapable of defending themselves."
"My sympathies are with them too," Sharon cried "But it's not either/or. Don't you see that life imprisonment would be punishment enough for the Ronald Thompsons of this world?" She forgot Tom Brokaw, forgot the television cameras as once again she tried to convince Steve. "How can you...who are so compassionate...who value life so much...want to play God?" she asked. "How can anyone presume to play God?"
It was an argument that began and ended the same way as it had that first time six months ago when they'd met on this program. Finally Tom Brokaw said, "Our time is running out. Can we sum up by saying that notwithstanding the public demonstrations, prison riots and student rallys that are regularly occurring all over the country, you still believe, Mr. Peterson, that the sharp drop in random murder justifies execution?"
"I believe in the moral right...the duty...of society to protect itself, and of the government to protect the sacred liberty of its citizens," Steve said.
"Sharon Martin?" Brokaw turned quickly to her. "I believe that the death penalty is senseless and brutalizing. I believe that we can make the home and streets safe by removing violent offenders and punishing them with swift, sure sentences, by voting for the bond issues that will build the necessary correctional institutions and will pay the people who staff them. I believe that it is our reverence for life, all life, that is the final test of us as individuals and as a society."
Tom Brokaw said hurriedly, "Sharon Martin, Steven Peterson, thank you for being with us on Today. I'll be back after this message..."
The television set in room 932 of the Biltmore was snapped off. For a long time the muscular, thick-chested man in the green-plaid suit sat staring straight ahead at the darkened screen. Once again he reviewed his plan, the plan that began with putting the pictures and the suitcase in the secret room in Grand Central Station and would end with bringing Steve Peterson's son Neil there tonight. But now he had to decide. Sharon Martin was going to be at Steve's house this evening. She would be minding Neil until Steve got home.
He'd planned simply to eliminate her there.
But should he? She was so beautiful.
He thought of those eyes, the color of the ocean, churning, caring.
It seemed to him that when she looked directly into the camera she had been looking at him. It seemed as though she wanted him to come for her.
Maybe she loved him.
If she didn't it would be easy to get rid of her.
He'd just leave her in the room in Grand Central with the child on Wednesday morning.
Then at 11:30 when the bomb went off, she, too, would be blown to bits.
Copyright © 1977 by Mary Higgins Clark
Posted February 29, 2004
My friend chose this book for her summer reading in 9th grade. She recommended the book to me when she was done. I started reading and at first was confused by the jumpy scenes but I got in to it. It was good and caught my attention. I love MHC and have read several other books of her since then. But not all her books grab me at first (or at all) This is a very good book!
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Posted May 5, 2010
This book was funny to read - it was before cell phones and computers but I wanted to buy this book since it's one of the few Mary Higgins Clark books I had not read to date.
Great suspense as usal - great read - hate putting it down.
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Posted May 16, 2008
Ronald Thompson is about to face the death penalty for a murder he says he didn¿t commit. Steve Peterson is on television supporting the murder while his new love, Sharon Martin, is protesting it. A few years ago Steve¿s wife was murdered by Ronald Thompson and his son witnessed it. I think he is just supporting the murder because he is still in pain from it, so he wants him to feel pain. That evening, a man kidnapped Neil and Sharon while Steve is out. He hides them out in an abandoned room in the Grand Central Station. A bomb is planted in the room that will kill anyone in the train station. Will Steve save Neil and Sharon before the bomb goes off? Will Ronald Thompson be executed? Is he even guilty? All of this happens in the story of A Stranger is Watching by Mary Higgins Clark. The best-selling author¿s book takes place in the early 70s. There is not much told about the guy who kidnapped Neil and Sharon. I feel that the book was on and off. What I mean by that is that some parts you would not want to put the book down and at others you wouldn¿t even want to move to the next line. The book to me is not very consistent with its suspense. This book is making the readers feel sorry for Neil because he has very bad asthma and gets several asthma attacks throughout the movie. Clark also makes you feel bad for a kid who was 17 when he committed the crime get the death penalty put on him. This story was written in the 70s, so it was different in how hey look for people now then they did then. Now we have all these machines, computers, and cell phones to help us out when back then all they had was to solve the case by good detective work. I thought the book was fairly good. I would give it 7 out of 10. I thought it could have used a little more suspense to keep the readers on their toes and not wanting to put the book down. I also felt that the ending went a little to fast a she put it into too little of words. I think Clark could have put it into more details, so that I could understand the surrounding a little more. Other than that I thought the book was a good story teller and if I had the chance I would read it all over again. I would recommend this to anybody who likes murder stories.
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Posted December 31, 2007
Classic MHC. A teenager wrongly convicted of a woman's murder, waiting on death row for his execution in a few days. A grieving widower and son, seeking closure and healing. A psychotic killer who has never been traced to five unsolved murders. Well-written, entertaining, nail-biting.
