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Book Club

You Don't Own Me, By Alafair Burke and Mary Higgins Clark - Reviewed by C,C. Harrison

~Mary Higgins Clark readers know exactly what they are going to get. A warm toasty mystery from the first page to the last that's as recognizable as their favorite coffee mug and as comfortable as an old shoe.

The author has written nearly 40 books of women's suspense—what used to be called "women in jeopardy"—and after so many books, the bones of the stories have become fairly formulaic with plenty of warm fuzzies. A self-confident heroine, a genuinely loving couple, caring parents alive or deceased, a faithful housekeeper/nanny, excellent children, lovely homes, and as always a deep desire to see good prevail over evil.

And don't even think about getting between a Mary Higgins Clark fan and a Mary Higgins Clark book!

Her readers, many of whom have been with her since the publication of her first book in 1975, adore her. They will buy, read and love her books overlooking completely the occasional stilted dialogue, flimsy motivations, clichés and outdated slang, e.g., ginormous, and other head shakers.

But Mary Higgins Clark is the Queen of Suspense, and with over one hundred million books in print in the United States alone, many of them NYT and/or international best sellers, and 40 film and TV adaptations of her work, there's no arguing with success.

You Don't Own Me is book five of the Under Suspicion Series co-written with NYT bestselling author Alafair Burke. In this light mystery devoid of extremes of sex, violence or language, Laurie Moran is the producer of a TV show called Under Suspicion. The purpose of the show is to reinvestigate cold cases by inviting suspects and others involved to be interviewed on camera.

Laurie is approached by the parents of a murder victim, Dr. Martin Bell, asking her to feature their son's case on her show. Their goal is to win custody of their grandchildren by proving Martin's wife, Kendra, responsible for the killing.

Kendra, who has been under a veil of suspicion in the tabloids for the past five years, has previously declined to participate in the show, but now the Martins say she is ready.

Laurie agrees to take up the case, but finds that Kendra is not as enthusiastic to participate as the Martins led her to believe. But Laurie doesn't give up, and successfully pushes and pressures Kendra to change her mind:

"I know you're eager to get on with dinner," Laurie said, her own time constraints pulling at her patience. "I'll be blunt about why we're here. You told Martin's parents I was the one who declined your husband's case. That's patently false. It makes it look like you have something to hide . . ."

Laurie's reinvestigation uncovers a web of lies, secrets, cover-ups, clandestine meetings in dive bars, love affairs, jealousies, and a stranger watching from the shadows:

"On the opposite side of Pearl Street, a man watched the courthouse from behind the wheel of a white SUV. Forty-five years old, his hooded eyes incongruous in his chubby face, he spotted the group he was waiting for as soon as they walked outside."

Laurie is led into some dead ends along the way, but there are no real surprises for the reader. This is a quick easy read, occasionally giving the impression of having been jotted off in bits of spare time, which after more than 40 bestselling books might not be much of a stretch to imagine, and in no way diminishes its enjoyment. Most of the story minus the ending is told on the inside flap of the front cover.

And speaking of the ending, longtime avid fans in sync with the mind of Mary Higgins Clark won't miss the in-plain-sight identity of the killer early on.

Though the story is set in contemporary times—characters have cell phones and computers, and so on—it gives off a vague sensation at times of taking place in the fifties. Oddly, there are no surveillance cameras in or near a New York City bar where a plot turning assault takes place.

Fans will thoroughly enjoy this new book from Mary Higgins Clark, another can't miss hit!

~~Originally published in new york journal of books, the web's most comprehensive professional book review. Reviews of other books are available at: www.nyjournalofbooks.com

CLICK HERE to purchase book or copy URL into your browser: http://www.amazon.com?_encoding=UTF8&tag=wwwtos5com-20

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