Where Are the Children?

by Mary Higgins Clark

Paperback, 1992




Pocket (1992), 290 pages


Fiction. Literature. Suspense. HTML:The #1 New York Times bestselling author and Queen of Suspense launched her career with this classic thriller following a woman whose past holds a terrible secret. Nancy Harmon long ago fled the heartbreak of her first marriage, the macabre deaths of her two little children, and the shocking charges against her. She changed her name, dyed her hair, and left California for the windswept peace of Cape Cod. Now remarried, she has two more beloved children, and the terrible pain has begun to heal�??until the morning when she looks in the backyard for her little boy and girl and finds only one red mitten. She knows that the nightmare is beginning again


½ (455 ratings; 3.6)

Media reviews

Nancy Harmon, joven casada y madre de dos hijos, es acusada injustamente del asesinato de los pequeños, pero el fiscal debe retirar los cargos tras la desaparición del único testigo. La pesadilla se vuelve más aterradora cuando el marido de Nancy se suicida y ella, destrozada, se traslada a
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Cape Cod. En su nueva residencia, Nancy conoce a Ray Eldredge, con quien se casa. Nancy da a luz nuevamente a dos hijos, a quienes cuida con exagerada precaución. Cierto día los niños desaparecen, y la culpabilidad recae,una vez más, en Nancy. Además alguien envía al periódico local información sobre los terribles sucesos de su pasado, así como fotografías recientes de Nancy...
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User reviews

LibraryThing member Becky_McKenna
My Rating: Three & 1/2 Stars

This was actually really, really good for a debut novel. Considering the subject matter, it clearly demonstrates that Mary Higgins Clark was ahead of her time when she wrote the book in 1975. I can see why it was a real standout; the shocking, suspense-filled thriller
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must've had everyone talking. Compared to present-day novels, Where Are The Children? is still a very good mystery. It aged well, but I did have a few problems that kept it from being a standout experience.

First, I had a difficult time connecting to the characters. It wasn't really until the very end that I even remotely liked Nancy. It helped once I understood what had happened to her, but then I struggled with her sudden turn around from the meek reclusive woman, to the She-Cat of Cap Cod. Anyway, I still enjoyed watching the transition and was able to suspend belief just because Nancy deserved something positive. I'm mean...c'mon...she'd been through enough. Who am I to rain on her "I am woman, hear me roar!" parade? Mom's do get a little crazy when it comes to protecting their babies. I would know.

Also, I had to struggle to make myself keep reading during the first half of the book. There was too much predictability and the dialogue was just boring. Granted, it's Clark's first novel and my first time to read her work...take it with a grain of salt. Maybe I was just sleepy or something.

I did like the overall plot of the story and the way multiple sub-plots all came together in the end. It's not a terribly long novel, either, so pick it up and give it a try! I'll be picking up one of her recent books soon as I'm super eager to see how the Queen of Suspense has grown in her writing over the years!
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LibraryThing member DVerdecia
This book started off so well. And then, predictable and stupid towards the end. Why did it start off so well? The villan came across as a true villan should. Cold, manipulative, strategic and he was executing his plan to the letter. Then about midway through the book, the stupidity started to set
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in. All of a sudden he could no longer predict the future. He could not stay one step ahead of the good guys. He started making mistakes. This, all for a crime he was duplicating, repeating.

This is the story of Nancy Harmon (aka Nancy Eldridge)who is running from her past. Apparently she was caught up in a legal mess after being prosecuted for the death of her first two children under her first marriage to Carl Harmon. She simply lost her childeren to have them wash up in San Francisco Bay. So she decides to move east to escape the pressure and the publicity as her trial was labeled a Mis-Trial because of a lack of a witness that ran away. So she moves to Cape Cod and 7 years later she is re-married to Ray Eldridge and has two additional children.

It all started on her birthday where she read the front page news about her trial 7 years ago, and the article having detailed pictures that identified her to have her relive the nightmare of 7 years past. Did she kill her children? Did someone else do it?

As I said in my opening, this book turned out totally stupid. Suspensful? To some degree but then you reflect and you wonder how Mary Higgins Clark got away with writing this stuff.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
The story involves an innocent woman, Nancy Harmon, who was at one point convicted of the murder of her two young children and sentenced to the gas chamber in California. Released on a technicality, the key witness had disappeared so she couldn't be retried. She dyed and cut her hair, changed her
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name, moved to Cape Cod and married and had two more children. And now, the secret of her true identity has come to light in her new community and her five-year-old son Michael and three-year-old daughter Missy have disappeared.

