"Ever since they began digging for the pool, he had known they might come across Martha's remains. He could only hope that the finger bone was still intact within the plastic shroud. But even if it wasn't, they were bound to find the ring...Of course it was too much to expect the medical examiner to realize that [they] had died exactly the same way...Sisters in death, one hundred and ten years apart."
America's "Queen of Suspense" is a description that is synonymous with Mary Higgins Clark for ample reasons --- twenty novels and three short story collections, a consistent appearance on bestseller lists, and an unflagging following of fans. Spring just wouldn't be the same without a new thriller to savor from Mary Higgins Clark. ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE is her latest novel and proof once again that her writing will never dissipate to the boilerplate level. The spectrum of social commentary that has formed the foundation for her writing is constantly expanding with each successive novel. In this story Ms.Clark explores another unique dimension, the element of reincarnation, a belief who's origins are centuries old.
Emily Graham, a young defense lawyer, buys an old Victorian home in the town of Spring Lake --- a home once owned by her ancestors and the site of a family tragedy. In 1891 her great-great-grand Aunt Madeline, age 19, disappeared from her front porch never to be seen again. Emily has always been intrigued by the family stories she's heard and is ecstatic when the house comes on the market. Reeling from a recent, bitter divorce and looking forward to a new job in nearby Manhattan, she's drawn to the community and the house itself, where she hopes to find solace and rebuild her life. But she's barely settled in before skeletons --- one recent and one that's 100 years old --- turn up in her own backyard and the past becomes inexplicably entangled in the present. When a police investigation uncovers a link between several missing young women from both centuries, the local residents not only fear they have a serial killer on the loose, but that he's a reincarnation of his evil predecessor.
Emily's fears are compounded when the killer begins to send her personal messages relating facts about the 19th century deaths that only the killer would have known. Friends and family fear she's become a target. To complicate matters, Emily had been hounded by a stalker in her former home town; he would leave photographs for her to find making it obvious he was watching her. She thought that part of her life had been resolved when a victim's son who obsessed over her winning a murderer's acquittal was institutionalized. But soon after she moves into her new house, the stalking begins again, and Emily is forced to face the reality that her life is in imminent danger from one, or possibly two, unknown people.
Whether you believe in the theory of reincarnation or not, it's intriguing stuff, and Ms. Clark handles the material with her usual evenhanded style. Presented through the device of a fictional psychologist who has made the study of reincarnation her life's work, readers are given small lessons in its history and some of the nuances that have a bearing on the storyline as it evolves. Is the killer the result of an evil reincarnated? Is Emily the reincarnation of her ancestor, Madeline? Readers will have to decide for themselves, but the end result is a highly entertaining thriller that just might provoke you to view your friends and family in a more speculative light.
Reviewed by Ann Bruns on April 17, 2001
On the Street Where You Live