Book Reviews ~ The Shadow of Your Smile & Stillwatch

Hey, everyone. Summer is officially here. Weather-wise it arrived in Texas sometime in May. With many of our days reaching triple-digits, it’s a perfect time to stay indoors and read.

Those of you who have followed me for a while know Mary Higgins Clark was one of my favorite authors. Now that her books are on Kindle Unlimited, I decided to catch up on some of her titles I haven’t read and also reread some older ones. Today I’m sharing two reviews.

The Shadow of Your Smile

My Review

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Not her best…

I’ve been a fan of Mary Higgins Clark since reading Where Are the Children, and eagerly awaited each new release. I lost touch with the books in the early 2000s, but now that they’re available through Kindle Unlimited, I decided to catch up on a few I’d missed.

The Shadow of Your Smile is not her best work. I found several issues with the story.

There is too much telling with too many characters “thinking” about things, resulting in a ton of back story in almost every single chapter. There are countless uses of the words, “she thought,” or “he thought.” Those internal thoughts—going from third person to first person were distracting.

This happens throughout the book. I tend to read with a more critical eye these days, but if Higgins-Clark did this in her earlier works, I don’t recall. How in the world did editors from one of the largest publishing companies in the world allow this to happen? Was it because they believed a bestselling author could get away with anything and still sell books? Apparently, they were right.

There were also many instances of switching character points of view within a single scene. Was the author going after omniscient POV? It takes skill to pull that off, and Higgins-Clark didn’t come through. The scenes seemed like head-hopping.

To end on a positive note, there is a large cast of characters. That didn’t bother me as I’m accustomed to that in her books. When she wrote this one, she hadn’t lost her skill at weaving a suspenseful story. No matter how small a reader might think of an incident is, there is a reason, and everything ultimately ties together.

Writing style, I rate The Shadow of Your Smile a two, storywise a four, rounded to three for review purposes.


My Review

Rating: 4 out of 5.

After reading and being disappointed in one of Mary Higgins Clark’s later books, I decided to revisit Stillwatch. I first read it back in the 1980s and recall it being one of my favorites. Reading it again validated my thoughts and made me realize why she was one of my favorite authors.

Pat Traymore is a successful reporter who has just landed a job with a major cable news network. Her first assignment is to do a story on Senator Abigail Jenkins who is a leading candidate to replace the ailing Vice-President.

Pat, whose birth name was Kerry, had a tragic past. Both her parents died, and it’s long been believed her father, a U S Congressman, murdered her mother before turning the gun on himself. Not only that, Pat, (Kerry) was severely injured, was in a coma for months, and suffered memory loss. To publicity hounding her for the rest of her life, Pat’s grandmother put out the word that Kerry died. In reality, her aunt and uncle adopted her and changed her name.

Pat moves into the Georgetown home where she lived as a young child. She has begun to have memories of that tragic night and hopes to learn the truth of what happened. As Pat uncovers more about the senator’s past, she discovers a link to her own family.

But returning to Washington has placed her in danger. Someone doesn’t want her to do the Jennings story and she begins receiving threatening notes. Will she be able to uncover the truth before it’s too late?

The book is well-paced, the characters well-developed, and the suspense is true Higgins Clark. I also enjoyed reading a book that was written and set in a simpler time.

Death of a Legend #ThursdayThoughts

I’ve written about Mary Higgins Clark before. I came across her first suspense novel, Where Are The Children in the late seventies and was hooked. In a recent post, I named some of my favorite novels written by her.

So, I was saddened to learn the Queen of Suspense passed away on January 31 at the age of 92 from complications of old age.

Not only did I enjoy reading her books, but she also inspired me as a writer. Here are a few things about her.

  • Each of her fifty-six novels have become best sellers
  • There are over 100 million copies of her books in print
  • She remained with the same publisher, Simon & Schuster, her entire writing career
  • Like many authors, she had numerous rejections before her first novel was accepted for publication, but she never gave up.

I could write more, but I’ll let you listen to her own words. I think they will inspire you. She is a testiment to the fact we should never give up our dreams.

Old Favorites #TuesdayBookShare

Hey, everyone. Since I’m still busy writing, and haven’t had time to read a lot the past month, I decided today I would share three books by one of my all-time favorite authors.

Sometime in the late 1970’s, I was in a book store with my brother. He and I often made trips to the mall. Most often, we only went into two places – Hasting’s Records and B. Dalton Books. We were always looking to add to our collections of music and books.

Most often, I perused the fiction section. One evening a title caught my eye. Where Are the Children?

It sounded interesting, so I pulled the book from the shelf and looked at the cover. On it was a house with a sloped yard leading down to a body of water. Storm clouds hovered on the horizon. But the thing that caught my attention was a single red mitten lying on the ground. I read the back cover:

Where Are The Children

Nancy Harmon had been found guilty in a California court of murdering her two young children, but she was released from prison on a legal technicality. Deciding to make a fresh start, to change her identity, she left San Francisco and sought tranquillity on Cape Cod.