As a rule, if I get through an entire book and don't want to hurl it at the wall, I give it at least three stars, but somehow I don't want to give this book so much credit. It's pretty short, about 65,000 words or so, and being written at a grade school level really in syntax and vocabulary pages do fly by before you know it, and I read this in a few hours and not once did I slow to savor a nice piece of writing or want to speed up because I found it at all suspenseful. I found the prose pretty pedestrian.

Predictable is what I found the plot. In an introduction, the author says her inspirations included Agatha Christie and Josephine Tey, but she doesn't have their ability to keep me guessing or deliver a jaw-dropping twist. (Or their witty prose and ability to write memorable characters.) I think that's at least partly because the central mystery involves events years in the past and across the country, which means given the little we're told, I knew by 15 pages in that the kidnapper of the children could be one of only two possibilities, and by 20 pages in guessed which of the two was probably guilty--and the nature of the "twist" and I was right. Even though this isn't a terrible novel, I can't even really recommend this as an airplane or beach read. Just too meh.
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LibraryThing member macnan
Quick, easy read, enjoyed it.
LibraryThing member tricia35
It was a quick easy read! I really enjoyed this book.
LibraryThing member midkid88
A women's life starts repeating when her two children go missing, just like they did in her first marriage when they were murdered. She can't believe the nightmare is starting all over again. As always, Clark did a wonderful job with this book, I just didn't like the fact that the children were
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LibraryThing member LisMB
I enjoy Mary Higgins Clark mysteries and this one was another enjoyable read. note, this one is creepy
LibraryThing member frozenplums
Years and years ago Nancy's two young children were brutally murdered, and she only narrowly escaped charges. Now, years later, she's established a new life for herself, with a new look, new name, and a new family. Until one day, the children go missing...

Yet another M. H. Clark book I think
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parents will appreciate (or find horror in) more. This was an okay book (and fortunately shorter than her typical novels), but I wasn't particularly grabbed by it. The unfolding events were plausible I suppose, but the elements of this book that I enjoyed I feel Clark has employed much more enjoyably in some of her other works.
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LibraryThing member SweetbriarPoet
This was a horrible book- just drivel. Sorry, MHC, you seem like an awesome person, but this book sucked and I will probably never read anything by you ever again. If you're going to switch the perspectives of characters willy nilly in the middle of paragraphs, at least make it understandable.
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There's just so much to say....but it's not even worth it. Good God, MHC. *Face/palm*
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LibraryThing member lkmuir
Here is the novel that established Clark as one of today's most phenomenally successful authors. After a terrible marriage and the tragic deaths of her two children, Nancy changes her name, hair, and residence and finally finds peace--until the nightmare begins again.
LibraryThing member aprildt
Her first mystery, I believe. Thrilling, chilling! It kept my attention, even though I have read it many times before. Well-written, believable characters. I enjoy her older works the most. This mystery is about a woman who has fled her past, and an accusation of murdering her children, to start a
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new life in New England. She marries again, has two more children, and life is getting back to normal. Until she goes outside to fetch her children from their playtime one morning, only to discover they are missing.
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LibraryThing member weird_O
[Where Are the Children?] was the first "suspense" novel written by Mary Higgins Clark, who is, I gather, at the age of 88 the Queen of Suspense Novelists. (It's the first of her books I've read.) ...Children? was three years in the writing, earned Clark a $3,000 advance, and surged to the top of
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best seller lists when it was published in 1975. Her bibliography comprises more than 50 titles.

I was challenged to read this novel by a syllabus for a lit course, English 102--Literary Analysis I: Prose Fiction, taught by David Foster Wallace. The required reading included books by Thomas Harris, Larry McMurtry, James Ellroy, and Stephen King along with this Clark book.

The story: Nancy Eldredge is an attractive wife and mother (two young children, Michael, 5, and Missy, 3) living in Adams Port on Cape Cod. It is her birthday, and her husband Ray, a realtor, insists that the family celebrate it for the first time ever. Ray heads off to work, and Nancy bundles their kids in warm coats and mittens and sends them out to play in the back yard. Making coffee, she peruses the local newspaper. An article about a California murder case, in which a young mother was tried and convicted of murdering her two small children. Freed on appeal, the mother escaped retrial because the star witness vanished. The article speculates this woman is now living on the Cape. Photos show a woman with a striking resemblance to Mrs. Eldredge. Panic-stricken, Nancy races into the yard and finds only Missy's red mitten caught in the swing. Her children are…GONE!

Clark scatters a fair number of red herrings; suspension of disbelief is occasionally required. But the story keeps pouring out. Twists and turns and surprises, some of which are too pat As in all good suspensers, you know it's going to end well, but the edge-teetering drives you onward until the final...uh...fall.

