It was with great sadness that we learned of the death, last week, of Mary Higgins Clark, the author of 51 suspense novels all of which were bestsellers.
The news of the passing of Mary Higgins Clark, came as a shock because she had been publishing since before I knew what a suspense novel was, and showed no signs of stopping. She wasn’t the first women to write suspense, but she was a pioneer just the same. As if that weren’t enough, MHC didn’t publish her first book until she was forty-three! So there’s hope for all of us…
My first Higgins Clark was The Cradle Will Fall. I had read about it in a book about writing where the author gave a roundup of best-selling writers and their styles, skills, and flaws. He praised MHC but warned that her plots sometimes relied too much on coincidence. What suspense novels don’t?
So I snapped it up. And plunged right in. Maybe it did rely on coincidence. But that’s what made it work for me. It wasn’t so much coincidence but rather the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle falling together. Or a well-oiled machine running like a dream.
The next MHC I read might be my favorite – Weep No More, My Lady. I decided on that one because the basic plot reminded me of a classic Gothic romance or romantic suspense plot. Did he or didn’t he? I didn’t guess the solution. I loved the tension. I also enjoyed the setting — a ritzy spa in Pebble Beach. The heroine. The hero… Or was he? The minor character — the lottery winner who went on to star in her own stories.
Years ago, I also listened to the audiobook of MHC’s first book, Where Are the Children? Talk about a freaky villain. And isn’t that one if the best titles ever? So many of MHC’s titles reach out and tickle my brain from the shelves.
I read my first Mary Higgins Clark book when I was twelve. Up until that point, I’d read mysteries for kids, but one of my mom’s friends bought me a copy of A Cry In the Night as an audiobook, and I was hooked. Admittedly, it’s been quite some time since I picked up one of her novels, but she had a huge influence on my early reading life. It’s sad that she’s gone, but her legacy definitely won’t be forgotten.
I’ve read more than a few of Ms. Clark’s books and almost always enjoyed them. Here are my top five favorites by her:
Moonlight Becomes You This is another of the scary ones but what I really loved about it was the romance. Ms. Clark’s romances tended to be the weakest aspect of the novel but in this case, it was actually absolutely lovely. The mystery here is pretty intense and the crime pretty horrifying but compared to today’s thrillers, it’s tame.
Remember Me – I’ve read this novel several times over the years because it contains one of my favorite tropes – a crime from modern times leading to the solving of a historical injustice. Menley and her family are taking a vacation at Cape Cod when a series of strange events at the historic house they are renting has her fearing for all their lives. It’s a great story.
Loves Music, Loves to Dance – Some of Ms. Clark’s books were scary, most weren’t. This is one of the scary ones – a serial killer who preys on young women has been getting away with murder for fifteen years but when Darcy’s friend is murdered, she determines to put an end to his crime spree.
While My Pretty One Sleeps – I’m not someone who hearts New York but one of the things I really loved about this book was its depiction of the city and of the people who do love it. I also enjoyed its description of the fashion industry and the clever way Neeve, the heroine figured out who the criminal was has stayed with me for well over a decade.
Where Are the Children – This book just creeped me out, although part of that could have been my age at the time. This was quite popular in my junior high and I have fond memories of desks being pushed together and whispered conversations about the novel. Weirdly, it came out while I was still in elementary school, so I’m not sure how to account for the resurgence. Maybe all our moms just had the paper back on their shelves.
What are your favourite Mary Higgins Clark novels? Let us know in the comments.