When Mariah Lyons returns to her family home, she finds her father, 77-year-old Professor Jonathan Lyons, dead and her mother, Kathleen, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, in the closet covered in blood and holding a gun. This is how Mary Higgins Clark begins THE LOST YEARS.
The professor, a Biblical scholar of some fame, believes he has found a parchment thought to be lost forever since the 15th century. If real, the document would belong to the Vatican. He confides in a few other scholars to see if they agree with him about its veracity, and they do. It is a letter thought to be written by Jesus Christ and stolen from the Vatican library.
"The cast of characters in THE LOST YEARS is large, and each member is distinctly drawn in the way only Mary Higgins Clark can create 'real' people on the page.... Clark has been labeled 'The Queen of Suspense,' and her latest confirms that she just might be."
As the narrative unfolds, Jonathan suspects that one of his closest colleagues may want to steal the parchment again and cash in. He expresses his concern to another of his close friends. Within days of this conversation, the Professor is dead. Since his wife was found with a gun in her hand, the question must be asked: Did she kill her husband in a jealous rage? She recently had been given photographs of Jonathan with another woman, Lillian Stewart. Despite her deep dementia, she has enough of her thought process left to understand that the two were a couple, and she is furious. She keeps repeating: “So much noise…so much blood.”
The family’s next-door neighbor, Lloyd Scott, is an attorney who is returning from a trip with his wife. They find that their house has been burgled, and yet he inserts himself into Kathleen’s “case” and becomes her lawyer.
Ironically, the document is now missing. Did Jonathan give it to someone to hide? Was it stolen? Was it somehow destroyed? These are just some of the questions that the police are asking. They believe that Kathleen is the killer and arrest her. She is sent to a psychiatric facility for evaluation, and hopefully the people treating her can find out if she shot her husband in the back of the neck.
But Mariah is absolutely certain that her mother would never hurt Jonathan, despite his tryst with Lillian. She believes that the person or persons who stole the parchment are responsible for the murder. She also is positive that her father gave the letter to someone he trusted in order to keep it safe. She’s right! Lillian has the letter in her safe deposit box, and when she is offered two million dollars for it, she agrees to sell it. A meeting with the purchaser is set up, and she takes the parchment with her to meet her nemesis.
Not too long after the killing, an eyewitness comes forward to tell the police that he saw the perpetrator running from the house with her/his face covered. This could be a clue to the reason why Kathleen keeps covering her face. Everyone thinks she does that due to her dementia, but it might mean she actually saw the murderer.
The cast of characters in THE LOST YEARS is large, and each member is distinctly drawn in the way only Mary Higgins Clark can create “real” people on the page. She also takes the reader on a journey through a tunnel that twists and turns and produces red herrings as well as legitimate clues. Clark has been labeled “The Queen of Suspense,” and her latest confirms that she just might be.
Reviewed by Barbara Lipkien Gershenbaum on April 5, 2012