Overall, I liked the book; I read it in a day. Kept my interest. But I do have major quibbles about some of the characters and their motivations. Can't say more without blowing up the plot, of course.
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LibraryThing member bookwitch24
A very good mystery that keeps you guessing until the very end.
LibraryThing member kallmon75
very good book
LibraryThing member LorisBook
This storyline is very gripping and extremely bold considering the time period it was first written. I believe I read it first about 30 years ago. Nancy Harmon's two children are dead. She is accused and facing death but gets released on a technicality. She then changes her identity and flees to
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Cape Cod. She marrys and has two more children and basically begins to relive the nightmare again when they go missing - and she is again a suspect. The anxiety of missing children, the false imprisonment and the devastation of a suicide all lead to an emotionally turbulent read. I picked it up and was devoted to reading through it as quickly as posssible.
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LibraryThing member Twink
Where Are The Children by Mary Higgins Clark was originally released in 1975. It is newly released as an audio book.

Clark has penned a new introduction to the book. She names Where Are the Children as the book that kick-started her incredible career.

Although I've read a number of Clark's books, I
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had never read Where Are the Children. More and more, I'm doing my 'reading' through audiobooks, so I was quite happy to listen to this title.

Nancy Harmon was a suspect in the deaths of her two young children. She was cleared in court, but not in the public eye. She changed her name, appearance and locale in an attempt to start over. She found love with Ray and they have two children together. And she is as happy as she can be. Until......yep, unbelievably these children go missing. How could this happen again to her? And as much as she knows knows she has nothing to do with their disappearance, the cops think she does......

Now, this book was written 44 years - and at the time it created some controversy. In the intro, Clark mentions this book was turned down by some publishers because of some of the content. It would have been boundary pushing in 1975. I kept this in mind as I listened. Clark also says that the inspiration for the story was the real life case of Alice Crimmins.

What happens to Nancy is unthinkable and she collapses. A friend of the family who happens to be a therapist believes that the past holds the clues to what is happening now. As she answers his questions we learn that Nancy's first marriage was more than a little creepy. The childsnatcher also has a voice. Creepier. His motive for taking the children is, well, deviant. And this is probably what scared off publishers in 1975.

The reader knows what is happening with the children as well as how the search for them is progressing. A back and forth narrative ramps up the tension. (And ensures the reader listens to just one more chapter) And kudos to Clark. Twists and turns in a novel are all the rage now. Where Are the Children includes some nice unexpected twists.There's a reason Mary Higgins Clark is called the Queen of Suspense.

This early novel was a treat to listen to. January LaVoy was the reader. She's a narrator I know and I quite enjoy her voice and readings. Her performance in Where Are the Children was excellent. She has a rich, smooth voice with a nice undertone. Her enunciation is crisp and clean. Her voice is clear and easy to understand. She has interpreted the book well and her voice telegraphs the tension and action well. She provided really believable and distinctive voices for the characters. Her children's voices were especially well done.
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LibraryThing member authorjanebnight
Synopsis: Years ago Nancy's two children were murdered. Nancy was found guilty of their murder but released on a technicality. She moved away and hid her identity. She remarried and had two more children. Now, those children are missing and Nancy is the primary suspect.

My rating:

Sorry for the
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vagueness but this is a thriller and I am trying to explain my thoughts without spoilers.

I loved the general plot of this book. It was such an interesting premise. Sadly, I felt the execution was lacking.

Nancy was an interesting character and I felt sorry for both her and her husband as they tried to figure out what happened to their children.

I also thought the villain was creepy and awful in a well done way.

Characters were probably the best part of the book. Most of my issues were with pacing, plot, and the fact the book did not age well.

The police in the book acted like country bumpkins with no idea how to do police work. . There was a particular element to the crime that it seemed as if the police had never heard of before. In this day and age one needs only to watch a few episodes of any crime show and they will be exposed to the concept that the police in the book seem unaware of. I can understand an audience being unaware of it in the 1970s but not police officers. I can't name the element without spoilers but their lack of exposure to what, even then, must have been a common issue really bothered me.

I felt like the book was drawn out far longer than it had to be due to characters unnecessarily hesitating to offer the police information about the crime.

Also, I felt that the author withheld vital information unnecessarily. There are things from the past that happened that the reader is not privy to that would have made the books happenings make more sense but were withheld as red herrings or to misdirect readers. I had already guessed who was behind the current kidnappings I just didn't know how they did it. Information that proves vital later not just for the explanation of the villain but about their downfall was withheld.

I felt that this book did not age well. It was written in the 1970s and it's age shows in many aspects but especially the fat representation. The villain is overweight and is made out to be completely disgusting. I was highly offended by the descriptions of his body.

