We'll Meet Again

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About The Book

“The mistress of high tension” (The New Yorker) and undisputed Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark brings us another New York Times bestselling novel that she “prepares so carefully and executes with such relish” (The New York Times Book Review) about the murder of a respected doctor—and his beautiful young wife charged with the crime.

Dr. Gary Lasch, famous Greenwich, Connecticut doctor and founder of the HMO Remington Health Management, is found dead in his home, his skull crushed by a blow with a heavy bronze sculpture, and his wife, Molly, in bed covered with his blood. It was the Lasches’ housekeeper, Edna Barry, who made the grisly discovery the morning after Molly’s unexpectedly early return from Cape Cod, where she had gone to seclude herself upon learning of her husband’s infidelity. As the evidence against Molly grows, her lawyer plea-bargains a manslaughter charge to avoid a murder conviction.

Released from prison nearly six years later, Molly reasserts her innocence to reporters, among them an old school friend, Fran Simmons, an investigative reporter and anchor for a true-crime show. Molly convinces Fran to research and produce a program on her husband’s death. As hidden aspects of Gary Lasch’s life and the affairs of Remington Health Management come to light, is Fran herself the next target for murder?

Excerpt

Chapter One

Gus Brandt, executive producer for the NAF Cable Network, looked up from his desk at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. Fran Simmons, whom he'd recently hired as an investigative reporter for the six o'clock news hour and for regular assignments to his hot new True Crime program, had just entered his office.

"The word's in," he said excitedly. "Molly Carpenter Lasch is being paroled from prison. She gets out next week."

"She did get parole!" Fran exclaimed. "I'm so glad."

"I wasn't sure you'd remember the case. You were living in California six years ago. Do you know much about it?"

"Everything, actually. Don't forget, I went to Cranden Academy in Greenwich, with Molly. I had the local papers sent to me throughout the trial."

"You went to school with her? That's great. I want to schedule a full background story on her for the series as soon as possible."

"Sure. But Gus, don't think I have an inside track with Molly," Fran warned. "I haven't laid eyes on her since the summer we graduated, and that was fourteen years ago. At the same time I began U. Cal, my mother moved to Santa Barbara, and I lost touch with just about everybody in Greenwich."

There'd actually been many reasons for both her and her mother relocating to California, leaving Connecticut as far behind as memory would allow. On the day of Fran's graduation from the academy, her father had taken her and her mother out for a festive dinner of celebration. At the end of the meal he had toasted Fran's future at his alma mater, kissed both of them, and then, saying that he'd left his wallet in the car, he had gone out to the parking lot and shot himself. In the next few days the reason for his suicide became apparent. An investigation quickly determined that he'd embezzled $400,000 from the Greenwich Library Building Fund drive he'd volunteered to chair.

Gus Brandt knew that story already, of course. He'd brought it up when he came to Los Angeles to offer her the job at NAF-TV. "Look, that's in the past. You don't need to hide away out here in California, and besides, coming with us is the right career move for you," he'd said. "Everyone who makes it in this business has to move around. Our six o'clock news hour is beating the local network stations, and the True Crime program is in the top ten in the ratings. Besides, admit it: you've missed New York."

Fran almost had expected him to quote the old chestnut that outside New York it's all Bridgeport, but he hadn't gone that far. With thinning gray hair and sloping shoulders, Gus looked every second of his fifty-five years, and his countenance carried permanently the expression of someone who had just missed the last bus on a snowy night.

The look was deceptive, however, and Fran knew it. In fact, he had a razor-sharp mind, a proven track record for creating new shows, and a competitive streak second to none in the industry. With hardly a second thought, she'd taken the job. Working for Gus meant being on the fast track.

"You never saw or heard from Molly after you graduated?" he asked.

"Nope. I wrote her at the time of the trial, offering my sympathy and support, and got a form letter from her lawyer saying that while she appreciated my concern, she would not be corresponding with anyone. That was over five and a half years ago."

"What was she like? When she was young, I mean."

