Little Free Libraries/Pretend You Don't See Her (Book Review)
This post is NOT a double entendre, but more of a double-thought post. See, the book I will be reviewing came from a Little Free Library that is located inside of my local mom & pop grocery store--especially during this time of social distancing, when I am out and about, I am trying to eat and shop local. I've been holding off a little bit on this post because I wanted to snap a photo of the little free library to go along with this--but, the last time I went to a big chain store (because I needed specific Mexican ingredients that the mom & pop grocer doesn't carry in order to make slow-cooked barbacoa...and it was AMAZING).
I have always been intrigued by the Little Free Libraries, and even contemplated starting one myself...but I live in Redneckville, and reasonably figured my books would be completely desecrated by people who didn't appreciate them. (That's no way to treat a book, people!) If you live in a more respectful community, and are interested in donating to one yourself, I suggest you start at the source to learn more about the movement: https://littlefreelibrary.org/faqs/. The pandemic, drawing me to places I don't normally patronize, introduced me to a wonderful little free library, wherein I found another solid novel from Mary Higgins Clark.
I've been a fan of her writing since I was a teen or young adult. I think my all-time favorite book of hers is All Around the Town. I was not disappointed with this book either. It's not the genre I read most often anymore, but once upon a time, I was completely strung out on psychological thrillers. (I prefer sci-fi and fantasy these days...)
So, I read Pretend You Don't See Her and it was a solid read that I give 4/5 stars for.
The story begins as Lacey, a real estate broker, is assigned to sell an apartment by her sleazy employer, and begins a friendship with the seller, Isabelle. Isabelle is selling her late daughter's apartment, and though her daughter's death is legally declared accidental, Isabelle is convinced it was murder.
As Lacey arrives to the apartment, where Isabelle currently lives, she witnesses Isabelle's murder and can identify the killer. The killer runs out of the complex and Lacey runs to Isabelle--Isabelle's dying words, as she is clutching her daughter's personal journal, is to give the journal directly to her ex-husband, her daughter's father, not to the authorities.
Lacey, wanting to honor her dying friend's wishes, absconds with the journal. She finds herself in mortal danger because of that decision, an attempt is made on her life--but the bullet hits her niece instead (who survives) and when she finally relinquishes the journal (after making a copy for Isabelle's ex-husband and for herself) to the police, she is put into witness relocation, where she needs to claim an entirely new identity and has minimal, supervised contact to the world she used to know. She gives up clues to her location to her family, and the killer is now seeking to destroy his only witness.
Meanwhile, things are complicated for Lacey in her new life as "Alice" in her new city. She falls in love, but can't reveal her true identity, so breaks off her new relationship. She makes additional blunders which clue the killer in on her new location, and can't shake the past enough to avoid them cropping up as issues for "Alice." Nor is she willing to let her past go, and by doing so puts herself and those she loves in danger.
...I'm just now realizing it's harder to write a review for mysteries and psychological thrillers because it is soooo easy to leave too many Easter eggs. So, I'll end my review there, and add that Mary Higgins Clark is such a well-rounded author that she seems to write her stories effortlessly. Most of her characters are well-defined, it wasn't hard to tell them apart, and the story kept me engaged throughout. It was an easy read--I read a chapter or two before we left for a road trip...but finished it during the road trip, about a day later. If my wimpy eyeballs can handle this book in a couple of days, you'll be flying through it, as well.
Keep in mind, it was written in 1997, so there is mention of a cell phone and email, but it was much harder to keep in touch before the smart phone, so there are things in the story that seem hard to swallow from the eyes of 2020 because they are just mainstream and easy to do now, whereas they were not so easy 23 years ago. Just keep in mind that normal people were not afforded the level of tech that we are today, and it will make more sense.