No Place Like Home, p.1Mary Higgins Clark
THE QUEEN OF SUSPENSE
#1 New York Times
MARY HIGGINS CLARK
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
“Mary Higgins Clark’s awesome gift for storytelling has always been the secret of her strength as a suspense novelist. But let’s credit her as well for something more subtle—her intuitive grasp of the anxieties of everyday life that can spiral into full-blown terror. In [No Place Like Home], this canny writer . . . comes up with a cunning variation on the haunted-house theme.”
—The New York Times
NIGHTTIME IS MY TIME
“Creeping menace that is genuinely scary.”
—The New York Times
“Clark’s multitude of fans will be happy . . . to participate in the guessing game.”
THE SECOND TIME AROUND
“Clark keeps the chase lively throughout.”
“[Clark] knows how to spin an intriguing tale . . . she’s created a convincing heroine in Carley.”
“There’s something special about Clark’s thrillers . . . . Grace, charm, and solid storytelling.”
DADDY’S LITTLE GIRL
“A fast and fascinating read.”
—Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN)
“Her best in years . . . a tightly woven, emotionally potent tale of suspense and revenge . . . . With its textured plot, well-sketched secondary characters, strong pacing, and appealing heroine, this is Clark at her most winning.”
“Few stories of obsession will grab readers quite like this one.”
“The plot is classic Clark, except the author tells her story from a first-person perspective. She pulls it off well.”
—Star Ledger (NJ)
ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE
“Is a reincarnated serial killer at work in a New Jersey resort town more than a century after he first drew blood? That’s the catchy premise that supports [this] plot-driven novel.”
“A suspenseful page-turner that will delight her many fans.”
BEFORE I SAY GOOD-BYE
“Mary Higgins Clark knows what she’s doing . . . . This savvy author always comes up with something unexpected . . . . A hold-your-breath ending.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“For someone who loves plot, Mary Higgins Clark’s Before I Say Good-bye should be like manna from heaven . . . . [The] ‘Queen of Suspense’ clearly knows what her readers want. Here she provides it, in spades.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A smooth and easy read.”
—New York Post
“The storytelling skills of the newest grandmaster of mystery writing have never been better.”
—The Hartford Courant (CT)
“Clark holds the reins the whole way through this tale of mischief and secrets, allowing us to unwind her labyrinth of hidden clues only as she wants them to unfold.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
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‘Where are You Now?’ Excerpt
In joyful memory of
Annie Tryon Adams,
blithe spirit and dear friend
Last year, my friend Dorothea Krusky, who is a real estate agent, asked me if I knew about a New Jersey law that states that a real estate agent must inform a prospective buyer if the home he or she is considering carries a stigma that might cause psychological damage to the purchaser.
“Maybe there’s a book in it for you,” she suggested.
No Place Like Home is the result of that suggestion. Thank you, Dorothea.
I am so grateful to those wonderful people who are always there for me from the moment I begin to tell the story.
Michael Korda has been my friend and editor par excellence for three decades. Senior editor Chuck Adams has been a part of our team for the last dozen years. I am grateful to both of them for everything they do to guide this writer along the way.
My literary agents, Eugene Winick and Sam Pinkus, are true friends, good critics, and great supporters. I love them.
Dr. Ina Winick again has brought her psychological expertise to assist me with the manuscript in progress.
Dr. James Cassidy answered my many questions about the treatment of a traumatized child and how she would express her emotions.
Lisl Cade, my publicist and dear forever friend, is always there for me. Again and always, a tip of the hat to Associate Director of Copyediting Gypsy da Silva. Many thanks also to copy editor Anthony Newfield.
Barbara A. Barisonek of the Turpin Real Estate Agency gave generously of her time and knowledge in acquainting me with the history of Mendham and the technicalities of a real estate practice.
Agnes Newton, Nadine Petry, and Irene Clark are always in my corner for my literary journeys. And special thanks to Jennifer Roberts, business center associate at The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida.
Two books were of great assis
The special joy is that after the tale is told, it is time to celebrate with all the children and grandchildren, and of course, “Himself,” my ever-perfect husband, John Conheeney.
