REVIEW: YOU DON’T OWN ME, BY MARY HIGGINS CLARK/ALAFAIR BURKE

 

When we last saw Laurie Moran, she had recently become engaged to her show’s former host, Alex Buckley. Since then, the two have been happily planning a summer wedding and honeymoon, preparing for Alex’s confirmation to a federal judicial appointment, and searching for the perfect New York City home for their new life together.

But then Laurie is approached by Robert and Cynthia Bell, parents of Dr. Martin Bell, a famously charming and talented physician who was shot dead as he pulled into the driveway of his Greenwich Village carriage house five years ago. The Bells are sure that Martin’s disgraced and erratic wife, Kendra, carried out the murder. Determined to prove Kendra’s guilt and win custody over their grandchildren, they plead with Laurie to feature their son’s case on “Under Suspicion,” ensuring her that Kendra is willing to cooperate.

Kendra has lived under a blanket of suspicion since Martin’s death, with the tabloid media depicting her as a secretive, mentally unstable gold-digger. Laurie’s show is a chance for her to clear her name. But unbeknownst to the Bells, Kendra has already refused once before to go forward with a re-investigation of her husband’s murder, and her statements to the contrary only add to the appearance of guilt.

But once Laurie dives into the case, she learns that Martin wasn’t the picture-perfect husband, father, and doctor he appeared to be and was carrying secrets of his own. And what does the web of lies ensnaring the Bell family have to do with a dangerous stranger, who gazes at Laurie from afar and thinks, She is actually quite a lovely girl, I’m sure she’s going to be missed…?

 

My Thoughts: As Laurie Moran plans the next production of her TV show Under Suspicion, we are swept up amidst a cast of characters that will eventually help us decide the truth of a murder.

Just as we suspect, the facts begin to line up in one direction, and then suddenly veer off along a completely different path. Who is the man following Laurie, plotting her demise? What is going on between Kendra and a man she once met in a dive bar called the Beehive? Why is she taking bundles of cash from her ATM to hand over to him? Is she paying off a hit man, or is he up to something else?

It didn’t take long to figure out that the two strangers have nefarious connections to the case, but what are those connections? By the end, we are stunned to learn that the least likely person was behind most of what had happened.

My favorite parts of You Don’t Own Me were the occasional glimpses into the relationship between Alex and Laurie, and their quest for the perfect new post-wedding residence. Happily, they get to plan their new home once the case has been solved. A 5 star read.  (FIRST BOOK OF THE YEAR – 2019)

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