Fran tucked a strand of light brown hair behind her ear, an unconscious gesture that was an indication she was concentrating. An image flashed through her mind, and for an instant she could see Molly as she'd been at age sixteen, at Cranden Academy. "Molly was always special," she said after a moment. "You've seen her pictures. She was always a beauty. Even when the rest of us were still gawky adolescents, she was already turning heads. She had the most incredible blue eyes, almost iridescent, plus a complexion models would kill for and shimmering blond hair. But what really impressed me was that she was always so composed. I remember thinking if she met the pope and the queen of England at the same party, she'd know how to address them and in what order. And yet, the funny part was that I always suspected that, inside, she was shy. Despite her remarkable composure, there was something tentative about her. Kind of like a beautiful bird perched at the end of a branch, poised but ready at any second to take flight."

She'd glide across the room, Fran thought, remembering seeing her once in an elegant gown. She looked even taller than five eight because she had such gorgeous carriage.

"How friendly were you two?" Gus queried.

"Oh, I wasn't really in her orbit. Molly was part of the moneyed country club set. I was a good athlete and concentrated on sports more than on social activities. I can assure you my phone was never ringing off the hook on Friday night."

"As my mother would have put it, you grew up nice," Gus said dryly.

I was never at ease at the academy, Fran thought. There are plenty of middle-class families in Greenwich, but middle class wasn't good enough for Dad. He was always trying to ingratiate himself with wealthy people. He wanted me to be friends with the girls who came from money or who had family connections.

"Apart from her appearance, what was Molly like?"

"She was very sweet," Fran said. "When my father died and the news came out about what he had done -- the embezzling and the suicide and everything -- I was avoiding everyone. Molly knew I jogged every day, and early one morning she was waiting for me. She said she just wanted to keep me company for a while. Since her father had been one of the biggest donors to the library fund, you can imagine what her show of friendship meant to me."

"You had no reason to be ashamed because of what your father did," Gus snapped.

Fran's tone became crisp. "I wasn't ashamed of him. I was just so sorry for him -- and angry too, I guess. Why did he think that my mother and I needed things? After he died, we realized how frantic he must have been in the days just before, because they were about to audit the library fund's books, and he knew he'd be found out." She paused, then added softly, "He was wrong to have done all that, of course. Wrong to have taken the money and wrong to think we needed it. He was weak also. I realize now he was terribly insecure. But at the same time, he was an awfully nice guy."

"So was Dr. Gary Lasch. He was a good administrator too. Lasch Hospital has a top-drawer reputation, and Remington Health Management isn't like so many of the cockamamie HMOs that are going bankrupt and leaving patients and doctors high and dry." Gus smiled briefly. "You knew Molly and you went to school with her, so that gives you some insight. Do you think she did it?"

"There's no question that she did it," Fran said promptly. "The evidence against her was overwhelming, and I've covered enough murder trials to understand that very unlikely people ruin their lives by losing control for that one split second. Still, unless Molly changed dramatically after the time I knew her, she'd be the last person in the world I would have said was likely to kill someone. But for that very reason, I can understand why she might have blocked it out."

"That's why this case is great for the program," Gus said. "Get on it. When Molly Lasch gets out of Niantic Prison next week, I want you to be part of the reception committee welcoming her."

