Liza Barclay, aged 10, shot her mother while trying to protect her from her violent stepfather, ex-FBI agent Charley Foster. Despite her stepfather's claim that it was a deliberate act, the Juvenile Court ruled the death an accident. Many people, however, agreed with Foster and tabloids compared Liza to the infamous murderess, Lizzie Borden, pointing even to the similarity in name.
Growing up with adoptive parents who tried to erase every trace of her past, her name is changed to Celia. Always, though, the fear hung over her and the family - that someday, her vengeful stepfather would reappear to harm her. Aged 25, a successful interior designer, she marries a childless sixty-year old widower and they have a son. Before their marriage, she had confided her earlier life to her husband. Two years on, on his deathbed, he tells her that he would want her to re-marry, but makes her swear never to reveal her past to anyone, so that their son would not carry the burden of this family tragedy - a promise that plunges her into a new cycle of violence.
Three years later, happily re-married, Celia is shocked when her second husband presents her with a gift -- the house where she killed her mother. When the real estate agent who has made the sale recognises her and, soon after, is murdrered, Celia is accused of the crime. Once again, she is home -- the place where she is stamped as a murderess.
Clark's clever use of a bit of New Jersey real estate code fits perfectly into her usual formula for minting bestsellers in a novel about past deadly secrets coming to haunt the present. At One Old Mill Lane, in Mendham, N.J., 10-year-old Liza Barton wakes to find her stepfather, Ted Cartwright, attacking her mother, Audrey. Liza grabs a gun in defense, but in the ensuing melee Audrey is killed and Ted is wounded. Dubbed "Little Lizzie Borden," Liza is taken away and almost convicted of murdering her mother and attempting to kill the lying, scheming Ted. Twenty-four years later, Liza, now known as Celia Foster Nolan, has just been presented with a surprise birthday present from her new husband, Alex: the house at One Old Mill Lane. Alex doesn't know Celia is really Liza, and he doesn't know the house's grim past but thanks to a real estate code obligating agents to notify prospective buyers if a house could be considered "stigmatized property," he's about to find out about the latter at least. As Celia fights to keep her dark secret hidden, their real estate agent turns up dead. More folks are killed and Celia comes under suspicion. But in typical Clark style, most of the characters look a little guilty. Some readers will get annoyed by Celia's tendency to do things that reinforce the cops' suspicions, but Clark's steadfast fans will suspend all necessary disbelief and play along.
Customer ReviewsSee All
No brainer, good easy read with a little twist