From America’s Queen of Suspense and #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a gripping tale of a young woman trying to unravel the mystery of a family tragedy—a quest with terrifying repercussions.
It has been ten years since twenty-one-year-old Charles MacKenzie Jr. (“Mack”) went missing. A Columbia University senior, about to graduate and already accepted at Duke University Law School, he walked out of his apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side without a word to his college roommates and has never been seen again. However, he does make one ritual phone call to his mother every year: on Mother’s Day. Each time, he assures her he is fine, refuses to answer her frantic questions, then hangs up. Even the death of his father, a corporate lawyer, in the tragedy of 9/11 does not bring him home or break the pattern of his calls.
Mack’s sister, Carolyn, is now twenty-six, a law school graduate, and has just finished her clerkship for a civil court judge in Manhattan. She has endured two family tragedies, yet she realizes that she will never be able to have closure and get on with her life until she finds her brother. She resolves to discover what happened to Mack and why he has found it necessary to hide from them. So this year when Mack makes his annual Mother’s Day call, Carolyn interrupts to announce her intention to track him down, no matter what it takes. The next morning after Mass, her uncle, Monsignor Devon MacKenzie, receives a scrawled message left in the collection basket: “Uncle Devon, tell Carolyn she must not look for me.”
Reading Group Guide
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Where Are You Now? Mary Higgins Clark Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. Carolyn has a dream about Mack, “following a shadowy figure who was walking across a bridge. . . . I heard him calling me, his voice mournful and troubled. Carolyn, stay back, stay back.” (6) What do you think this dream means? Why must Carolyn “stay back?” What does the bridge symbolize?
2. What role does media exposure play in Mack and Leesey’s cases? Does the media help or hinder the investigation? The killer freely admits, “I like the headlines.” (111) Why does he crave media attention? What steps does he take to keep Leesey and Mack in the headlines?
3. Aaron Klein observes, “Elliott can’t mention Olivia MacKenzie’s name without getting stars in his eyes.” (56) Do you think Elliott genuinely loves Olivia, or is his affection another part of his false identity? Explain your answer.
4. Carolyn confides in Nick about her mother, “Mack was always her favorite. He did everything right. I’m too impulsive for Mom’s taste.” (194) Do you think Carolyn is right about her mother’s preference? How does this belief fuel her determination to find Mack?
5. Chapter 21 reveals the mind of the serial killer for the first time. What does the murderer’s perspective add to the novel?
6. Carolyn carefully chooses her outfits throughout her investigation. In Martha’s Vineyard, for example, “I didn’t want to seem either overdressed or too casual. I wanted no sense of being Mack’s little sister when I saw Barbara.” (228) Why are appearances important to Carolyn? How are they crucial to Elliott, too?
7. Why does Barbara hide her son’s paternity? Do you find her motives selfish or reasonable? After confronting Barbara about Mack’s son, Carolyn and Olivia agree “to wait until he is older to tell him the truth.” (288) Why do they consent to Barbara’s request? What is the appropriate age for this revelation?
8. Carolyn reveals at the end of the novel, “Nick and I were married three months ago.” (289) How are Nick and Carolyn compatible? What, if anything, makes them an unlikely couple? Do you think Olivia MacKenzie approves of her new son-in-law? Why or why not?
9. While you were reading, who was your first suspect in Leesey’s kidnapping? Did you switch to a different suspect over the course of the novel? Were you surprised when the murderer—and his uncle—were finally revealed?
10. “Love or money . . . That’s what Lucas Reeves said were the causes of the majority of crimes.” (265) What is the cause of the crimes in Where Are You Now?—love or money? Or both?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Mary Higgins Clark reveals how she gets her ideas: “I read an article in a newspaper or magazine, and for some reason it sticks in my mind.” (vii) Find an unsolved mystery in the newspaper and answer the same three questions Mary Higgins Clark asks herself: “Suppose? What if? Why?” Share an imaginary plot surrounding your chosen mystery with your book club!
2. Print a copy of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29, which Mack recites on tape for his acting class with Esther Klein. Read the sonnet aloud to your book group and discuss your interpretations. The sonnet can be found here: http://www.bartleby.com/70/50029.html.
3. Get inspired by Leesey Andrews, who loves to dance, and take your book club to a local bar or club that features live music. Dance the night away, but don’t get into a stranger’s SUV at the end of the night!
4. On a map of New York City, plot some of the sites from Where Are You Now?—Sutton Place, West End Avenue, Thompson Street, 104th and Riverside, and the district attorney’s office at 1 Hogan Place.
5. Check out the real estate section of the newspaper and discuss the local market with your book club. Is it a good time to buy up properties, as Derek Olsen did in the 1960s, or to sell them off, as he does at the end of the novel?
The #1 New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark wrote over forty suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a historical novel, a memoir, and two children’s books. With bestselling author Alafair Burke she wrote the Under Suspicion series including The Cinderella Murder, All Dressed in White, The Sleeping Beauty Killer, Every Breath You Take, You Don’t Own Me, and Piece of My Heart. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, she coauthored five suspense novels. More than one hundred million copies of her books are in print in the United States alone. Her books are international bestsellers.