The Lost Years

The Lost Years

by Mary Higgins Clark

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reissue)

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Now in mass market, the latest suspense from #1 New York Times bestselling author and Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark, where a biblical scholar is found murdered shortly after discovering the most revered and holy document in human history, which has now gone missing...

Dr. Jonathan Lyons, a seventy-year-old biblical scholar, believes he has found the rarest of parchments—a letter that may have been written by Jesus Christ. Stolen from the Vatican library in the fifteenth century, it was assumed to be lost forever.

Under the promise of secrecy, Jonathan attempts to confirm his findings with several other biblical experts. But on the eve before his own murder, he confides to Father Aiden O’Brien, a family friend, that one of those whom he trusted most is determined to keep it from being returned to the Vatican.

The next evening Jonathan Lyons is found shot to death in his New Jersey home. His daughter, twenty-seven year old Mariah, finds her father’s body sprawled over his desk in his study, a fatal bullet wound in the back of his neck, and her mother, Kathleen, an Alzheimer’s victim, hiding in the study closet, incoherent and clutching the murder weapon. The police suspect that Kathleen, who in her lucid moments knows that Jonathan was involved with a much younger woman Lily Stewart, has committed the murder.

But Mariah believes that the key to her father’s death is tied to another question: Where is the missing parchment? Whom, among his close circle of friends, might he have consulted? And did one of them kill to keep possession of the letter?

What Mariah doesn’t know is that there was an eyewitness to the murder, someone whose unwise attempt to blackmail the killer begins a new circle of death, with Mariah as the ultimate target of one person’s obsession with a priceless historical treasure.

With all the elements that have made her a worldwide bestseller, Mary Higgins Clark’s The Lost Years is at once a breathless murder mystery and a hunt for what may be the most precious religious and archeological treasure of all time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781451668926
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: 03/19/2013
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 375
Sales rank: 84,107
Product dimensions: 4.00(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark has written thirty-seven suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a historical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she has coauthored five more suspense novels, and also wrote The Cinderella Murder, All Dressed in White, The Sleeping Beauty Killer, and Every Breath You Take with bestselling author Alafair Burke. More than one hundred million copies of her books are in print in the United States alone. Her books are international bestsellers.


Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York

Date of Birth:

December 24, 1929

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979

Read an Excerpt


Today is the day of my father’s funeral. He was murdered.

That was the first thought twenty-eight-year-old Mariah Lyons had as she awoke from a fitful sleep in the home where she had been raised in Mahwah, a town bordering the Ramapo Mountains in northern New Jersey. Brushing back the tears that were welling in her eyes, she sat up slowly, slid her feet onto the floor, and looked around her room.

When she was sixteen, she had been allowed to redecorate it as a birthday present and had chosen to have the walls painted red. For the coverlet and pillows and valances she had decided on a cheery red-and-white flowered pattern. The big, comfortable chair in the corner was where she always did her homework, instead of at the desk. Her eyes fell upon the shelf that her father had built over the dresser to hold her trophies from her high school soccer and basketball championship teams. He was so proud of me, she thought sadly. He wanted to redecorate again when I finished college, but I never wanted it changed. I don’t care if it still has the look of a teenager’s room.

She tried to remind herself that until now she had been one of those fortunate people whose only experience with death in the family had been when she was fifteen and her eighty-six-year-old grandmother had passed away in her sleep. I really loved Gran, but I was so grateful that she had been spared a lot of indignity, she thought. Her strength was failing and she hated to be dependent on anyone.

Mariah stood up, reached for the robe at the foot of the bed, and slipped into it, tying the sash around her slender waist. But this is different, she thought. My father did not die a natural death. He was shot while he was reading at his desk in his study downstairs. Her mouth went dry as she asked herself again the same questions she had been asking over and over. Was Mom in the room when it happened? Or did she come in after she heard the sound of the shot? And is there any chance that Mom was the one who did it? Please, God, don’t let it turn out to be that way.

She walked over to the vanity and looked into the mirror. I look so pale, she thought as she brushed back her shoulder-length black hair. Her eyes were swollen from all the tears of the last few days. An incongruous thought went through her mind: I’m glad I have Daddy’s dark blue eyes. I’m glad I’m tall like him. It sure helped when I was playing basketball.

