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Alvirah and Willy, Book 9
Goodreads⎮Reviewed Aug. 2017
Narrator: Jan Maxwell
Length: 8 hours 6 minutes
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio⎮2010
Synopsis: In The Lost Years, Mary Higgins Clark, America’s Queen of Suspense, has written her most astonishing novel to date. At its center is a discovery that, if authenticated, may be the most revered document in human history—“the holiest of the holy”—and certainly the most coveted and valuable object in the world.
Biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons believes he has found the rarest of parchments—a letter that may have been written by Jesus Christ. Stolen from the Vatican Library in the 1500s, the letter was assumed to be lost forever. Now, under the promise of secrecy, Jonathan is able to confirm his findings with several other experts. But he also confides in a family friend his suspicion that someone he once trusted wants to sell the parchment and cash in.
Within days Jonathan is found shot to death in his study. At the same time, his wife, Kathleen, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, is found hiding in the study closet, incoherent and clutching the murder weapon. Even in her dementia, Kathleen has known that her husband was carrying on a long-term affair. Did Kathleen kill her husband in a jealous rage, as the police contend? Or is his death tied to the larger question: Who has possession of the priceless parchment that has now gone missing?
It is up to their daughter, twenty-eight-year-old Mariah, to clear her mother of murder charges and unravel the real mystery behind her father’s death. Mary Higgins Clark’s The Lost Years is at once a breathless murder mystery and a hunt for what may be the most precious religious and archaeological treasure of all time.
4.25 ★ Audiobook⎮ I’ve recently embarked on an auditory journey to hear titles from prominent “household name” authors. You know, to see what all the fuss is about. Last week it was James Patterson and this week, or more accurately, today, it was Mary Higgins Clark. I began my day with The Lost Years. Quite literally, in fact. I began listening to it while lazily lingering in bed this morning. Sunday mornings are great excuses for things like that.
The newest release from Mary Higgins Clark was what initially caught my eye. But when I realized it was part of a series, I decided to go back and start at the beginning. But that didn’t turn out so well. Apparently Audible doesn’t have recordings of the first several installments of this series. After reading the synopsis, I decided to settle on The Lost Years.
The Lost Years was an easier listen than anything I’ve heard from James Patterson. Probably because it only focused on one plot, as opposed to Private. I was effortlessly able to listen to it all in one day, practically straight through. However, this simplicity was a bit of a double edged sword.
Obviously, I enjoyed The Lost Years enough to finish it in one day, but that doesn’t mean as much as it would with another genre. I frequently stick with a mystery longer than I would something else, just to find out “whodunit”. The Lost Years wasn’t the gripping, suspenseful, “page turner” I was expecting. It just sort of plodded along until there were 30 minutes left. That’s when the action kicked in and I thought “Ooh, this is getting good!”. The previous 7.5 hours were rather uneventful.
Despite the premise, it was less historically based than one would think. I guess I was expecting something a little closer to The Magdalene Scrolls. Even so, the biggest letdown was the character development. There was certainly adequate time to better develop the many characters. Instead, they all came across as flat. I was confusing several of them right up until the end because there was so little distinction. And the ones that were semi-distinct, were still bland. Even Alrivah & Willie, who headline the whole series. They should have been much more lovable and memorable. If we were talking about real people, I would say they had no personality. Zilch. I’m so disappointed with the lack of flavor these characters possessed.
Although The Lost Years was a pleasant way to spend my Sunday, I saw nothing in it that would make me think Higgins Clark was worthy of the title “Queen of Suspense”. I’d say Baroness or Marquess, at best. However, the ease with which I was able to get through this title makes me inclined to try another of her works. I want to give Alvirah and Willie a chance to bloom into the characters I know they are meant to be.
Narration review: I’m similarly ambivalent about Jan Maxwell’s performance. She has a pleasant vocal tone and pacing. She also does both male and female voices very well. My problem was that I frequently found myself unable to distinguish between multiple characters in a conversation. Granted, there were quite a few characters in this novel and none of them were particularly well-defined in writing, but Maxwell’s narration didn’t help the definition very much. As with Alvirah and Willie, I hope Maxwell’s narration grows on me as I continue listen to Higgins Clark’s work. She seems to be narrating every Higgins Clark title that I’ve found so far. ♣︎