From Mary Higgins Clark, America's best-selling "Queen of Suspense," comes a dark and chilling story of murder, and its effects years later on the man convicted of the crime and the woman who helped convict him. It is a novel that takes the reader to the heights of suspense while exploring the depths of the criminal mind.
Ellie Cavanaugh was only seven years old when her fifteen-year-old sister, Andrea, was murdered near their home in Oldham-on-the-Hudson, a rural village in New York's Westchester County. There were three suspects: Rob Westerfield, nineteen-year-old scion of a wealthy, prominent family, whom Andrea has been secretly dating; Paul Stroebel, a sixteen-year-old schoolmate, who had a crush on Andrea; and Will Nebels, a local handyman in his forties.
It was Ellie who had led her parents to a hideout in which Andrea's body was found -- a secret hideaway in which she met her friends. And it was Ellie who was blamed by her parents for her sister's death for not telling them about this place the night Andrea was missing. It was also Ellie's testimony that led to the conviction of the man she was firmly convinced was the killer. Steadfastly denying his guilt, he spent the next twenty-two years in prison.
When he comes up for parole, Ellie, now an investigative reporter for an Atlanta newspaper, protests his release. Nonetheless, the convicted killer is set free and returns to Oldham. Determined to thwart his attempts to whitewash his reputation, Ellie also returns to Oldham, intent on creating a Website and writing a book that will conclusively prove his guilt. As she delves deeper into her research, however, she uncovers horrifying and heretofore unknown facts that shed new light on her sister's murder. With each discovery, she comes closer to a confrontation with a desperate killer.
Gripping and relentlessly compelling, Daddy's Little Girl, a portrayal of a family shattered by crime, reflects Mary Higgins Clark's uncanny insight into the twisted mind of a killer and is further evidence of why she is America's favorite author of suspense.
Writing in the first person a rarity for this veteran author has inspired and energized Clark. Her 21st novel of intrigue is her best in years, a tightly woven, emotionally potent tale of suspense and revenge. Clark's new heroine is Atlanta investigative journalist Ellie Cavanaugh, who was seven when her sister, Andrea, 15, was beaten to death by 20-year-old Rob Westerfield, scion of the wealthiest family in a small Westchester town. Now Westerfield is up for parole, so Ellie, now 30, returns home to speak out against him. When Westerfield is released, Ellie begins to write a book aimed at re-proving his guilt. Digging for evidence, she uncovers clues that Westerfield may have committed another murder as a youth, but that digging also enrages the Westerfields and other town members who think the man was railroaded. Before long, Ellie's life is in danger, as someone breaks into the house she's staying in, then later sets fire to it, nearly killing her, and as Westerfield himself begins to shadow her moves. What makes this novel work isn't only the considerable tension Clark teases from Ellie's precarious position, but the thoughtful backgrounding to the action. Ellie is cast as a lonely woman, without a lover and estranged from her father and half-brother: will she accept one or the other into her guarded life ; and she carries a heavy load of guilt for her sister's death, wondering at times if she is blinded by her thirst for vengeance. With its textured plot, well-sketched secondary characters, strong pacing and appealing heroine, this is Clark at her most winning. (On sale, Apr. 16) Forecast: One million first printing; main selection of the Literary Guild and BOMC, the Doubleday Book Club and Doubleday Large Print, and the Mystery Guild; all that, plus a fabulous green-toned jacket featuring a blood-stained locket on the front and a terrific photo of Clark on the back, add up to #1 with a bullet. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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Simon & Schuster
March 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Daddy's Little Girl by Mary Higgins Clark
When Ellie awoke that morning, it was with the sense that something terrible had happened.
Instinctively she reached for Bones, the soft and cuddly stuffed dog who had shared her pillow ever since she could remember. When she'd had her seventh birthday last month, Andrea, her fifteen-year-old sister, had teased her that it was time to toss Bones in the attic.
Then Ellie remembered what was wrong: Andrea hadn't come home last night. After dinner, she had gone to her best friend Joan's house to study for a math test. She had promised to be home by nine o'clock. At quarter of nine, Mommy went to Joan's house to walk Andrea home, but they said Andrea had left at eight o'clock.
Mommy had come back home worried and almost crying, just as Daddy got in from work. Daddy was a lieutenant in the New York State Police. Right away he and Mommy had started calling all of Andrea's friends, but no one had seen her. Then Daddy said he was going to drive around to the bowling alley and to the ice cream parlor, just in case Andrea had gone there.
"If she lied about doing homework until nine o'clock, she won't set foot out of this house for six months," he'd said angrily, and then he'd turned to Mommy: "If I said it once, I've said it a thousand times -- I don't want her to go out after dark alone."
Despite his raised voice, Ellie could tell that Daddy was more worried than angry.
"For heaven's sake, Ted, she went out at seven o'clock. She got to Joan's. She was planning to be home by nine, and I even walked over there to meet her."
"Then where is she?"