I listened to this book via audio book and I did not enjoy the narrative choices. Particularly the voices of Nancy's son Michael and the voice of the villain.

If you enjoy classic thrillers this isn't a terrible read. I understand why people enjoyed this especially when it was first written. Just go in knowing that the feeling of being written in the 1970s is very present.

Also, skip the audio book.
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LibraryThing member perkykeri
What a great thriller! I was very surprised with the twists that lead to the ending.
LibraryThing member kevn57
I'm not much of a thriller reader, I prefer mysteries that I have to puzzle out. But this book is a makes me reexamine that bias. I was sure that Rob Legler was the person who killed Nancy's children then kidnapped her new kids but I was completely wrong and it was revealed until 80% into the
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The book was very well written and had me turning the pages as fast as I could. This 45 year old book also made me realize I'm never going to be able to read all the great books before I shuffle off this mortal coil. I want to be reincarnated as a librarian.
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LibraryThing member Dairyqueen84
I'm reading this with my teen book club. I thought I had read this as a teen myself but as I reread it, it did not ring any bells. I know I read A Stranger is Watching and I really thought I read this one too. I remember them both being supremely creepy and scary but this time around, not so much.
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Maybe that's because I read it already. When I was a teen I went through phases with my reading. I would read a ton of mystery novels or read a bunch of novels by the same author or gothic mysteries or a bunch of Mary Renault books.

The nightmare begins again just when Nancy Harmon thought she had left it all behind and was beginning to heal from the murder charges against her of her children from her first marriage. Then the children from her second marriage go missing and she can't believe this is happening again.
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LibraryThing member gpangel
Where have the Children Gone by Mary Higgins Clark is a 2023 Pocket Books publication. (Originally published in 1975 by Simon & Schuster)

If I have my information straight, this was MHC’s first novel of suspense, which was originally published in 1975. Of course, we all know she went on to earn
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the ‘Queen of Suspense’ moniker and had a very long, successful career.

I can’t tell you with complete honesty, if I ever read this book before, but if I did, it was too long ago for me to remember- so I'm happy to see the book has been reissued so I read it before Alafair Burke's follow-up- which I am so excited about!!

(Burke co-authored a series with Clark before her death, so she is familiar with Clark’s style of writing, and I hope she will continue to keep her legacy going. It seems fitting that Burke would begin with a story featuring Nancy's adult children.)

But before I get ahead of myself- let's take a look at this classic:

Nancy was in her twenties when her two children were murdered, and she became the prime suspect. She was convicted of the crime, but was let go on a technicality. She started over, got remarried, had more children, and lived a quiet life off the Cape, hoping a key witness would stay hidden and that she would never be recognized or retried for murder.

Unfortunately, the absolute worse happens when Nancy’s children disappear- again!

For a book written back in the mid-seventies, this story featured some taboo topics, such a pedophilia, which publishers were apparently concerned about. This book, though some language and attitudes are dated, stands the test of time very well. The suspense is indeed intense, and although I am a jaded reader, I was on the edge of my seat a few times.

Overall, I thought for a first-time suspense writer this book was well executed and fast-paced. I can see why Clark became so popular! This is a quick read and a real page turner, too. I can’t wait to see how Burke continues this story with Nancy’s adult children!

4 stars
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LibraryThing member Romonko
Where Are the Children? was published in 1975 by Mary Higgins Clark. It was her first fiction book. She had been making a living by writing radio scripts and decided that that she should write a book, but she had no idea what kind of book. She looked at her bookshelves and saw that they were full
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of Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, and a whole lot of mysteries and thrillers , so she decided to write a thriller. She sat down and started writing and, according to he notes at the beginning of the reprint that I read, the book just "flew off her pen." She sent her completed copy to her agent, and waited. She didn't hear anything for quite awhile so she followed up with a phone call to her agent, and was informed that the book had already been picked up and was going to be published with no edits or revisions. I was fascinated to read this story of her entry into the writing of fiction thrillers, which was in her author's preview at the beginning of the book I read. So then it was time to read the story. I was not prepared for the sophistication of this thriller. The writing is incredible, the characters real, and the bad guy as chilling as any I've ever read. Now, almost 50 years later we have a long-awaited second book to what started it all, and I will be reading it as well.. Mary Higgins Clark is often referred to as the writer who wrote the first Psychological thriller. The book moves ahead at a break neck pace, and the action occurs all within one day. All ends well at the end, and I could put the book down with a satisfied sigh. Highly recommended for all thriller lovers, and a lesson as to how an impeccable thriller should be written.WasWas
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0671741187 / 9780671741181
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