As Time Goes By
“Once again, Mary Higgins Clark validates her title as ‘Queen of Suspense.’"
Forty-three-year-old Betsy Grant is arrested for the death of her spouse, Dr. Ted Grant. Diagnosed many years ago with early onset Alzheimer's, Ted regresses rapidly into the disease. Married for 17 years, Betsy loves her husband and will not consider consigning him to a nursing home. Rather, she takes on the tedious task of his care despite his mercurial and often violent outbursts.
On Ted's birthday, Betsy honors him with a party in their home. Invited are his two former orthopedic partners, their wives, and Ted's caretaker, Carmen Sanchez. The evening commences smoothly; however, at dinner Ted becomes aggressive and strikes Betsy, causing her to admit she cannot take it anymore.
The guests leave, and Carmen settles Ted by giving him a sedative. Carmen complains of being ill, so she leaves, and Betsy retires, taking a sleeping pill, knowing Ted will sleep through the night.
The next morning Carmen arrives to find Ted deceased, having expired during the night. At the funeral home, they discover Ted's skull reveals recent trauma resembling assault with a blunt object. Suspicion turns to Betsy, and she is charged with murder.
Delaney Wright, a TV journalist assigned to Betsy's trial, firmly believes in Betsy's innocence even though the evidence points to her guilt. During this time, Delaney informs her friends Alvirah and Willy Meehan of her desire to locate her birth mother. This need soon develops into an obsession, and the Meehans’ increased resolve to find Delaney’s biological mother.
As the court proceedings move forward with in-depth interrogations of the witnesses, Alvirah searches for clues to Delaney's heritage. Her discovery leaves Delaney shaken, her attention off the case.
Meanwhile, Alan Grant, Betsy's stepson, is in dire financial straits and due to be the sole heir of the Grant millions if the Betsy is incarcerated. While this is a strong motive to suspect Alan, his alibi for the night of his father's death is airtight.
The differing cast offers unique voices with plenty of inner dialogue, so the reader is privy to profound insight into a character's thoughts. An example is the following regarding Delaney:
"She knew that the periodic craving had resumed when the feature about the reunited son and mother was aired, and it had been deepened by her discussion of the subject with Alvirah and Willy at Patsy's Restaurant. I wonder if Alvirah was serious about doing some of her own research, she thought as she passed Sixth Avenue. Then she smiled involuntarily. If Alvirah Meehan said she was going to do something, she's doing it, she decided. Well, who knows? Maybe she will find some way to trace the midwife."
Throughout the many subplots, each character is distinct and well fleshed-out. Like Betsy's attorney, Robert Maynard:
"As usual Maynard was impeccably dressed, this time in a gray suit with a faint pinstripe. His white shirt, cuff-linked sleeves and subtle tie, a blend of deep blue shades, gave off the appearance of well-groomed success. His rimless glasses enhanced chilly gray eyes. His expression was usually dour, as though someone had asked him to carry an impossible heavy load on his back."
This book's logical, free-flowing approach offers more than one mystery to fill the pages, displaying depth and division within the tale, while producing a cohesive and compelling conclusion. Once again, Mary Higgins Clark validates her title as "Queen of Suspense."