“I can’t believe he is gone,” she whispered, recalling his seventieth birthday party only three weeks earlier. The events of the past four days replayed in her mind. On Monday evening she had stayed at her office to work out an investment plan for a new client. When she got home to her Greenwich Village apartment at eight o’clock, she had made her usual evening call to her father. Daddy sounded very down, she remembered. He told me that Mom had had a terrible day, that it was clear the Alzheimer’s was getting worse. Something made me phone back at ten thirty. I was worried about both of them.

When Daddy didn’t answer, I knew that something was wrong. Mariah thought back to that seemingly endless drive from Greenwich Village as she had rushed to New Jersey that night. I called them again and again on the way over, she thought. She remembered how she had turned into the driveway at eleven twenty, fumbling for her house key in the dark as she ran from the car. All the downstairs lights were still on in the house, and once she was inside, she went straight to the study.

The horror of what she had found replayed in her mind as it had been doing incessantly. Her father was slumped across his desk, his head and shoulders bloodied. Her mother, soaked in blood, was cowering in the closet near the desk, clutching her father’s pistol.

Mom saw me and started moaning, “So much noise… so much blood… ”

I was frantic, Mariah remembered. When I called 911, all I could scream was “My father is dead! My father has been shot!”

The police arrived in minutes. I’ll never forget how they looked at Mom and me. I had hugged Daddy, so I had blood all over me too. I overheard one of the cops say that by touching Daddy I had contaminated the crime scene.

Mariah realized she had been staring unseeingly into the mirror. Glancing down at the clock on the vanity she saw that it was already seven thirty. I have to get ready, she thought. We should be at the funeral parlor by nine. I hope Rory is getting Mom ready by now. Rory Steiger, a stocky sixty-two-year-old woman, had been her mother’s caregiver for the past two years.

Twenty minutes later, showered and her hair blown dry, Mariah came back into the bedroom, opened the door of the closet, and took out the black-and-white jacket and black skirt she had chosen to wear to the funeral. People used to be draped in black when there was a death in the family, she thought. I remember seeing pictures of Jackie Kennedy in a long mourning veil. Oh God, why did this have to happen?

When she was finished dressing, she walked over to the window. She had left it open when she had gone to bed and the breeze was making the curtains ripple on the sill. She stood for a moment looking out over the backyard, which was shaded by the Japanese maple trees her father had planted years ago. The begonias and impatiens he had planted in the spring ringed the patio. The sun made the Ramapo Mountains in the distance shimmer with tones of green and gold. It was a perfect late August day.

I don’t want it to be a beautiful day, Mariah thought. It’s as if nothing terrible has happened. But it has happened. Daddy was murdered. I want it to be rainy and cold and wet. I want the rain to weep on his casket. I want the heavens to weep for him.

He is gone forever.

Guilt and sadness enveloped her. That gentle college professor who was so glad to retire three years ago and spend most of his time studying ancient manuscripts had been violently murdered. I loved him dearly, but it’s so awful that for the last year and a half our relationship has been strained, all because of his affair with Lillian Stewart, the professor he met from Columbia University, whose very existence had changed all of our lives.

Mariah remembered her dismay when she came home a year and a half ago to find her mother holding pictures she had found of Lillian and her father with their arms around each other. I was so angry when I realized that this had probably been going on while Lily was with him on his archaeological digs to Egypt or Greece or Israel or God knows where, for the past five years. I was so furious that he actually had her in the house when we had his other friends, like Richard, Charles, Albert, and Greg, over for dinner.

I despise that woman, Mariah told herself.

The fact that my father was twenty years her senior apparently did not bother Lily, Mariah thought grimly. I’ve tried to be fair and understand.

Mom has been drifting away for years, and I know it was so tough on Dad to see her deteriorate. But she still has her somewhat good days. She still talks about those pictures so often. She was so hurt knowing that Dad had someone else in his life.

I don’t want to be thinking like this, Mariah said to herself as she turned away from the window. I want my father to be alive. I want to tell him how sorry I am that I asked him only last week if Lily of the Nile Valley had been a good traveling companion on their latest jaunt to Greece.

Turning away from the window, she walked over to the desk and studied a picture of her mother and father taken ten years ago. I remember how loving they used to be with each other, Mariah thought. They were married when they were in graduate school.

I didn’t make my appearance for fifteen years.

She smiled faintly as she remembered her mother telling her that as long as they had had to wait, God had given them the perfect child. Actually, Mom was being more than generous, she thought. Both of them were so strikingly handsome. And elegant. And charming. Growing up I certainly was no head-turner. A mop of long, straight black hair, so skinny that l looked undernourished, beanpole tall, and teeth that I grew into but were too big for my face when they first arrived. But I was lucky enough to end up being a decent composite of both of them.

