Last week, one of my favorite authors of all time, Mary Higgins Clark, passed away. When I first heard the news, sadness filled my heart. It’s like I lost a childhood friend. Her mysteries are part of the tapestry of my life, especially in my teen years. Her books allowed me to escape my dreary, lonely life and her characters became a part of me. I never had the chance to meet her but I’ve read all her books. I thought it would be an honorary tribute to share my top five Mary Higgins Clark books.
We'll Meet Again: A Novel
“The mistress of high tension” (The New Yorker) and undisputed Queen of Suspense Mary Higgins Clark brings us another New York Times bestselling novel that she “prepares so carefully and executes with such relish” (The New York Times Book Review) about the murder of a respected doctor—and his beautiful young wife charged with the crime.
Dr. Gary Lasch, famous Greenwich, Connecticut doctor and founder of the HMO Remington Health Management, is found dead in his home, his skull crushed by a blow with a heavy bronze sculpture, and his wife, Molly, in bed covered with his blood. It was the Lasches’ housekeeper, Edna Barry, who made the grisly discovery the morning after Molly’s unexpectedly early return from Cape Cod, where she had gone to seclude herself upon learning of her husband’s infidelity. As the evidence against Molly grows, her lawyer plea-bargains a manslaughter charge to avoid a murder conviction.
Released from prison nearly six years later, Molly reasserts her innocence to reporters, among them an old school friend, Fran Simmons, an investigative reporter and anchor for a true-crime show. Molly convinces Fran to research and produce a program on her husband’s death. As hidden aspects of Gary Lasch’s life and the affairs of Remington Health Management come to light, is Fran herself the next target for murder?
The Shadow of Your Smile
In The Shadow of Your Smile, worldwide bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark weaves a spellbinding thriller revolving around a long-held family secret that threatens to emerge and take the life of an unsuspecting heiress.
At age eighty-two and in failing health, Olivia Morrow knows she has little time left. The last of her line, she faces a momentous choice: expose a long-held family secret, or take it with her to her grave.
Olivia has in her possession letters from her deceased cousin Catherine, a nun, now being considered for beatification by the Catholic Church—the final step before sainthood. In her lifetime, Sister Catherine had founded seven hospitals for disabled children. Now the cure of a four-year-old boy dying of brain cancer is being attributed to her. After his case was pronounced medically hopeless, the boy’s desperate mother had organized a prayer crusade to Sister Catherine, leading to his miraculous recovery.
The letters Olivia holds are the evidence that Catherine gave birth at age seventeen to a child, a son, and gave him up for adoption. Olivia knows the identity of the young man who fathered Catherine’s child: Alex Gannon, who went on to become a world-famous doctor, scientist, and inventor holding medical patents.
Now, two generations later, thirty-one-year-old pediatrician Dr. Monica Farrell, Catherine’s granddaughter, stands as the rightful heir to what remains of the family fortune. But in telling Monica who she really is, Olivia would have to betray Catherine’s wishes and reveal the story behind Monica’s ancestry.
The Gannon fortune is being squandered by Alex’s nephews Greg and Peter Gannon, and other board members of the Gannon Foundation, who camouflage their profligate lifestyles with philanthropy.
Now their carefully constructed image is cracking. Greg, a prominent financier, is under criminal investigation, and Peter, a Broadway producer, is a suspect in the murder of a young woman who has been extorting money from him.
The only people aware of Olivia’s impending choice are those exploiting the Gannon inheritance. To silence Olivia and prevent Monica from learning the secret, some of them will stop at nothing—even murder.
Clark’s riveting new novel explores the juxtaposition of medical science and religious faith, and the search for identity by the daughter of a man adopted at birth.
Before I Say Goodbye: A Novel
Mary Higgins Clark, America's "Queen of Suspense," delves into the mystery of psychic powers and communication with the dead in her gripping new thriller, Before I Say Good-Bye.
When Adam Cauliff's new cabin cruiser, Cornelia II, blows up in New York harbor with him and several close business associates aboard, his wife, Nell MacDermott, is not only distraught at the loss but wracked with guilt because she and Adam had just had a serious quarrel and she had told him not to come home.
The quarrel was precipitated by Nell's decision to try to win the congressional seat long held by her grandfather Cornelius MacDermott. Orphaned at age ten, she had been raised by "Mac," as she called him, and was always at his side on Capitol Hill. Politics was in her blood, and Adam had known her ambitions when they married. Suddenly, however, he became opposed to her plan to run for Congress.
Nell, like her great-aunt Gert, possesses psychic gifts, which her grandfather scoffingly dismisses as "flights of fantasy." As a child she had been aware of the deaths of both her parents and grandmother at the exact moment they died. She knew because at that very moment she sensed their presence near her.
