Mary Higgins Clark

Like Hitchcock, Clark has always enjoyed taking an ordinary person and placing them in highly threatening situations. Her clean-cut, fast-moving style allows her pared-down narratives to move with a dizzying pace.

Where Are the Children (with its supernatural over-tones) from 1975 is the sharpest of her earlier books, but A Stranger in Watching (1978) and The Cradle Will Fall (1980) showed a quantum leap in terms of assurance and skill. The first has as unusual a psychopathic villain as ever chilled a reader’s blood, and in the later book, Clark’s well drawn heroine, county prosecutor Katie De Maoi, finds herself at the mercy of a doctor who has been curing women of infertility - but may be far less altruistic than he seems. Since then, Clark has been single-minded in her refusal to repeat herself, and 1997’s My Gal Sunday sports a fine husband-and-wife team of sleuths in Harry and Sunday Britland.

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