Once again the tale has been told. In this case the song has ended.
As always I’ve enjoyed the journey. While I am happy to write the words “The End,” there is also a certain poignancy about it. I have become very fond of the characters in this book. I leave you to discover anyone I am not fond of.
As usual there are those who walked the mile with me. To them a tip of the hat and my great gratitude.
First, of course, my editor of fifty years, Michael Korda. I am so blessed to have teamed up with him all these years.
Marysue Rucci, V.P., editor-in-chief at Simon & Schuster, for her wise input and guidance.
Elizabeth Breeden, for her diligence and patience throughout the editing process.
Art Director Jackie Seow, for the compelling cover art she creates.
Ed Boran, retired FBI agent and current president of the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Foundation, who was my mentor as I learned how the Bureau would investigate a crime like this one.
Interior Designer Eve Ardia, who instructed me on how to spend five million dollars decorating an apartment in this story.
Nadine Petry, my assistant and right hand these past seventeen years.
Rick Kimball, for his advice on how to move large amounts of money around—away from watchful eyes.
Finally my family support group—Spouse Extraordinaire John Conheeney for his unwavering support; my children, all of whom are always available and helpful when I want their comments on a chapter or two. They are especially helpful when they point out that an expression I am using is unrecognizable by today’s generation.
Tempus fugit and all that!
Happy reading, one and all.
Mary Higgins Clark
In memory of June Crabtree
Dear friend since our days at Villa Maria Academy
Thirty-year-old Elaine Marsha Harmon walked briskly from her apartment on East Thirty-Second Street in Manhattan to her job as an assistant interior decorator fifteen blocks away in the Flatiron Building at Twenty-Third Street and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Her coat was warm but she had not worn gloves. There was a distinct chill this early November morning.
She had twisted her long auburn hair and fastened it at the back of her head. Now only wisps of it blew around her face. Tall, like her father, and slender, like her mother, she had realized after graduating from college that the life of a teacher was not the way for her to go. Instead, she enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology and after receiving a degree had been hired by Glady Harper, the doyenne of interior decorating among the wealthy and the socially ambitious.
Elaine always joked that she had been named after her paternal great-aunt, a childless widow who was considered extremely well-to-do. The problem was that Auntie Elaine Marsha, an animal lover, had left most of her money to various animal shelters and very little to her relatives.
As Lane explained it, “Elaine is a very nice name and so is Marsha, but I never felt like Elaine Marsha.” As a child she had unintentionally solved that problem by mispronouncing her name as “Lane,” and it had stuck.
For some reason she was thinking about that as she walked from Second Avenue to Fifth and then down to Twenty-Third Street. I feel good, she thought. I love being here, right now, at this moment, in this place. I love New York. I don’t think I could ever live anyplace else. At least I wouldn’t want to. But she probably would decide to move to the suburbs soon. Katie would start kindergarten next September, and the private schools in Manhattan were too pricey for her.
That reflection brought a familiar stab of pain. Oh, Ken, she thought. If only you had lived. Pushing back the memory, she opened the door of the Flatiron Building and took the elevator to the fourth floor.
Although it was only twenty of nine, Glady Harper was already there, as she had expected. The other employees, the receptionist and the bookkeeper, usually arrived by two minutes of nine. Glady did not forgive lateness.
Lane stopped at the door of Glady’s private office. “Hi, Glady.”
Glady looked up. As usual her steel-gray hair looked as though she had not taken the trouble to brush it. Her wiry figure was clothed in a black sweater and slacks. Lane knew that Glady had a closet full of exactly the same outfits and that her passion for color and texture and design was reserved exclusively for the interiors of homes and offices. Sixty years old, divorced for twenty years, she was called “Glady” by her friends and employees. One of her fabric suppliers had joked “glad-she’s-not” would have been a more appropriate nickname, a remark that cost him a lucrative contract.