Dad, Daddy, please don’t be dead. Be at the breakfast table when I get there. Have your coffee cup in hand, and be reading the Times or the Wall Street Journal. I’ll grab the Post and turn to “Page Six,” and you’ll look over your glasses and give me that look that means a mind is a dreadful thing to waste.

I don’t want to eat anything, I’ll just have coffee, Mariah decided as she opened the door of the bedroom and walked down the hall to the staircase. She paused on the top step but didn’t hear any sound from the connecting bedrooms where her mother and Rory slept. I hope that means they’re downstairs, she thought.

There was no sign of them in the breakfast room. She went into the kitchen. Betty Pierce, the housekeeper, was there. “Mariah, your mother wouldn’t eat anything. She wanted to go into the study. I don’t think you’ll like what she’s wearing but she’s pretty insistent. It’s that blue and green linen suit you bought her for Mother’s Day.”

Mariah considered protesting but then asked herself, What in the name of God is the difference? She took the coffee that Betty poured for her and carried it into the study. Rory was standing there looking distressed. At Mariah’s unasked question she jerked her head toward the closet door. “She won’t let me leave the door open,” she said. “She won’t let me stay in there with her.”

Mariah tapped on the closet door and opened it slowly while murmuring her mother’s name. Oddly sometimes her mother answered to it more easily than when Mariah called her “Mom.” “Kathleen,” she said softly. “Kathleen, it’s time to have a cup of tea and a cinnamon bun.”

The closet was large, with shelves on either side. Kathleen Lyons was sitting on the floor at the far end of it. Her arms were wrapped protectively around her body and her head was pressed against her chest as though she was bracing for a blow. Her eyes were shut tight and her silver hair was falling forward, covering most of her face. Mariah knelt down and embraced her, rocking her as if she was a child.

“So much noise… so much blood,” her mother whispered, the same words she had been repeating since the murder. But then she did let Mariah help her up and smooth back the short, wavy hair from her pretty face. Again Mariah was reminded that her mother had been only a few months younger than her father and would not look her age if it weren’t for the fearful way she moved, as though at any minute she could step into an abyss.

As Mariah led her mother out of the study she did not see the baleful expression on the face of Rory Steiger or the secret smile she permitted herself.

Now I won’t be stuck with her much longer, Rory thought.