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Posted January 12, 2005
I would like to be an avid reader some day; for now I'm just a wannabe. Before this book, the fastest I ever read a book was two weeks (Daddy's Little Girl, MHC), because I tend to have troule keeping interest in a book. However, I thought this book was wonderfully suspensful and I enjoyed the characters -- I finished it in three sittings.
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Posted December 9, 2014
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Posted July 28, 2011
Posted June 20, 2006
This book was amazingly suspenseful. I read it in only 2 sittings. Rather than go watch a horror movie, stay in and read a suspenseful thriller like this. Words cannot articulate how much you will love this book once you read it.
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Posted February 13, 2006
This was one of the best books I have read in a long time! The author of this book keeps you on the edge of your seat and makes you never want to put the book down. In the book, Steve Peterson's wife Nina was killed two years ago by a pyhsco murderer who has some unfinished business he has left to do. Even though Steve thinks the murderer is Ronald Thompson, whenever Steve returned home one night he finds that his new girlfriend Sharon and his son Neil have been kidnapped! FBI's, neighbors, and friends are all out to help Steve get his family back, but the only way he is able to do that is to give the kidnapper a ransom and if not then he is going to blow them up in the hidden room underneath a train station. From there and throughout the book, Steve is doing all he can to find and get Sharon and Neil back before they take the life from Ronald Thompson, who Steve now believes is innocent. Any time I would start reading this book I would never want to put it down because it will definately keep you on the edge of your seat! This was the first book that I actually read in a short amount of time because I usually have a problem with not being able to get into my book but with this book you will always want to keep reading it. I would recomend this book to anyone who loves to read suspenseful books and that loves to be on the edge of their seat.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 4, 2005
Posted April 2, 2004
I absolutely loved this book! It is a total page turner. The author writes books that keep people on their toes and with this book she definately suceeded. The book is about a young woman named Sharon Martin who is dating a widower named Steve. Steve's wife was murdered about a year ago. His son Neil has not yet gotten over his mother's death and refuses to be friendly with Sharon. Things get complicated when Shaton and Neil get kidnapped by a psycho who is planning to blow them up. I found it very hard to put this book down, especially near the end. I got so sucked into the book that I just had to find out if Neil and Sharon were rescued. The author has a knack for making her characters seem so incredibly real that you actually start to really hate the bad guy and get attached to the heroine. This book was meant to keep people on the edge of their seat and that's exactly what it does. This is definately one of the best books I've read by this author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 11, 2003
I started reading Mary Higgins Clark about 8 years ago and with the exception of 1 other author she is my all time favorite. I have read EVERY one of her books except the latest one 'Second Time Around' .I think this book (second time read) is good and I feel sorry for the woman of the children but in the end she comes out stronger.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 11, 2003
Posted March 8, 2003
I always have hated reading and have read the Box Car Children up until right before 6th grade. Then my friend handed be this book and told me try this i think you'll like it. It took me almost 2 months to read this intire book but i kept at it. I don't have a disability in reading i just don't like it. Well i read this book and WOW it was so awsome!! I have been reading Mary Higgins Clark books since then and other adult books! I am so happy to be far away from those box car children. YOU HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK IT'S SO EXCITING!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 2, 2003
When i first started this book, i had heard some good things about it. I hadnt wanted to read it on my own, but i had to choose a mystery novel for my school project. As i started the book, i was confused by the jumpy scenes. It was boring and hard to follow. I would not recomend this book to any one.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 6, 2002
Whenever anyone asks me what my favorite book is I always respond "A Stranger is Watching". I read the novel whenever I was eleven, and I became hooked on Mary Higgins Clark for about 7 years now. The story is really exciting and keeps you on the edge of your seat. From the kidnapping all the way to an action packed ending, it's a thrill ride that doesn't let go. Also, it's really intersting to see how all of the characters are used to come together and completely fill in the story. The main character was a man but of course he was accompanied by his girl friend herorine. Even though most of Mary Higgins Clark's stories appeal to women, this story really made me look into the eyes of a desperate father. It's a really great read and so are any of Clark's stories. She really knows how to get an attention from an audience, and her current stories are still strong, but I still believe that "A Stranger is Watching" will forever be her greatest.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 9, 2001
This story is very amazing. I read it for a a project in grade 9 English. It started off by telling about all different characters. Then the stories of the characters are linked together in a very unique way! It is just like watching a movie. The whole story is controlled by the time when Ronald Thompson would be executed. You just always have to look at the time. Once you start reading this book, you just can't stop!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 30, 2001
This is a very good book. I felt like I was sitting on the edge of my seat, watching a movie. The entire book takes place in two days, and are they ever exciting. You get to see the killers perspective as well as that of the victems.You will be keeping track of the minutes. This is a fun read.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 6, 2001
This is one of the best books I've ever read! This book was so suspensful and I couldn't put it down! I actually finshed this book in a restraunt because I could live without knowing who the murderer/kidnapper is. I 130% recommend this book to every one!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.