The Literary Salon – Mary Higgins Clark R.I.P.

I did not include Mary Higgins Clark’s latest in my Books and Brownies round-up of the winter’s best reads, as while I enjoyed it, I detected a slight difference in style with this one.   I noted that she had dedicated it to the memory of her late husband (2018) and thanked her son who was with her every sentence of the way, which along with the six months delay (she usually publishes around Mother’s Day), I wrote off as being due to the inevitable life crises which sooner or later affect us all.   So I was surprised to see from an in-memoriam display at my local library that she had passed away on Jan 31 at the age of 92 of natural causes.   As she has blessed us with decades of good reading, this month’s literary salon will pay tribute to the original Queen of Suspense.  

Kiss the Girls and Make Them CryKiss the Girls and Make Them Cry by Mary Higgins Clark

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Her Highness delivers as usual, her latest and unfortunately her last.   R.I.P.

About the Author:     Mary Higgins Clark was born in 1927, of Irish descent.  Her family owned an Irish pub and was fairly prosperous but fell on hard times at the end of the Depression after her father died.   She worked as a secretary, copy editor and airline stewardess before marrying and having five children.   A gifted storyteller right from the start, she took writing classes at NYU, and started selling short stories to supplement the family income, and later turned to mysteries after being widowed in 1964 at a young age.    First published at 43, she had her first bestseller in 1975 with Where Are The Children,which she sold for the low price of $3000.   Six months later when the paperback rights went for $100,000, she quit her day job at an advertising agency and devoted herself to writing full time.   She sold her second book for $1.5 million and was at one time the highest paid female author in the country.   Her net worth is estimated at 140 million and over 100 million of her books are in print in the US alone, plus many international translations.   She has written 56 books, 38 of them suspense novels, four collections of short stories, a memoir (Kitchen Memoir), five books with her daughter Carol and six with Alafair Burke – the Under Suspicion series.   All I might add, with the same publishing company Simon and Schuster, and the same editor Michael Korda – here’s a link from S&S and for more on her story see Wikipedia link.   

Why I Read Her Books:    While the market today is saturated with psychological thrillers, for a long time Mary Higgins Clark was the designated Queen of Suspense, and the only suspense novelist I read.   (I was never a fan of Agatha Christie).    She was popular, and while considered fluffy formula writing by some, her books were immensely readable and you were always guaranteed of a happy outcome.   Her main protagonist was usually an independent young woman no older than 35, and while there was often the suggestion of a romance, it was not the main course.   While suspenseful, there were no gory forensic reports or ambiguous or surprise endings – nor were her books so creepy that you went around double-checking the locks at night.   She was dependable – her books could be counted on for a good light read.   

I remember when Maeve Binchy died in 2012, and she was only 70.   When you are used to reading a favorite author every year, it can be upsetting to realize there will be No More Books!    Although Maeve’s husband continued to publish a few short stories which hadn’t seen the light of day and a biography, it just wasn’t the same as having a new novel to crack open.   I wonder if that will be the case with Mary Higgins Clark, (although having seen the final episode of last weeks PBS Sanditon mini-series, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s last unfinished manuscript, sometimes it’s better if things are left undone).   While I’ve read a few of her early short stories, including one about her experience as a Pan-Am stewardess dealing with a stowaway on board, I’ve never read any of her earlier books including Where Are The Children or A Stranger is Watching, so these will have to do next summer when I need a M.H.Clark fix at the beach.             

What does it take to produce an annual bestseller like that?    Maybe it came easy to her, (Danielle Steele once said she could knock off a manuscript in a weekend), in which case she was lucky, but I suspect it took a fair degree of dedication and determination and a lot of hard work and  perseverance.   As she aged into her 80’s, it amazed me that she was still churning them out – her books stayed up to date, with cell phones/gadgets and modern settings and plots.   Her last book concerned the #metoo movement, and another, a murder at the famous MET gala costume ball.   She had a passion for writing and a zest for living until the very end.    Maybe that’s what everyone needs when they get older – a reason to keep on going.    I hope she is up there in the big library-in-the-sky (which is how I like to think of the afterlife for book lovers), resting in peace and reading her heart out….and maybe sending some gentle plot suggestions to a few of us earthlings looking for guidance.              

 

   

29 thoughts on “The Literary Salon – Mary Higgins Clark R.I.P.

  1. Ally Bean says:

    I’ve never read a book by Mary Higgins Clark, yet I know of her. I read all of AG’s Miss Marple series for a class in college and that might be why I never read Clark. Not that they’re the same, but I got my fill of that type of author. Of course, now is a different story, so thanks for the idea.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I’m not sure how I got started reading her, as I never read mysteries until a few years ago after Gone Girl. She’s a light and fluffy read. The only AChritie I’ve read was And then there were None and Murder on the Orient express – both of which had so many characters I found it hard to sort them out.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. lindasschaub says:

    I had heard she died as it was on the news that day and the news story mentioned all the books she had written, but I didn’t know about her life before she was an author. Thanks for telling us that here in this post. My mom liked mysteries and always enjoyed Mary Higgins Clark’s books. She also liked Sue Grafton’s alphabet murder series. Have you ever read Grafton’s books Joni? It is the same thing as realizing no more MH Clark books … Sue Grafton died before her “Z” is for Murder” book could be written.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I did not know Sue Grafton had died either. I think I tried one of them, earlier in the alphabet, but never got into them. That’s too bad – I wonder if they had another writer try and finish the series?