Copyright © 1999 by Mary Higgins Clark

Reading Group Guide

READING GROUP GUIDE
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION:
1) Mary Higgins Clark is wonderfully adept at using imagery to help readers create a detailed mental picture of a character. For example, Molly is described as looking like "a beautiful bird perched at the end of a branch, poised but ready at any second to take flight." (p. 15) Find and discuss another example of imagery used to fine-tune a character's external and internal identity.
2) Reread the scene in chapter eight where Fran is unpacking in her new apartment, and compare it to Molly's "homecoming" to Greenwich. How does each woman's different situation affect the way she handles the transition into her new life: the way she acts, thinks, feels, and even eats.
3) Molly's conviction in Gary's murder was originally due in large part to a rush to judge by the police, anxious to close their investigation. Do you think that police are often so anxious to solve a case that they zero in too quickly on one suspect? Do you think the police would have been able to spot the actual killer had they not assumed so quickly that Molly was guilty?
4) Discuss Fran's role as a reporter versus her role as Molly's friend. Does this "conflict of interest" compromise the integrity of Fran's reporting -- or does it spur her on to investigate even harder? Does a reporter who grows too close to her subject have an ethical responsibility to remove herself from the story?
5) One of the major clues in the mystery surrounding Gary's murder is the "clicking" noise that Molly recalls hearing the night he died -- a noise she comes closer and closer to identifying as the story progresses. This is just one example of how the author builds suspense throughout the novel. Discuss other ways in which the story is revealed in bits and pieces as Molly regains her memory, and how the author uses the device of amnesia to build suspense.
6) Many suspense novels are later adapted for television or the movies. Compare these different mediums and how the advantages and limitations of each one affects the way a story unfolds. For example, in what ways does the plot of We'll Meet Again differ from the storyline for a television show like "Murder She Wrote?" Which medium offers more ways to dramatize the story, add layers to the narrative, and build suspense?
7) Mary Higgins Clark offers a frightening glimpse of today's health-care system in crisis, underscoring the desire of some doctors to make important medical discoveries -- often at the expense of their patients. Do you think that illegal medical experimentation occurs in our hospitals on a widespread basis? Overall, are today's doctors more interested in making money than providing good medical care?
8) Molly Lasch, after her release from prison, decides to see the "other woman" in her husband's life, Annemarie Scalli. How do these two women relate to each other and what does Molly learn from Annamarie about her husband, as a man and as a doctor?
9) Did you find it puzzling that Fran is sympathetic to Molly even when she thinks Molly is guilty of murder? Is Fran more likely to show compassion to a person in trouble because of what happened to her father?
10) Mrs. Barry was deeply concerned that her son Wally might have killed Gary Lasch, but she told no one. Was her failure to report her suspicions the understandable reaction of a mother protecting her troubled son? Was it a criminal act? If Mrs. Barry had come forward at the time of the murder, do you think Wally would have been blamed for it? Or would her disclosure have forced the police to expand their investigation, perhaps enough to expose the real killer?
11) Discuss the unique dynamics of Cal and Jenna's marriage. Is there any real love between them, or are they together only because each possesses something that the other one needs? How does the constant play for power between them affect their relationship? Was this marriage destined to fail from the very start?
12) At the end of the novel the real killer is disclosed. Did the author hint throughout the narrative who the real killer was -- or did this plot twist come as a surprise? Discuss ways in which the author plants real clues, as well as "red herrings," to build a mystery that is solved only in the final pages.
13) Both Molly and Fran came face-to-face with tragedy -- and survived. How does each woman deal with the cards fate has dealt them? Who do you think is the stronger woman, and why? In what ways have the tragedies they have faced made them into the women they are today?
14) Discuss how the author uses secondary characters in pivotal roles that propel the story forward. Which of these characters affected the outcome of the story the most? Gladys the waitress? The busboy? Lou Knox?

About The Author

Photograph © Bernard Vidal

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark has written thirty-seven suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a historical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she has coauthored five more suspense novels, and also wrote The Cinderella Murder, All Dressed in White, The Sleeping Beauty Killer, and Every Breath You Take with bestselling author Alafair Burke. More than one hundred million copies of her books are in print in the United States alone. Her books are international bestsellers.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Pocket Books (April 2000)
  • Length: 384 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780671004569

Raves and Reviews

Booklist Clark is a master of suspense and an excellent storyteller. We'll Meet Again is first-rate entertainment.

The Daily Sun (Perry, GA) Mary Higgins Clark is one of those rare novelists whose books get better with each passing year. She is already one of the most beloved mystery writers of our generation and as such could coast along turning out pale imitations of her past hits. But not our Mary; she has to keep being more inventive and more entertaining with each new story she creates. Her latest is We'll Meet Again and it is one of her best....Find a comfortable chair and dive in. You owe yourself this pleasure.

Roanoke Times (VA) We'll Meet Again speeds along at an enjoyable breakneck pace....

The Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) Another page-turner....

Arvada Community News (Denver) This is Mary Higgins Clark at her finest and her millions of fans will love it.

The Florida Times-Union A fast, fun read....You'll be reading late into the night as you have with previous Mary Higgins Clark bestsellers.

Abilene Reporter-News (TX) When it comes to suspense, there's no writer today more capable of keeping the reader completely absorbed than Mary Higgins Clark. She does it again in We'll Meet Again.

The Indianapolis Star Clark is a longtime master of suspense....As with all Mary Higgins Clark books, the action is fast-paced, starting with the first page....An engaging plot...filled with the ingredients Clark's fans have come to love.

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