This was my first ever experience with a Mary Higgins Clark book, and I have to say, I was NOT disappointed! This story kept me on my toes the whole time. You know a book is good when even you are questioning the main characters sanity. The twists and turns are completely unexpected, and the creepy things that happened had goosebumps breaking out on my arms! If you've never read anything by this author, I recommend you start with this one!
The book's heroine is single mother of two, Jenny. She lives in New York City and works at an art gallery trying to make ends meet. You can tell Jenny adores her two girls, Beth, who is three, and Tina, who is two. Jenny's ex-husband, Kevin, is a struggling actor, and is always hitting Jenny up for money. He seems like a nice enough guy, but he just doesn't even try to take care of his children.
While working one day, Jenny meets esteemed artist, Erich Kruegar. They get acquainted while Jenny is admiring his painting of his mother, who has a strong resemblance to Jenny. Erich and Jenny share an instant connection and after a week he proposes, after a month they're married! Jenny has finally met the man of her dreams. Or has she?
Erich moves Jenny and her girls to his farm in Minnesota. The farm is beautiful, but Jenny would never have guessed the evil that lurked beneath the surface. Erich's mother, Caroline, had an accident on the farm resulting in her untimely death when he was only ten. Even though Caroline has been gone for nearly twenty five years, the house is just as she had it, not a thing out of place. Even Erich's childhood bedroom is still exactly as it was. It's as if Caroline herself is still there, her presence haunting the place.
Strange things start to happen around the house that have Jenny questioning her own sanity; bars of Caroline's favorite soap are left on the children's pillows, the children asking why mommy didn't talk to them when she came in their room last night, people around the farm saying they had seen her walking around the farm at night. Was she sleepwalking and just didn't know it, or was Caroline, in fact, haunting the place?
Jenny meets a few people on the farm, but it can be lonely, and she starts to feel that way after a while. Erich doesn't want her leaving the farm because he "doesn't want to share [her] yet." The only friends she has are the ones that she's made on the farm.
One is the a young guy that works on the ranch named Joe. Joe is a nice enough kid, but, according to Erich, he screws up a lot. Also, Joe's uncle is supposedly responsible for Caroline's death. She makes a fast ally with Joe, who ends up having a crush on her. Erich gets jealous because he holds a grudge against Joe's family, and he ultimately tells Jenny she can't talk to Joe anymore if he's not there.
Another friend she meets is Erich's best friend Mark. Mark seems to genuinely care about Jenny, and she feels comfortable when he's around. Mark may be Erich's best friend, but Jenny knows she can count on him just as much.
Lastly, there's Rooney. Rooney is the wife of the main ranch hand. Rooney's daughter, Arden, ran away years before, and everyone says it drove Rooney crazy. Erich tells her to watch out for Rooney because she can't be trusted. What he doesn't tell her is that Rooney and Caroline had been best friends. Ignoring Erich's warning about her, Jenny makes fast friends with Rooney anyway. Jenny notices that sometimes the older woman gets confused and starts babbling nonsense, but when Rooney starts talking about seeing Caroline walking around the farm, she can't ignore it.
Everyone starts questioning Jenny after all these strange things start happening, but Jenny knows it wasn't her. Even Erich starts making her feel like she's crazy. He's saying the strangest things and acting so different, and he's always disappearing for days at a time to this cabin in the woods. He goes there to paint, and no one is allowed there except him. Jenny starts questioning him, but immediately feels guilty. This is the man who she fell in love with, who took her and her two young children in and gave them a life of no worries. He would never do anything to harm her...Would he?
I highly recommend this book. If you love a good ghost story filled with suspense, you've found it! Just when you think you've got it all figured out there's a turn of events that leaves you suspecting something entirely different. The motives in this book are so twisted, but it'll keep you turning the pages for more. By the middle of the story, you'll be questioning you're own sanity! =)
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