Revisiting Mary Higgins Clark: A Critical Companion

By Linda De Roche | Go to book overview

2
Writing to Form: Mary Higgins
Clark and the Conventions of
Suspense

Without a doubt, Mary Higgins Clark knows how to weave a tale of mystery and suspense. For more than twenty-five years—since the publication in 1975 of her first suspense novel, Where Are the Children?, she has been perfecting a formula that keeps readers turning the pages of her tales of plucky heroines who overcome menace and danger by the force of both their wits and their will. Each year fans count on a new Clark novel of suspense, and she never disappoints them. In fact, she has recently begun to write tales of Christmas suspense and has also created a new team of sleuths in her 1996 collection My Gal Sunday. While her novels continue to give readers just what they have come to expect, they seem anything but formulaic because Clark manages to invent enough twists of plot and character to make each uniquely compelling. In each as well she quietly continues to explore the forces of disorder in contemporary society and to reassert the stabilizing effect of traditional human values.

When Clark began her writing career, as her failed biographical novel about George Washington makes clear, she had not yet discovered the genre that would suit her talents. In fact, she confesses, “I hadn’t the faintest idea that I could write suspense” (“Always a Storyteller” 10). Clark, however, had been educated in the genre by Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Mary Roberts Rinehart, and Charlotte Armstrong, some of its masters. Her own reading, in other words, had prepared her to write suspense novels. She had internalized the genre’s conventions, or tradi-

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Revisiting Mary Higgins Clark: A Critical Companion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Foreword ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • 1 - The Plot of Her Story 1
  • 2 - Writing to Form- Mary Higgins Clark and the Conventions of Suspense 11
  • 3 - Clark the Storyteller 25
  • 4 - Christmas Suspense 37
  • 5 - Moonlight Becomes You (1996) 55
  • 6 - Pretend You Don’t See Her (1997) 69
  • 7 - You Belong to Me (1998) 85
  • 8 - We’Ll Meet Again (1999) 99
  • 9 - Before I Say Good-Bye (2000) 111
  • 10 - On the Street Where You Live (2001) 125
  • 11 - Daddy’s Little Girl (2002) 141
  • Bibliography 157
  • Index 163
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