Friday’s Forgotten Book: Mirror Image by Lucille Fletcher (1988)

Yet the images kept coming, the all-pervading sadness that filled her days and nights. Ever since Marya’s disappearance there had been no end to the underlying melancholy of every house they lived in, every city they went to, and even every picture that her mother had managed to make.

Eight year old, Robin Chodoff is troubled by her parents’ separation. Her father, a budding composer, has packed his suitcases and left Robin and her younger sister, Marya, with their mother, a famous actress. Walking with her mother and younger sister Marya in Central Park, the three of them are accosted by fans of her mother who clamour for autograph. Robin and Marya walk ahead as their mother obliges. However, frightened by a scary woman who comes towards them, little Marya tugs her hand loose from Robin and runs away. She is not found again…

Almost two decades later, Robin is a lonely girl, racked with guilt of what happened on that fateful day. Her father is dead, her mother is dying of cancer, there are no friends or family to speak of, and Marya’s disappearence haunts them still. Into Robin’s life walks a stranger, Andy Forrester. A lawyer by profession, Andy too is all alone in the world except for a grand-aunt. The two of them become close and Robin invites Andy to her house to meet her mother who, however, takes a dislike to Andy and makes it clear that she wouldn’t like him to be invited again. Caught between her mother and lover, Robin is in a fix.

As though this turmoil wasn’t enough, a letter arrives from France giving details of a girl who might very well be the missing Marya. Robin is skeptical but at her mother’s insistence flies to France and sees the girl who does look uncannily like her mother’s younger self, reminding her of Marya who had taken after their mother. With the help of a detective, Robin contacts the girl and tries to jog her memory. Just when she seems to be succeeding, murder occurs. And from then on, Robin finds herself trapped in a terrifying world where it is difficult to know what is reality and what is illusion.

The novel’s main problem lies in the last third of it. From an unputdownable, gripping tale, it becomes a little too far-fetched and giving a person three identities kind of destroys it. Nor am I very impressed by the saccharine-sweet end. These problems aside, the novel helped me get over a difficult day and for that I am very thankful and would like to read more of this (new-to-me) author.

Have you read the novel? Are you convinced by the plot? Any other novel of Fletcher that you’d like to recommend?

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First Line: On a beautiful Sunday morning in October, 1969, Robin Chodoff, aged eight, and her four-year-old sister, Marya, went for a walk with their mother in Central Park.

Publication Details: NY: William Morrow and Company, 1988.

First Published: 1988

Pages: 222

Source: Open Library

Other books read of the same author: None

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Part of the Friday’s Forgotten Book meme.

13 thoughts on “Friday’s Forgotten Book: Mirror Image by Lucille Fletcher (1988)

  1. Thanks! I’ll have to look for this – I’d read anything by the author of Sorry, Wrong Number! and she was married to the great Bernard Herrmann. A new author I’ll seek out.

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    1. Welcome to the blog and thanks for the follow.

      The book is pretty gripping till almost the end so I hope you enjoy it. No idea about Fletcher except, of course, as the writer of Sorry, Wrong Number which I am keeping for the last.

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  2. Too bad it falls part in the last third. I recommend “Eighty dollars to Stamford” (also recommended by Xavier Lechard) and “And Presumed Dead”. Both are very good and memorable, though not perfect. I also read “The Girl in Cabin B54” which was enjoyable as well, but not as much as the other two. And you probably know that Fletcher also wrote “Sorry, Wrong Number” turned into a very famous and classic movie starring Barbara Stanwyck.

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  3. I am not familiar with this author, other than reviews at crossexaminingcrime. Would not mind giving her books a try sometime.

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  4. Fletcher writes very well and is good at immersing the reader in her stories from the off. ’80 Dollars to Stamford’ is a masterpiece. Like others, I too enjoyed the feverish ‘…And Presumed dead’ and the slightly weird ‘The Girl in Cabin B54’. ‘The Strange Blue Yawl’ is an odd one but definitely intriguing. [Great title, too.] ‘Blindfold’, a Cold War story is also somewhat offbeat, though not as much as the others. ‘Mirror’, which I think was her last book, was for me the weakest of the bunch – interesting but just too fanciful.

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    1. Welcome to the blog, Christopher and thanks for such a detailed reply.

      In a way, I am glad that I started with what could be her weakest one because that means that I have some great reading ahead of me. Would like to leave Sorry, Wrong Number and Eighty Dollars for the end, so I guess the second read is going to be And Presumed Dead.

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