Customer Reviews

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The Lost Years 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 165 reviews.
Jordanreads More than 1 year ago
This is one of her best. I had backed off some of her more recent books because I thought they were getting a little predictable, but the historical and religious themes in this one interested me. I was not disappointed. This has everything a mystery should have, intrigue, suspense and a good story. Very enjoyable read.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
A good idea wrapped in a lot of superfluous schmaltz sums up this latest effort by Mary Higgins Clark. The plot involves the discovery by a Biblical scholar, Dr. Jonathan Lyons, of the only letter supposedly ever written by Jesus, and Lyons’ subsequent murder, presumably as a result. The mystery, of course, is which of his various friends and co-workers wants the manuscript to sell on the black market instead of it being returned to the Vatican library from which it was removed in the 1400’s. Instead of a straight police procedural, the story becomes bogged down in several side issues: Dr. Lyons’ daughter’s guilt over her alienation from her father over the issue of his mistress and her own “love life;” a couple of characters, Alvirah and Willy, who outwit the police and the perpetrator; and Lyons’ wife’s dementia, among other things. The author can still write smoothly, but the novel smacks of a manufactured outline, rather than a carefully developed plot, with each step carefully constructed to fit. It is unfortunate because the idea for the story is excellent, and if the characters were more deeply drawn, and the irrelevancies omitted, the novel could have been more intriguing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Had some very intresting twista, but had so many details that it would take too long o get to the point
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this author amd was so looking forward to this book. Sadly I was very disappointed. Too many similar characters, boring book-- had to force myself to finish this. Hope her next one is better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have just started reading and dont want to put it down! Another great mystery by MHC. She is my favorite author. I love all her stories and this one is no exception! It is worth the time and money. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Typical MHC, so you get what you should expect...if you are looking for historical or controversial religious content (i.e. a Dan Brown style) then you will be disappointed. A lot of characters with similar background a little hard to keep track of "who might have done it" leading up to the end. One of the blander ones I have read, and I consider myself a fan (pre ordered this with high hopes almost 2 months early).
danilos More than 1 year ago
Awesome! Worth the money
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a feeling that the killer was the person in the end.i don't want to spoil it for the people who read the reviews.
ChaLee More than 1 year ago
Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favorite authors, and this book does not disappoint. She always keeps you guessing at "whodunnit".
briandrewz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was a pretty good tale spun by a veteran storyteller. The book starts out slow but quickly picks up in pace. It's nice to see old favorites like Alvirah and Willy Meehan. Clark does a good job keeping everyone's plates spinning and tying up all the loose ends.
Quiltinfun06 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Time for Mary Higgins Clark to stop writing. Her once unputadownable mysteries are nothing special. I feel like she has a formula and just plugs in some new details and creates a new novel. The Lost Years is a bit of this and a bit of that which amounts to zip, zero, nadda.My once guilty pleasure read of a Mary Higgins Clark mystery has come to an end. I am certainly glad that I borrowed the past 2 from the library and next time I'll pass on that idea too.
thehistorychic on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Read from March 30 to April 09, 2012Received for ReviewChallenges: AudiobookOverall Rating: 3.75Story Rating: 4.00Character Rating: 3.50Audio Rating: 4.00 (Not part of the overall rating)First Thought when Finished: The epilogue really helped tie everything together!What I Loved: I will admit that this is my first Mary Higgins Clark book and it won't be my last. I really enjoyed MHC's story telling ability. I loved how she took what seemed like an open/shut case and had enough twists/turns to make it interesting. Not a single character was just good or bad but full of shades of grey. That is always fun to read in a mystery. My favorite part was the lottery winning couple! They cracked me up at times!What I Liked: Mary Higgins Clark did a good job of weaving everyone's stories together in a way that made them connected but not necessarily friends. While there were times I questioned the motivation behind certain characters thoughts by the end I was convinced that they acted accordingly. The mystery itself was interesting enough but don't think it is like a wide sweeping DaVinci Code. This mystery is about a murder and I think you will enjoy it more if you remember that!What made me go huh?: I loved the lottery winning couple but I was amazed at often the police let them interfere. In the real world, I have a feeling the police would have put the hammer down on that pretty quickly.Audio Review: Jan Maxwell did an excellent job with the rhythm and pace of the story. I would listen to a book read by her again.Final Thoughts: This was a good murder mystery that was perfect for a weekend listen while working!
susiesharp on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As usually Mary Higgins Clark keeps you guessing, she really is the queen of suspense. From the description I was afraid it would be different than her usual works (or too Dan Brown-y) but it wasn¿t it was another great mystery/suspense and with the bonus of Alvirah who was not even mentioned in the synopsis which I don¿t understand, I am a fan of Alvirah so was happy when her and Willie showed up!Yes there is a supposed letter/parchment written by Jesus but as I said it doesn¿t go into a big church cover-up type story. When biblical scholar Jonathan is murdered, police think his wife, who has Alzheimer¿s, is the culprit but where is this parchment and why are all Jonathan¿s friends lying about it? Also Jonathan had a mistress what is her part in all this?This one had me guessing and second guessing all the way through, but that¿s the beauty of MHC¿s writing. As always she writes a good mystery. These are hard to review because you don¿t want to spoil it for anyone and the way MCH always makes everyone a suspect I don¿t want to say too much and give it way! Suffice it to say if you¿re a fan of Mary Higgins Clark you¿ll like it if you¿ve never given her a chance she has a great selection of stand-alone books pick one you won¿t be disappointed. I also highly recommend her books on audio with the majority of them read by Jan Maxwell.Jan Maxwell always does a great job on MCH¿s books her narrations never get stale no matter how many Mary Higgins Clark¿s books I¿ve heard her narrate. I also just recently found out that Jan Maxwell and I went to the same high school so that was a little small world fun fact!4 Stars
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Great book
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Could not put it down
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BookLoverInNeLA More than 1 year ago
Mary Higgins Clark's The Lost Years is thought provoking, and in my opinion, quite unlike anything else she has written. Dr. Jonathan Lyons, a Biblical scholar, thinks he has found the only letter Jesus Christ ever wrote while He lived on this earth - a letter written to Joseph of Arimethea. Since the Bible is silent about Jesus' life from age 12 (after He was found in the Temple by his mother and Joseph) to 30, I thought this premise was great. And even though Mariah was upset with her father for having an affair, she is determined to see that his murderer is brought to justice. I figured out who the culprit before I normally do with Mary's books, but hey, this was still an enjoyable read. I will recommend this book to anyone who asks me.
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