Title: Where Are You Now?
Author: Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster
Read for: Queen of Suspense challenge
It has been ten years since twenty-one-year-old Charles MacKenzie Jr. (“Mack”) went missing. A Columbia University senior, about to graduate and already accepted at Duke University Law School, he walked out of his apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side without a word to his college roommates and has never been seen again. However, he does make one ritual phone call to his mother every year: on Mother’s Day. Each time, he assures her he is fine, refuses to answer her frantic questions, then hangs up. Even the death of his father, a corporate lawyer, in the tragedy of 9/11 does not bring him home or break the pattern of his calls.
Mack’s sister, Carolyn, is now twenty-six, a law school graduate, and has just finished her clerkship for a civil court judge in Manhattan. She has endured two family tragedies, yet she realizes that she will never be able to have closure and get on with her life until she finds her brother. She resolves to discover what happened to Mack and why he has found it necessary to hide from them. So this year when Mack makes his annual Mother’s Day call, Carolyn interrupts to announce her intention to track him down, no matter what it takes. The next morning after Mass, her uncle, Monsignor Devon MacKenzie, receives a scrawled message left in the collection basket: “Uncle Devon, tell Carolyn she must not look for me.”
Mack’s cryptic warning does nothing to deter his sister from taking up the search, despite the angry reaction of her mother, Olivia, and the polite disapproval of Elliott Wallace, Carolyn’s honorary uncle, who is clearly in love with Olivia.
Carolyn’s pursuit of the truth about Mack’s disappearance swiftly plunges her into a world of unexpected danger and unanswered questions. What is the secret that Gus and Lil Kramer, the superintendents of the building in which Mack was living, have to hide? What do Mack’s old roommates, the charismatic club owner Nick DeMarco and the cold and wealthy real estate tycoon Bruce Galbraith, know about Mack’s disappearance? Is Nick connected to the disappearance of Leesey Andrews, who had last been seen in his trendy club? Can the police possibly believe that Mack is not only alive, but a serial killer, a shadowy predator of young women? Was Mack also guilty of the brutal murder of his drama teacher and the theft of his taped sessions with her?
Carolyn’s passionate search for the truth about her brother — and for her brother himself — leads her into a deadly confrontation with someone close to her whose secret he cannot allow her to reveal. (goodreads.com)
I have finally figured out what it is about MHC’s books that bug me: the dialogue. I’ll be reading, engrossed in the little world she’s created around her characters, when bam! Awkward dialogue rears its ugly head. And it doesn’t happen once, or even twice, but quite often, and it makes reading her books difficult, because it pulls me out of the story to make me go, “People don’t really have conversations like that, do they?”
I had that issue a lot during this book. I also found the somewhat romance between Nick and Carolyn somewhat distracting and unnecessary. Fortunately, it becomes a back-burner plot point, and the plot stays focused on Carolyn’s need to find her brother.
You would think, that after reading five other MHC books, I would have gotten used to her characters, but I still haven’t. They’re still intangible, at least for me.
Despite its short length, it took me a while to read, and while I generally like the who-dun-its, I didn’t like this one.
Originally posted 25 February 2011.