And now I hope you, my valued readers, will enjoy this book, and after reading it will agree that there really is no place like home.
Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one!
Ten-year-old Liza was dreaming her favorite dream, the one about the day when she was six years old, and she and Daddy were at the beach, in New Jersey, at Spring Lake. They’d been in the water, holding hands and jumping together whenever a wave broke near them. Then a much bigger wave suddenly rushed in and began to break right over them, and Daddy grabbed her. “Hang on, Liza,” he yelled, and the next minute they were tumbling under water and being thrown around by the wave. Liza had been so scared.
She could still feel her forehead slamming into the sand when the wave crashed them onto the shore. She had swallowed water and was coughing and her eyes were stinging and she was crying but then Daddy pulled her onto his lap. “Now that was a wave!” he said, as he brushed the sand from her face, “but we rode it out together, didn’t we, Liza?”
That was the best part of the dream—having Daddy’s arms around her and feeling so safe.
Before the next summer came around, Daddy had died. After that she’d never really felt safe again. Now she was always afraid, because Mom had made Ted, her stepfather, move out of the house. Ted didn’t want a divorce, and he kept pestering Mom, wanting her to let him come back. Liza knew she wasn’t the only one afraid; Mom was afraid, too.
Liza tried not to listen. She wanted to go back into the dream of being in Daddy’s arms, but the voices kept waking her up.
Someone was crying and yelling. Did she hear Mom calling Daddy’s name? What was she saying? Liza sat up and slid out of bed.
Mom always left the door to Liza’s bedroom open just a little so that she could see the light in the hall. And until she married Ted last year, she had always told Liza that if she woke up and felt sad, she could come into her room and sleep with her. Once Ted moved in, she’d never gotten in bed with her mother again.
It was Ted’s voice she heard now. He was yelling at Mom, and Mom was screaming. “Let go of me!”
Liza knew that Mom was so afraid of Ted, and that since he’d moved out she even kept Daddy’s gun in the drawer of her night table. Liza rushed down the hall, her feet moving noiselessly along the padded carpet. The door of Mom’s sitting room was open and inside she could see that Ted had Mom pinned against the wall and was shaking her. Liza ran past the sitting room and went directly into her mother’s bedroom. She hurried around the bed and yanked open the night table drawer. Trembling, she grabbed the gun and ran back to the sitting room.
Standing in the doorway, she pointed the gun at Ted and screamed, “Let go of my mother!”
Ted spun around, still holding on to Mom, his eyes wide and angry. The veins in his forehead were sticking out. Liza could see the tears streaming down her mother’s cheeks.
“Sure,” he yelled. With a violent thrust, he shoved Liza’s mother at her. When she crashed into Liza, the gun went off. Then Liza heard a funny little gurgle and Mom crumpled to the floor. Liza looked down at her mother, then up at Ted. He began to lunge toward her, and Liza pointed the gun at him and pulled the trigger. She pulled it again and again, until he fell down and then began crawling across the room and tried to grab the gun from her. When it wouldn’t fire anymore, she dropped the gun and got down on the floor and put her arms around her mother. There was no sound, and she knew her mother was dead.
After that Liza had only a hazy memory of what happened. She remembered Ted’s voice on the phone, the police coming, someone pulling her arms from her mother’s neck.
She was taken away, and she never saw her mother again.
TWENTY-FOUR YEARS LATER
I cannot believe I am standing in the exact spot where I was standing when I killed my mother. I ask myself if this is part of a nightmare, or if it is really happening. In the beginning, after that terrible night, I had nightmares all the time. I spent a good part of my childhood drawing pictures of them for Dr. Moran, a psychologist in California, where I went to live after the trial. This room figured in many of those drawings.
The mirror over the fireplace is the same one my father chose when he restored the house. It is part of the wall, recessed and framed. In it, I see my reflection. My face is deadly pale. My eyes no longer seem dark blue, but black, reflecting all the terrible visions that are leaping through my mind.
