One of the most horrendous fears parents harbor is the disappearance of their child. In Mary Higgins Clark's 30th novel, I'LL WALK ALONE, she uses this crime to tell the story of Alexandra "Zan" Moreland, a single mother and successful interior designer. When her son, Matthew, was three years old, he was taken while his babysitter slept on a blanket next to his stroller in Central Park. No sign of the boy ever appeared until his fifth birthday, when photos surface of "Zan" removing him from the carriage herself. Immediately the public turns against her. Even her ex-husband now believes she took Matthew and either secreted him away or killed him. Zan has another problem. Her identity is stolen, and someone is out not only to bankrupt her but to see that her life is ruined forever --- perhaps that she even dies.
With only her assistant in her corner, she vows to go ahead with the prospect of a gigantic project that will propel her into the spotlight. Since opening her own design firm, Zan has felt that her former boss, Bartley Longe, has turned against her with rabid hatred. She even believes that he is the one behind the kidnapping and possible murder of her child.
Zan begs the police (and anyone who will listen) to begin a full investigation into Longe's life to see if any trace of Matthew can be found. But she gets nowhere. A couple of friends introduce Zan to Father Aiden. When he re-examines the incriminating pictures carpeting the city, he begins to see Zan as an innocent woman. But was that really Zan in the photo? Did she have a psychotic break? She claims to remember almost nothing from the time Matthew was taken.
Never one to hold back in a page-turner, Mary Higgins Clark moves part of the story to an isolated farmhouse in the country. A nosy neighbor is very curious about the woman who rented the place for three months but paid a year in advance. Rebecca Schwartz, the real estate agent's best friend, decides to explore what is going on in that house. First she makes a "new neighbor" visit to deliver blueberry muffins. Then, when she's rebuffed, she decides to stake out the place. And her snooping pays off in unexpected ways.
I'LL WALK ALONE is one of Mary Higgins Clark's most suspenseful books. Fans and newcomers alike will find themselves staying up all night to find out what happens next. The author, who is now 83 years old and has no plans to retire, told a reviewer for the Wall Street Journal that she even "devised a fittingly macabre way to continue her legacy beyond the grave." She said, "I have instructions to put a big spiral notebook, a couple of pens and a glass of wine in the casket. And they'll do it."
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on April 25, 2011