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Retro Reading: Where Are the Children? By Mary Higgins Clark

Updated on June 1, 2016

There aren't that many things I can remember from 1975. I do remember camping (in a trailer) and asking my mom to buy a book for me to read. With all the hype surrounding Where Are the Children? I wanted to read it.

It was difficult at first and then I set it aside for awhile. My next shot at trying to read it came a few months later during study hall in school. From what I remember, it was a dreary Friday in the fall (or possibly early winter) but I had a hard time reading since one of my friends kept whispering, "Where are the children?" which became etched into your brain, thanks to the numerous commercials for the book.

I can't say whether or not I actually liked the book once I had read it, but, like with everything there are times when you need a fix of something and my fix happened to be wanting to re-read this book.

Nancy Harmon has bared four children. In a previous marriage, she had two children which were murdered and Nancy was the prime suspect. After being acquitted, she leaves California and begins a new life in Cape Cod.

On this dreary day seven years later, Nancy's new children, Michael and Missy, are anxiously planning her birthday celebration. The kids want to surprise her and she does receive a surprise.

After letting the kids out to play in the backyard, she opens up the newspaper and sees a picture of herself along with an accompanying story about the murders of her other two children, Peter and Lisa.

Frantic, she races to find Michael and Missy gone. Left behind is one of Missy's mittens.

Thus begins the search for the missing children and the horrible truths that turn Nancy's birthday into a real surprise.

While billed as a thriller, I'm not really sure how to categorize it. Yes, there are times when it is suspenseful, but I felt as though I were being let down an awful lot. When the page turning starts, it seems to suddenly stop.

At the time of publication, it was also controversial touching on pedophilia (I think novels at that time were trying to be a little controversial) and while the children are in danger, more suspense could have come from this portion alone. I think I had more questions as to what prompted the abductor and what the intentions were. This slight angle would truly have added much more suspense.

The story itself is entertaining and moves at a somewhat snails pace with occasional excitement. Other than that, I think we've all become too familiar with this happening in real life. It's good escapism for possible beach reading.

Sometimes when you get a fix, it always doesn't turn out the way you had wanted.


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    • Eric Tuchelske 1 profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Tuchelske 

      9 months ago from Detroit

      One of the worst books that I read about two years ago (I think) was Sunstroke and the author mentions the case WATC is based on. If I remember correctly, the main character has a meeting at a hotel where a movie is being filmed and it revolves around the actual case. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the actual events of the case and only knew of it in the prologue for the 25th anniversary edition.

    • The Dirt Farmer profile image

      Jill Spencer 

      9 months ago from United States

      To me this book is more character-driven than the other books I've of hers, which seem more plot-driven. I also thought it more literary rather than commercial, although I know it was her first commercial success. Thanks for the review and the walk down memory lane. --Jill

    • profile image


      2 years ago

      While I find your comments on this book somewhat interesting, I'm going to make an assumption that the second reading was colored by the first attempt and that your first attempt was biased by your age. This being the case, I'm not surprised you found the book lacking. I also remember 1975 but I was long past my mother choosing my reading material for me. I not only read this book but found it suspenseful, a bit disconcerting, and very entertaining. I have also read every other book Mary Higgins Clark has written since then. Considering her success over the past 40 years I don't think I'm the only one who feels this way.


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