Mary Higgins Clark is one of my favourite authors. One of the few things I regret in life is giving away my collection of her books to a local charity shop to make it easier to move house. I’m gradually buying them all back from various other second-hand shops, and last week I stumbled across one I hadn’t actually read before: The Lost Years.
Mariah’s father is found dead in his study. He’s been shot, and her mother, who has Alzheimer’s, is found crouching in the closet nearby, covered in his blood and clutching the gun. It seems like an open-and-shut case, but Mariah is convinced that her mother is innocent and sets out to prove it with the help of her next-door neighbour, Lloyd the lawyer.
A complication arises in the form of an ancient document which her father allegedly discovered shortly before his death. Purported to be the only letter ever written by Jesus Christ, it has provoked controversy in the church for centuries and now seems inextricably tangled up with the questions surrounding Mariah’s father’s murder.
And of course, the document has disappeared. Who has it? Where? And to what lengths will people go in order to get their hands on it?
You only realise that this is one of Higgins Clark’s “Alvirah and Willy” stories a few chapters in; as a couple of characters, I like them rather a lot, but somehow this book falls a bit flat.
I wanted to like it, but the writing style seemed unusually clunky, and the ending was a bit of a disappointment. I usually find it almost impossible to guess the big twist in one of her novels, but this time round Higgins Clark seems to have gone for the easy option.
Much as it pains me to say it, the only thing that’d make me buy this book is to fill a space in my MHC collection. It’s not that gripping and the story isn’t very interesting. But she’s written dozens of other fantastic books, so if this is the only one you’ve read so far, don’t let it put you off. Mary Higgins Clark remains the Queen of Suspense. But even a queen has her off days.