Even though Nell has the rare gift of extrasensory perception, she is much too levelheaded to accept most of the claims made by many so-called psychics and is skeptical about Aunt Gert's fascination with mediums. After Adam's death, however, Gert begs Nell to see a medium, Bonnie Wilson, who has contacted her, claiming she is in touch with Adam. Still regretting her last angry words to Adam, Nell agrees, hoping that she will be able to reach him through the medium and part from him in peace.
As the investigation into the boat's explosion proceeds, Nell is shocked by the official confirmation that it was not an accident but the result of foul play. Adam, an architect, had been involved in a major construction project on land he had recently purchased and which had since had a spectacular rise in value.
Was Adam the target of the explosion? Or was it Winifred Johnson, his self-effacing, fifty-two-year-old assistant, who knew too much about bribery in the construction business and who was openly in love with him? Or was it Sam Krause, a builder with a questionable reputation who was involved in the new project? Or Jimmy Ryan, the debt-ridden construction foreman whose wife, after his death, discovers money hidden in their home? Or was it Peter Lang, the wealthy man-about-town real-estate entrepreneur, whose minor traffic accident caused him to miss the fatal meeting on the boat?
As Nell searches for the truth about Adam's death, she carries out instructions from Adam transmitted through the medium. What she does not know is that she is being closely watched, and the nearer she comes to learning what actually happened on the boat that night, the nearer she is to becoming the next victim of a ruthless killer.
I Heard That Song Before: A Novel
In a riveting psychological thriller, Mary Higgins Clark takes the reader deep into the mysteries of the human mind, where memories may be the most dangerous things of all.
At the center of her novel is Kay Lansing, who has grown up in Englewood, New Jersey, daughter of the landscaper to the wealthy and powerful Carrington family. Their mansion -- a historic seventeenth-century manor house transported stone by stone from Wales in 1848 -- has a hidden chapel. One day, accompanying her father to work, six-year-old Kay succumbs to curiosity and sneaks into the chapel. There, she overhears a quarrel between a man and a woman who is demanding money from him. When she says that this will be the last time, his caustic response is: "I heard that song before."
That same evening, the Carringtons hold a formal dinner dance after which Peter Carrington, a student at Princeton, drives home Susan Althorp, the eighteen-year-old daughter of neighbors. While her parents hear her come in, she is not in her room the next morning and is never seen or heard from again.
Throughout the years, a cloud of suspicion hangs over Peter Carrington. At age forty-two, head of the family business empire, he is still "a person of interest" in the eyes of the police, not only for Susan Althorp's disappearance but also for the subsequent drowning death of his own pregnant wife in their swimming pool.
Kay Lansing, now living in New York and working as a librarian in Englewood, goes to see Peter Carrington to ask for permission to hold a cocktail party on his estate to benefit a literacy program, which he later grants. Kay comes to see Peter as maligned and misunderstood, and when he begins to court her after the cocktail party, she falls in love with him. Over the objections of her beloved grandmother Margaret O'Neil, who raised her after her parents' early deaths, she marries him. To her dismay, she soon finds that he is a sleepwalker whose nocturnal wanderings draw him to the spot at the pool where his wife met her end.
Susan Althorp's mother, Gladys, has always been convinced that Peter Carrington is responsible for her daughter's disappearance, a belief shared by many in the community. Disregarding her husband's protests about reopening the case, Gladys, now terminally ill, has hired a retired New York City detective to try to find out what happened to her daughter. Gladys wants to know before she dies.
Kay, too, has developed gnawing doubts about her husband. She believes that the key to the truth about his guilt or innocence lies in the scene she witnessed as a child in the chapel and knows she must learn the identity of the man and woman who quarreled there that day. Yet, she plunges into this pursuit realizing that "that knowledge may not be enough to save my husband's life, if indeed it deserves to be saved." What Kay does not even remotely suspect is that uncovering what lies behind these memories may cost her her own life.
I Heard That Song Before once again dramatically reconfirms Mary Higgins Clark's worldwide reputation as a master storyteller.
The Lottery Winner: Alvirah and Willy Stories
Alvirah Meehan, one of Mary Higgins Clark's most beloved characters, returns in these dazzling, intertwined tales of sleuthing and suspense. Alvirah, the former cleaning lady who struck it rich in the lottery, made her first appearance in Weep No More, My Lady. Now, with her devoted mate, Willy, the ever-resourceful Alvirah delves into crime-solving on a grand scale -- and with her own inimitable style.
Among their many adventures, Alvirah and Willy find a dead actress in their Central Park South condominium upon their return from London in "The Body in the Closet." Needing a break from the big city, they escape to Cape Cod -- only to meet a would-be heiress framed for murder in "Death on the Cape." When Alvirah and Willy seek the tranquillity of the Cypress Point Spa, it's the perfect getaway -- until a jewel thief turns up in "The Lottery Winner." Back in Manhattan, the search for a neighbor's missing newborn makes for a suspense-filled Christmas in "Bye, Baby Bunting."
Did you have a favorite Mary Higgins Clark book? Let us know in the comments below.