Pretend You Don’t See Her by Mary Higgins Clark
Review by Gerti
By now, I’ve gotten used to Mary Higgins Clark writing books based on old songs, but this is one song I’ve yet to look up on YouTube. It seems an odd title, though, for the story of realtor Lacey Farrell who goes into witness protection after seeing a murder at a client’s condo in New York City.
There is more wrong with this novel than just the title, however. One of the things that stands out early is that the killer, who uses a false name to get Lacey to show him a NYC apartment, allegedly steals the key to the place from the front hallway table there in order to come back and kill the owner. But after the murder, when Lacey shuts him out by locking the door, he somehow can’t open it to get back in, even though he has the key. Big continuity flaw.
I also dislike how stupid Lacey is in the novel. Through the witness protection program, the authorities move her from NYC to Minneapolis after she sees the killer’s face and they figure out from his prints that he’s a wanted mobster they thought was dead. But Lacey can’t help telling her ditzy mom where she has been moved to, even though she knows it threatens her own safety. She also can’t keep away from the things she did in New York – working in real estate and going to health clubs. It seems that would be Witness Protection 101, try to do different things in your new location, so you’re not so easy to track down. But Lacey follows old patterns, and with her loose lips, it’s no wonder the murderous mobster finds his way to Minnesota to finish the job by killing her.
I also disliked how she felt unable to make new relationships in her new town, afraid that she was putting them in danger. It seems odd that she is unwilling to put strangers in danger, when she seems to go out of her way to put herself in harm’s way. The only sensible thing she does is choose a fake name – Alice Carroll – this is similar to her real name, so she can remember and respond to it.
The back story in this novel – that actress Heather Landi’s mother never believed she died in a car accident, but that she was murdered, and that elderly lady confides in Lacey and gives her Heather’s journal – is interesting. But all of it seems far-fetched and strains credibility. I always like Clark’s writing, but this seems like one of her early writing efforts which could have used a few more read-throughs by a conscientious editor. Now the only mystery is the song…