The attractive Dr. Susan Chandler, an assistant district attorney turned psychologist in her early thirties with her own popular advice radio show titled Ask Dr. Susan, is bringing in a new guest for today's episode. It is Dr. Donald Richards, a criminologist/psychologist who has come to Susan's show to discuss his new book, Vanishing Women, which focuses on a group of various real-life cases where women have disappeared over the years. On the show, Susan mentions the recent disappearance of Regina Clausen, an internationally known CNBC investments advisor who went missing soon-to-be four years ago when the Gabrielle, the cruise ship she had been on, stopped to port in Hong Kong. Susan requests that if anyone may have any information on Regina's disappearance, they should please call during the show's call-in segment.
During the call-in, most of the phone calls Susan receives are mundane. But finally, the last call is from a frightened woman who will only identify herself as "Karen," which she says is not her real name. Karen tells Susan and Donald that, a few years ago, she herself was approached by a man while on a worldwide cruise. Karen had been separated from her husband during that period because of his anger and jealousy. She almost got off the ship in Algiers with the man, to run away with him. All Karen still has of her mystery man is a gold band embedded with little turquoise stones and the sentimental inscription "You belong to me" on the inside of the band. Karen's case seems remarkably similar to Regina's, only Karen got away and returned to her contrite husband. Susan begs Karen to come to her office tomorrow, and she reluctantly complies.
But it is already too late for Karen, who turns out to be Carolyn Wells. For the man that Carolyn met on the cruise is indeed the same serial killer who murdered Regina, and some other women. The murderer heard Carolyn on Ask Dr. Susan, and he cannot allow her to give Susan any information that could reveal his true identity. Later, Carolyn changes her mind about going to Susan's office, and instead decides to mail the ring and the photo she has of the murderer. But too late for Carolyn... At a New York crossing crowded with pedestrians, he pushes poor Carolyn in front of a fast moving van without being seen. And Carolyn barely survives, in a coma.
The murderer can only hope that Carolyn never wakes up from her coma, at least not until after he has selected his final cruise ship victim and killed her as well. But Carolyn's attempted murder leads to a chain of deaths, and Susan becomes very suspicious, unfortunately for him. Susan decides to begin investigating, hoping to soon find the identity of Regina's killer, to give Regina's mother, Jane Clausen, some closure before she dies of cancer within short weeks. The events unfold, and suspects become clearer; he knows that sooner or later, Susan Chandler will need to be stopped before she can figure out who he is in time.
Mary Higgins Clark, "The Queen of Suspense," has written yet another great suspense novel. This prolific, often critically acclaimed author seems to never run out of brilliant ideas for her thrillers. As she sometimes does with her novel titles, Mary Higgins Clark has taken the words from a beloved old love song and twisted them into grotesque creepiness. This is no doubt, hands-down near the top of the list of my favorite Mary Higgins Clark mysteries. Susan is one of this author's better heroines, not too perfect or helpless, and there is some genuine upscale menace in the story. After reading You Belong to Me, many readers are sure to be wary of traveling on luxurious cruise ships ever again.