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By Laura Caldwell
MIRACopyright © 2005 Laura Caldwell
All right reserved.
The short letter, a note really, arrived at my apartment on a Thursday. It was one of those random, end-of-April days in Manhattan when the temperature shot to eighty degrees, sending everyone to Central Park or the cafés that had rushed to set up their outdoor tables. A boisterous, electric feeling was in the air. I called Maddy from my cell phone as I walked home from the subway, and we decided to go for wine and dinner at Bryant Park Grill, a rooftop restaurant where Maddy knew the maître d'.
In the terminally slow elevator on the way to my apartment, I glanced at my mail. There was nothing interesting at first, just a bill and a few obvious pieces of junk, but I stopped when I came to the flat, business-size envelope with no return address. The envelope looked as if it had been printed on a personal computer, and there was a postage stamp with an antique car on it.
Inside my place, I dropped my purse, my briefcase and the rest of the mail on the front-hall table, then slit open the envelope. I pulled out a piece of folded white paper, and strangely, all my senses went on alert. The apartment was suddenly warm and stuffy. It smelled dusty and stale, and my skin itched from the uncharacteristic heat. Holding the envelope and the still-folded paper, I walked to the windows and cranked them open for the first time that year. Balmy, fresh air seeped into the room.
I sat on the couch and unfolded the paper. Only two typewritten lines appeared there.
There is no statute of limitations on murder.
"What?" I said the word out loud, but as I read the note again, some odd glimmer of comprehension began to ruffle my mind. It wasn't that I recognized the words or the type. I was sure I'd never heard those exact sentences before, and I had no idea who'd written them, yet there was a flicker of understanding.
The breeze from my windows felt too cool then, yet I didn't move to close them. In fact, I hoped the air would help me breathe. All at once, my chest and throat felt constricted, my lungs making shallow movements. I told myself to stay calm and put the note down. But I couldn't let go of the paper. I read the words over and over until I felt light-headed, and the words swam in front of me. Murder, statute, closely
The ring of the phone rattled me away from the letter. I blinked rapidly, finally getting that deep breath, and grabbed the receiver off the end table.
"Hailey, it's me," Maddy said. "I'm early, and I'm two blocks from you, so I'm coming over."
I dropped the letter in my lap. "I need a few minutes."
"Why? What's wrong?"
"Nothing. It's It's nothing."
"Whoa," she said. "I know that voice. I'll be right there."
Five minutes later, she buzzed from the lobby.
"What's up with you?" she said when I opened the door, the letter still in my hand. "What's wrong?"
I handed her the note. "I'm not sure." I felt both sick and elated, as if on the verge of some discovery.
Maddy read it. "What in the hell is this?"
I shook my head and took the note from her. I read it again, letting that flicker of comprehension grow brighter.
"Hailey, what's going on?" Maddy said, her voice cautious, slightly alarmed. She flicked her dark, ringletted hair over her shoulder.
"I just got it in the mail," I said inanely.
"Who sent it?"
Maddy groaned. "Why are you being so difficult? Give me the envelope."
I turned toward the couch and pointed to where it had fallen off my lap. It was now almost hidden between the cushions. Maddy's heels tapped on the wood floor as she crossed the room. For some reason, I noticed that she was wearing an expensive-looking tan suit, one I hadn't seen before.
"The letter was sent from here in the city," she said, lifting the envelope and pointing to the postmark. "Do you have any idea who sent it to you?"
"No." I looked down at the page, although I knew the words by heart already.
"Well, who was murdered? I mean, do you know who it's referring to?"
I felt that nauseous elation again, a sick swoop and dive of my insides. "Yeah, I think so," I said. "My mom."
My lungs ached, but I ignored the feeling. I ran faster, heading south down Broadway, then rounding the corner at Union Square West, just barely avoiding a full-frontal collision with a falafel vendor. I kept running, my shoes making dull slaps on the concrete, until I hit University, where I turned toward my apartment. Almost there, almost there. My breath sounded ragged to my own ears, but I pushed past it. Just a few more blocks. I pumped my arms faster, increasing my speed, feeling my bangs stick to my forehead with sweat.
I reached Eleventh Street and dropped to a walk, letting my breath catch up with me. It was heaven to jog without all my winter layers, to let the breeze hit my bare legs, to let the run shake off the thoughts of that letter, those two sentences that I carried constantly in my brain. I'd spent the last few weeks obsessing about who had sent it to me. I wouldn't show it to my dad, and I had no guesses myself. On a long shot, I interrogated my mailman, but he could only tell me the bit of information I already knew — that the envelope had originally been sent from here in Manhattan. Which left me with millions of residents to consider, not to mention the millions of tourists.
Excerpted from Look Closely by Laura Caldwell Copyright © 2005 by Laura Caldwell. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I read this book nearly straight through, so it definitely kept my attention. The ending was not a complete surprise...there were really only a couple of possibilities, and the juggling of the timing of events in the story was a bit unwieldy. Still, she gave a good feel for the characters and the places in the stories. I was intrigued by her way of telling the story more than the actual events themselves. Great as a beach book or a book to take on a trip.
A disappointment - after reading several of Caldwell's other books and loving them, this one fell flat. It good have done with better editing (a lot of typos, mistakes in continuity, that sort of thing) and the story was weak at best. I was bummed.
I read this book over the summer, and it was so great! The mystery plot-line was so amzing that you will be guessing and guessing who the murder is! I great plot, great beginning, and an even better ending.
'Look Closely' was such an amazing novel! Full of suspense, really keeps you on the edge of your seat! Hailey, McKnight, and all the other characters seem so amazingly real! This is truly a book to remember!
The unsigned letter contained a cryptic message of ¿There is no statute of limitations on murder. LOOK CLOSELY¿. Manhattan attorney Hailey Sutter has no idea who sent it, but knows what the writer is alluding to, the accidental death of her mother Leah when she was only seven years old............................ . Over the next two decades whenever Hailey asked her father what happened, he insisted she was ill and tells her no more including what happened to her two siblings who vanished without a trace just after Leah died. However, this time with the letter as a catalyst, she begins asking questions and learns that her mom died from a head injury. Not long after that Hailey begins remembering flashes of what happened on that fatal night and starts to wonder if her father killed her mother........................... LOOK CLOSELY is a thrilling who-done-it that the audience wants to know the truth once Hailey gets the letter and decides she needs to know especially if her dad killed her mom and what happened to her siblings. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine begins exploring her mind for clues and seeking knowledge from others who might have tidbits. Though Hailey seems too egocentric, the audience will allow her that because of what occurred when she was a child but still not like her. Laura Caldwell provides a solid thriller that hoods readers with the need to know...................... Harriet Klausner