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Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Mary Higgins Clark’s first suspense novel, Where Are the Children?, kicked off her career as a best-selling author—and her long reign as the “queen of suspense.” Nancy Harmon is a woman who reinvents herself—moves to Cape Cod, dyes her hair, and changes her name—after she’s accused of gruesomely murdering her own two children. She gets off on a technicality, remarries, and starts over in a place where no one knows her past—until her two new children disappear and her suspicious history bubbles to the surface.

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This fast-paced 1975 thriller is a classic for a reason, and cemented Clark’s status among the greats. She was one of the first to employ the form of short, cliff-hanger-filled chapters that are now standard in the genre, taking an absorbing story and packaging it in a way that made it truly unputdownable. Laura Lippman, who wrote the introduction to the latest reprint of Where Are the Children? likened Clark’s artful approach to suspense to “a system of stones and breadcrumbs, similar to the items Hansel and Gretel used to mark their paths in and out of the woods.” The book’s popularity also led to a sequel, co-written by Clark and Alafair Burke, nearly 50 years after the original was published. —Meg Zukin

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