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I thought I read that she had partially started that book, but had cancer the last few years of her life and was progressing slowly on it, but the family was going to hire a ghostwriter, but I never heard any more about it. I used to like Lawrence Sanders and his “Deadly Sin” series … he was a NY detective and while he pondered over difficult cases, he would stop at a deli and ordered a very “wet” deli sandwich and eat it over the sink and enjoying that sandwich helped him come up with clues. He was a big of a character … maybe a bit like Peter Falk’s Columbo.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Thanks Linda! I’ve already read it – I blogged about it last summer in my Beach Books blog. It won one of the Goodreads book of the year awards for mystery I think. First time author too. I was in awe of the ending. Are you familiar with those weighted blankets she mentioned? I have seen them at a home expo exhibit and even the 10 lb one seemed heavy, but they are supposed to help you sleep better. It goes by body weight – quite expensive too at least for a good quality one. They started using them in autistic children and found it helped them settle.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I did not remember that Joni – I did remember the book “The Summer of ’69” by Elin Hilderbrand as I bought that one. It sounded like something you’d like … mystery, medical. I don’t know how this blogger gets time to read as she is always studying or on the go. They both quit their jobs to go to grad school full time (hers is to be a PA and his for a masters in public relations administration – he previously worked for a professional baseball team in the San Fran area doing some PR) … I tell Mackenzie that I guess I had that much energy at her age (25) but it seems hard to believe now. I am not familiar with the weighted blankets at all but saw them at Meijer (my grocery store which is like a SuperK or Walmart) before Christmas. They were about $60.00 I believe and on sale $10.00 off. Do you use a full size blanket as the “roll” did not look like it may be more than an afghan size. I picked up the rolled blanket and could not believe how heavy it was. I have heard about the calming effect but didn’t know they were used on autistic children for that reason. Were you thinking of getting one?

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        No, but I did see them at a home health care display/talk and they said the good ones are $300 – it depends on what they fill them with and he said what to look for but I forget…not plastic beads anyway, those would be the cheaper ones. I don’t remember ever having time to read when I was in school – maybe one or two books a summer.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Oh, I had no idea they were that much! There is a health reporter on my radio station and she gives little blurbs about health-related topics and by coincidence, today’s topic was weighted blankets. She mentioned, like you did, about helping to settle down kids who are autistic or have behavioral issues as the blankets have a calming effect, but she said that they take a while to get used to and can be hot in the Summer (that would seem right, but I guess if you liked it, you would not part with it in the Summer months). I don’t even think I read in the Summer when in school as I was sick of reading books during the school year … I was a literature minor and I never got to enjoy books, just tear them apart and analyze them, then write a book report after that.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        That could be why I don’t remember reading that much in my 20’s either, sick of school work and worked all summer. I think I was 30ish and took books to the beach when I started reading again.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Yes, I’m sure that was it – too much bookwork took the enjoyment out of it … tonight I am going to start my book. I was sitting doing my blog post early this morning and started early to get the invoices done timely before my boss goes out of town. I have been sitting since 6:00 a.m. so going to finish up here and start my book since it is “National Reading Day” and will catch up with your e-mails tomorrow – I know you will be proud of me for doing that. 🙂

        Like

      • lindasschaub says:

        I have to make it a regular ritual Joni, the same ritual as going to WordPress to post/read/comment and when that happens I will be happy. When I worked, I could hardly wait to get on the bus and read my book, then at lunch and on the trip home. If it was a really good book, I’d read it in bed, but I often would fall asleep reading in bed as it would be late at night. It is hard to step away from here and everywhere else, as to social media, as I read the news online, but I also listen to the AM radio news a lot from when I get up until I go to bed, so I keep current with news that way as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I hope to be like I once was, an avid reader, and I hope it can happen before retirement, but definitely AFTER retirement. Every day I look forward to retirement more. I am going to finish a post tonight. I started it over the weekend, and have to finish it up and add my pictures. I’d rather have a Monday and Friday schedule as more time in between, but I’m going to stick to this schedule for good (except for holidays when I may sneak in another post). Then back to reading tomorrow night (hopefully).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. annieasksyou says:

    Nice, Joni. Years ago, I was active in the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and I remember vividly one time she was the featured speaker and described her life both before and after writing. I’m not a mystery fan, so I haven’t read any of her books, but I know she did extensive research and took her work very seriously—even before the big bucks came pouring in. She was also a mentor to younger writers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni says:

      I’m sure she would have been an interesting speaker, as she had an interesting life, both hard times and very prosperous ones. I read her Kitchen Memoir autobiography many years ago. Her work might seem fluffy to some, but the plotting alone would be difficult, at least in my opinion, as that is my downfall…

      Like

  4. Debbie says:

    Sad news to hear that she passed away. I haven’t read her books, but I always remember them fondly from my library page days–they were always so easy to file because the library always had a big selection in stock!
    The nice thing about writers is that they live on in their pages.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello! I'm Bernice. says:

    I so enjoyed the information you shared. I may have read a book or two of Clark. But not really sure. I loved Maeve Binchy and was devastated by her death. I always enjoyed reading a new book over the summer. I found another Irish author that I enjoyed. I love getting lost in a good book. And thanks for following Supper Plate! Following your blog and looking forward to more posts!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hello! I'm Bernice. says:

        I like Nora Roberts Blood Magick series. But Nora is not Irish but I like her Irish books. I really enjoy the Irish series Mystic Cove by Tricia O’Malley. My absolute favorite is The Gallaghers of Ardmore Trilogy by Nora Roberts. I have read them several times. I will have to look into Cathy Kelly’s book. Tara Road is one of my favorite Maeve Binchy’s books.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Joni says:

        Cathy Kelly is very similar to Maeve Binchy – I esp. liked her book The House on Willow Street, and The Honey Queen. She comes out with one every year, but I did not like her last one, The Year Which Changed Everything, mostly because I thought the 3 heroines were not very bright! It’s been awhile since I’ve read any Nora Roberts.

        Liked by 1 person

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