Finders keepers, losers weepers?
What do you do when you find something that belongs to someone else? Do you pocket the object, thanking the universe for an unexpected gift? Or do you go to the ends of the Earth to give it back to whomever it might belong?
For most, the answer lies somewhere in the middle but Jonathan Lyons knew that an incalculably rare item absolutely needed to be returned after disappearing some 500 years ago. But in the new novel "The Lost Years" by Mary Higgins Clark (c. 2012, Simon & Schuster, $26.99, 292 pages), he can't do the deed if he's dead.
"So much noise ... so much blood."
Those six words were the most intelligible things that Kathleen Lyons said.
She was the only witness to the murder of her husband, Jonathan -- but maybe she wasn't just a witness. Suffering from Alzheimer's, frightened, and covered with blood, Kathleen was discovered by her daughter, cowering in a closet and clutching a gun.
Twenty-eight-year-old Mariah knew that her mother wasn't a killer. Still, it was true that Kathleen went into a rage when, in moments of lucidity, she remembered that she had evidence of her husband's infidelity. It was that infidelity that caused a rift between Mariah and her father, and it hurt Mariah to know that mending their relationship would never again be possible.
It also hurt that her father hadn't shared his joy at what was surely the pinnacle of his career: Jonathan Lyons had discovered a priceless Biblical document, a letter from Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea.
And that document was missing.
As Kathleen Lyons was led away in handcuffs, crying and confused, Jonathan's four best friends -- all experts in antiquities -- denied having seen the letter. Mariah was sure that one of them had been privy to her father's discovery, or maybe Jonathan had confided in his mistress, Lily. Mariah hated Lily, so that wasn't a pleasant thought.
Rory Steiger needed to get out of town. If that professor hadn't recognized her, things might've been different, even though she really did hate tending to "dear Kathleen." That was a job she would not miss.
Rory hated being a caretaker almost as much as she hated being manipulated...
They say that Agatha Christie was the Grand Dame of Mystery. If that's true, then author Mary Higgins Clark must be the Marquise, because this book is a royal treat.
Admittedly, "The Lost Years" is typical Clark: quietly predictable, and with a twist of history. The surprise is that it contains an appealing new crimesolver who, while meddlesome and a bit folksy, is somebody you can't help but like.
And speaking of like, I like the gentle edginess of this novel. There's blood in here, but no guts or gratuitous violence. That's refreshing for a genre in which so many writers like to up the ante on gore.
If you're someone who enjoys sharing novels with others, though, beware: lend this book and you may never get it back. That's because, for mystery fans, "The Lost Years" is truly a keeper.
Reach Terri Schlichenmeyer at firstname.lastname@example.org.