Safeguarded by the federal witness protection program, a young woman unexpectedly falls in love and decides that she can no longer live a lie, embarking on a perilous odyssey into the past to reclaim her own identity. (Adventure & Suspense)."
This time (apart from a story which formally resembles any of Clark's detective novels like an egg resembles another egg), a reader has a chance to find out how such a thing as witness protection program works, in which a person (the heroine, realtor Lacey Farrell from New York) is given a whole new identity from the police in order to be protected from threatening deadly harm.
Despite some false clues Clark deliberately scatters throughout the story, "Pretend You Don't See Her" ranks among her most satisfying detective novels, along with "While My Pretty One Sleeps" and "Remember Me". But my personal favourite by her still remains "A Stranger Is Watching", a tale more psychological than detective, where a murderer is known from the beginning but that does not diminish the suspense. There, Clark got close to the best works of the queen of British psychology-crime fiction, Ruth Rendell.
"Queen of Suspense" Mary Higgins Clark writes about attractive, independent young women who are in peril. I always picture a young Jacqueline Smith playing all of her heroines. This novel is not one of her best. It is full to overflowing with a cast of forgettable characters meant to keep us guessing which one could be the villain. The plot unfolds at a snail's pace and is padded with minute and distracting details that lead nowhere. A new character, introduced in the last chapters, changes the outcome, which feels suddenly rushed and trite. Clark has written many nail-biting thrillers; Pretend You Don't See Her is not among them.
Lacey Farrell has a job she enjoys, selling real estate in her beloved New York City. When the apartment of a singer who had died in a car accident is put on the market, Lacey is glad for the opportunity to sell it. After all, it's in a great part of Manhattan, the asking price is six hundred thousand dollars, and it's sure to earn her a decent commission. She becomes friends with the late singer's mother, and one night as she goes to pay her a visit, she also unwillingly becomes a witness to her murder. Unfortunately, the killer sees Lacey as well, and she's then forced to join the witness protection program, where she struggles to make a new life for herself, constantly watching over her shoulder on the off-chance that the murderer may have finally caught up with her.
PRETEND YOU DON'T SEE HER kept me turning pages well into the night. I finished it quickly, as I found the fast paced writing style enjoyable. The characterization was intriguing. I genuinely liked Lacey, who came across as courageous, caring and altogether realistic. Her genuine feelings for her family and her attraction and unwillingness to lie to a man she met while in the witness protection program made her even more endearing. I found myself wishing that the relationship between her and Tom had been more detailed, but that's what I get for reading a mystery novel rather than a romance!
This was my first experience with one of Mary Higgins Clark's books, and it certainly won't be the last. She's indeed just as talented as her reputation led me to believe, and I look forward to reading more of her work.