The color of my eyes is a heritage from my father. My mother’s eyes were lighter, a sapphire blue, picture perfect with her golden hair. My hair would be dark blond if I left it natural. I have darkened it, though, ever since I came back to the East Coast sixteen years ago to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. I am also taller than my mother was by five inches. Yet, as I grow older, I believe I am beginning to resemble my mother in many ways, and I try to distance myself from that resemblance. I have always lived in dread of someone saying to me, “You look familiar . . . ” At the time, my mother’s image was splashed all over the media, and still turns up periodically in stories that rehash the circumstances of her death. So if anyone says I look familiar, I know it’s her they have in mind. I, Celia Foster Nolan, formerly Liza Barton, the child the tabloids dubbed “Little Lizzie Borden,” am far less likely to be recognized as that chubby-faced little girl with golden curls who was acquitted—not exonerated—of deliberately killing her mother and trying to kill her stepfather.
My second husband, Alex Nolan, and I have been married for six months. Today I thought we were going to take my four-year-old son, Jack, to see a horse show in Peapack, an upscale town in northern New Jersey, when suddenly Alex detoured to Mendham, a neighboring town. It was only then that he told me he had a wonderful surprise for my birthday and drove down the road to this house. Alex parked the car, and we went inside.
Jack is tugging at my hand, but I remain frozen to the spot. Energetic, as most four-year-olds are, he wants to explore. I let him go, and in a flash he is out of the room and running down the hall.
Alex is standing a little behind me. Without looking at him, I can feel his anxiety. He believes he has found a beautiful home for us to live in, and his generosity is such that the deed is solely in my name, his birthday gift to me. “I’ll catch up with Jack, honey,” he reassures me. “You look around and start figuring how you’ll decorate.”
As he leaves the room, I hear him call, “Don’t go downstairs, Jack. We haven’t finished showing Mommy her new house.”
“Your husband tells me that you’re an interior designer,” Henry Paley, the real estate agent, is saying. “This house has been very well kept up, but, of course, every woman, especially one in your profession, wants to put her own signature on her home.”
Not yet trusting myself to speak, I look at him. Paley is a small man of about sixty, with thinning gray hair, and neatly dressed in a dark blue pinstriped suit. I realize he is waiting expectantly for me to show enthusiasm for the wonderful birthday gift my husband has just presented to me.
“As your husband may have told you, I was not the selling agent,” Paley explains. “My boss, Georgette Grove, was showing your husband various properties nearby when he spotted the FOR SALE sign on the lawn. He apparently fell in love with it immediately. The house is quite simply an architectural treasure, and it’s situated on ten acres in the premier location in a premier town.”
I know it is a treasure. My father was t
Ted pinning Mother against the wall . . .
Mother sobbing . . .
I am pointing the gun at him. Daddy’s gun . . .
Let go of my mother . . .
Sure . . .
Ted spinning Mother around and shoving her at me . . .
Mother’s terrified eyes looking at me . . .
The gun going off . . .
Lizzie Borden had an axe . . .
“Are you all right, Mrs. Nolan?” Henry Paley is asking me.
“Yes, of course,” I manage, with some effort. My tongue feels too heavy to mouth the words. My mind is racing with the thought that I should not have let Larry, my first husband, make me swear that I wouldn’t tell the truth about myself to anyone, not even to someone I married. In this moment I am fiercely angry at Larry for wringing that promise from me. He had been so kind when I told him about myself before our marriage, but in the end he failed me. He was ashamed of my past, afraid of the impact it might have on our son’s future. That fear has brought us here, now.
Already the lie is a wedge driven between Alex and me. We both feel it. He talks about wanting to have children soon, and I wonder how he would feel if he knew that Little Lizzie Borden would be their mother.
It’s been twenty-four years, but such memories die hard. Will anyone in town recognize me? I wonder. Probably not. But though I agreed to live in this area, I did not agree to live in this town, or in this house. I can’t live here. I simply can’t.
To avoid the curiosity in Paley’s eyes, I walk over to the mantel and pretend to study it.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Paley asks, the professional enthusiasm of the real estate agent ringing through his somewhat high-pitched voice.
“Yes, it is.”
“The master bedroom is very large, and has two separate, wonderfully appointed baths.” He opens the door to the bedroom and looks expectantly at me. Reluctantly, I follow him.
No Place Like Home by Mary Higgins Clark / Mystery & Detective / History & Fiction / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes