May 19, 1997 12:00 PM

by Mary Higgins Clark

Clark’s title, taken from an old Jerry Vale song, aptly sums up the plight of her heroine. Lacey Farrell is a real estate agent with one of Manhattan’s toniest agencies. When she becomes the unwitting witness to the murder of a client, as well as the guardian of a journal that might implicate others, she is whisked into the Federal Witness Protection program. Given a new name and a new residence (Minneapolis), she would seem to be protected from the hit man determined to find her. What Lacey can’t be protected from is the stupidity of her relatives. Soon enough, her mother, who has whined and pleaded to learn her location, gives it away.

Although Clark is known for her multilayered plots, this is perhaps her most convoluted yet, with more than a few incredible twists and implausible turns as Lacey tries to stay one step ahead of her pursuer. And for once, the author’s fast pace works against her: Having set her character adrift in the Midwest, Clark might have more thoroughly examined the plight of an ordinary woman forced to create a completely new life.

As constructed, Pretend You Don’t See Her cannot dally with such potentially engrossing details. Read it for what Clark has offered in her books before: an escape into a gentle world of sinister surprises. (Simon and Schuster, $25)

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