My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I need to start by saying I have been reading MH Clark’s books since I was a teenager way back in the eighties, when computers were the size of small houses, Ronald Reagan was president, electric typewriters were fashionable, and photographs had to be developed to be seen (unless you had a slide projecter or viewfinder…uhh… S.O.S… what the hell is she talking about)? Anyway, libraries were still libraries and books were still books, then, and I read a lot of them in my alligator tee shirts drinking grape koolaid with a Canadian penny zippered inside the pocket on my sneakers. And all of her books I read were gripping, suspenseful, amazing!
Then I found this one a quarter century later, part of a Reader’s Digest collection of four, while watching my clothes spin in the dryer at the laundromat down the street. They have books lined up on a ledge which runs along the washers, and it’s give-a-book, take-a-book. So I took it and devoured it in a few days. Sadly the plot and characters and everything felt very rushed, almost like it was an outline for a much larger and longer work she didn’t have time to write.
The setup was interesting, all the players moving in and around an old mansion which had been taken apart stone by stone and transported to New Jersey from Wales and re-assembled on 50 acres just a few miles from Manhattan. And the haunting memory of someone who disappeared there. Someone who died there. And someone else who disappeared. Intriguing! Old money, New York City. Ambassadors, landscape artists, drunks, addicts, art thieves, and shady personal attendants fill the pages.
Sadly the book did not live up to its potential.
Ironic it was a stone’s throw from my spin cycle.
I know MH Clark has so much talent and I cannot end there, on a sour note, after having picked her up again. I decided I am gonna go back to her first bestseller she wrote in 1975 and read that one. I probably read it already, back when a trash compactor was your foot inside the bag, when Coleco and Atari were the gamer’s games, but I want that old feeling back, when I was gripped by suspense and she had me, amazed.