Seven years later, Nancy is remarried and has two small children: five-year-old Michael and three-year-old Missy. Finally she feels that she has been able to reclaim all that she had lost. Then the nightmare begins again.

One day a local Cape Cod paper runs an article about a famous California murder trial involving a mother accused of killing her two children. Along with the article is a photo of Nancy. On that same morning, Michael and Missy disappear. They had been playing in the yard, but when she looked for them, they were gone…all that remained was Missy’s red mitten.

While Nancy becomes the prime suspect in the disappearance of her children, no one in the small Cape Cod town is aware of a stranger in their midst — someone whose plans for revenge have been festering for seven long years.

I purchased the book, took it home, and found it difficult to put down. From then on, I was hooked, always looking forward to her next release. Here are a few more of favorites:

Moonlight Becomes You

Set in Newport, Rhode Island, in a world of old money and proud names, Moonlight Becomes You has at its center Maggie Holloway, an independent young woman who has put personal tragedy behind her and become one of the fashion world’s most successful photographers.
Accompanying her date to a party in Manhattan — a kind of family reunion for the Moore clan of Newport — Maggie is reunited with a woman who had once been her stepmother and who remains one of her fondest childhood memories. Nuala Moore is equally thrilled to see Maggie, and the two quickly get beyond old pains and resume their friendship.

Nuala, now widowed, invites Maggie to visit her in Newport, and when Maggie readily accepts, Nuala plans a dinner for a group of friends so they can meet her long-lost stepdaughter. But when Maggie arrives, she finds Nuala dead, the victim of an apparently random break-in and robbery.

Maggie is heartbroken at the loss and further stunned when she learns that, only days before her death, Nuala had changed her will and left her charming Victorian house to her stepdaughter, the only proviso being that Maggie occasionally visit an old friend, Greta Shipley, who lives in Latham Manor, an elegant retirement home in Newport.

It is when she accompanies Mrs. Shipley to the cemetery to visit Nuala’s grave, as well as those of other friends Mrs. Shipley has recently lost, that Maggie discovers that something is wrong. Using her skills as a photographer to aid her in uncovering the secrets hidden on the gravesites, she soon realizes that Nuala’s death may not have been a random killing at all but rather part of a diabolical plot conceived by a twisted and unfeeling mind.

Suddenly it becomes all too apparent to Maggie that Nuala’s killer must have been someone she trusted completely. Then, when Greta Shipley dies virtually without warning of supposedly natural causes, Maggie becomes convinced that there is a connection between these two and other recent deaths among the older women of Newport.

What Maggie doesn’t realize is that she has become a target for the killer as well and that each clue she uncovers brings her closer and closer to a shocking and unimaginable fate.
With a sense of swiftly mounting danger, and with the skill and insight into human nature that have made all Mary Higgins Clark’s books major bestsellers, Moonlight Becomes You is enthralling suspense.

Remember Me

A killer turns a young family’s dream holiday into an unfathomable nightmare.

Menley Nichols and her husband, Adam, a criminal attorney, rent a house on Cape Cod, in the hope of restoring their faltering marriage. The birth of their daughter, Hannah, has revitalized their relationship, but Menley has never stopped blaming herself for the accidental death of her two-year-old son. The serenity of the Cape promises a new start.

In Remember House, an eighteenth-century landmark with a sinister past, strange incidents force Menley to relive the accident that killed her son, and she begins to fear for Hannah’s safety. Then Adam takes on a client suspected of murder when his wealthy young bride of only three months drowns in a storm — and the family is drawn into a rising tide of terror. A confrontation on a dark, rain-swept beach leads to a harrowing climax that only Mary Higgins Clark could have created.

I’ll Be Seeing You

The murdered woman could have been her double. When reporter Meghan Collins sees the sheet-wrapped corpse in a New York City hospital, she feels as if she’s staring into her own face. And Meghan has troubles enough already without this bizarre experience.

Nine months ago, her much-loved father’s car spun off a New York bridge. Now, investigators are saying that there’s no trace of his car in the river, and they suspect he faked his own death. With frightening speed, links start to appear between Meghan’s father and her dead lookalike.

Meghan may be in danger herself, but she’s determined to find the truth to the mystery. In a nightmare journey spiraling from New York to Connecticut to Arizona, Meghan finds that the truth can sometimes be deadly.

I haven’t read any of her recent work, but at the age of ninety-one, she’s still writing. Some of her latest books are co-authored. Since 1975, she’s written a total of fifty-one books, all of which have become bestsellers. Where Are the Children is now in its seventy-fifth printing.