Countless members of at least one generation of crime fiction fans can trace their initial obsession with the genre back to Where Are the Children? by Mary Higgins Clark. That novel is an indisputable classic that has not only delighted even finicky readers but also has long served as inspiration for other writers of domestic suspense, thrillers, and traditional mystery, not to mention many other works—both crime fiction and beyond—that center everyday female characters in exciting, yet plausible, high-stakes dilemmas. The fact that forty-eight years after it first appeared we are finally getting a sequel to this iconic work should thrill readers of our beloved genre. Worried fans can rest assured that Mary Higgins Clark’s legacy is in good hands with frequent collaborator, Alafair Burke. Where Are the Children Now? is not only a worthy follow-up to a venerable classic, but also a reminder that our past can sometimes feel fresh when examined from the correct vantage point and treated with honesty and respect.
Where Are the Children Now? continues the story of the Harmon family by focusing on a new development in the life of Melissa Harmon, one of the two siblings who was abducted in the earlier novel. Melissa has recently married a widower who is raising his young daughter, Riley. Together, this seemingly happy couple are determined to build a stable and loving home despite some reservations from their families. Melissa has a career as a lawyer and runs a popular true crime podcast, much to the chagrin of her brother, Mike, who is not sure that Melissa has properly dealt with the trauma of the abduction that tainted their childhoods. Meanwhile, their mother, Nancy, has decided it is time to relocate to be closer to her children, adding another layer of stress to Melissa and Charlie’s “honeymoon” phase. It seems that history is going to repeat itself when Riley suddenly goes missing and Melissa and Charlie find themselves in the crosshairs of the police investigation.
This is really all readers need to know to once again become consumed by the world created by Mary Higgins Clark (and now, Alafair Burke). Exactly how this co-writing process worked is irrelevant when the final product feels as authentic as Where Are the Children Now? does. This new novel uses Clark’s trademark style of employing multiple narrators (in third person) to slowly unspool a complex and well-plotted tale of crime. In the wrong hands, this style can seem dated and old fashioned, but here it serves to elevate the work to the level of the original—now classic—novel it will undoubtedly be compared to. There are countless allusions to the earlier work that will assure fans they are in safe hands—comfortable in knowing not only is this sequel not going to tarnish their memories of that earlier book, but that in many ways it will serve to enhance those recollections and reinforce our devotion to Mary Higgins Clark and her vast legacy.
The original Where Are the Children? is clearly a product of its time, so while Mary Higgins Clark was most definitely on the cutting edge of crime fiction at the time, the book does gloss over some of the deeper psychological and physical impacts resulting from such a horrific abduction. With Where Are the Children Now? modern reader’s expectations and desires for a deeper dive into those topics—without straying into tabloid territory—are rewarded as the long-standing effects on Melissa, Mike, and Nancy are examined with understanding and compassion. And yet, as the plot unfolds, readers are given a front-row seat, witnessing how even with our advancements in technology and investigation some aspects and assumptions have hardly changed at all.
Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke’s Where Are the Children Now? hits the sweet spot between nostalgia and innovation. This work stands proud both because of the inheritance bestowed by its predecessor as well as the novelty granted upon it with modern sensibilities and new insight. Loyal crime fiction readers will not want to miss out on experiencing Where Are the Children Now? for themselves.
BUY LINKS: Where Are the Children Now? by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke
Disclaimer: An early galley of this title was provided to BOLO Books by the publisher. No promotion was promised and the above is an unbiased review of the novel.