By Ekta R. Garg
May 18, 2011
Rated: Borrow it
Despite my deep passion for books, I consider carefully where my literary dollars go. In this increasingly digital age, I still prefer a hardback to a Kindle. So when I buy a book I’m really buying a book, and I don’t spend so easily. If I’m reading a book by an author new to me, I’ll get it from the library first so I don’t waste precious resources on something I may not like later.
Having said that, there a couple of authors whose books I know I can buy without reading them first. Mary Higgins Clark is one such writer. Her sense of story and mystery is amazing; I’m often up late at night trying to force my eyes to stay open just long enough to read one more chapter. She may be in her mid-80s, but she’s got enough zing left yet to keep readers turning pages.
I also appreciate her restraint. She doesn’t use four-letter words and explicit sex scenes; you may call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my stories that way (which is why I write that way too.) She’s living proof that you don’t need those things to tell a compelling story.
Her latest novel, I’ll Walk Alone (released just last month,) resonates with her trademarks of good storytelling and clean language. In it Alexandra “Zan” Moreland is an up-and-coming Manhattan interior designer struggling to rebuild her life after the abduction of her son two years earlier. As Zan forces herself to come to terms with her little boy’s impending birthday, she quickly realizes her life is starting to spiral even more out of control.
Someone has begun making outrageous charges to Zan’s credit cards, and just as she begins trying to figure out who a startling revelation surfaces: the media and law enforcement officials receive pictures that seem to show Zan kidnapping her own son from Central Park. Zan quickly finds herself in a defensive position as even her closest friends and supporters start questioning whether she could have committed the crime under the mental stress of a previous tragedy, but she manages to hang on to her tenuous belief that she is innocent and must find the real perpetrator.
Author Clark peppers her book with a strong group of possible suspects, but she doesn’t let anything slip until the end when she’s ready to reveal the real culprit. Even though her writing may be slightly clunky at times, it’s easy to gloss over those spots as she leads her readers from one possible scenario to another. Those strictly dependent on modern technology may wonder about things like why Zan’s laptop wasn’t acquired by the police and examined by computer experts to determine exactly when the fraudulent credit card charges were made. But Zan’s determination to find out what’s really going on gives readers another Mary Higgins Clark trademark: a strong leading woman who readers can cheer for.
In a Wall Street Journal interview just before the release of the book, Clark describes conversations she had with her publishing company Simon and Schuster about what might happen to her writing legacy when she dies. Despite the strong suggestions from professionals and family members alike, Clark resisted the idea of establishing a Mary Higgins Clark camp of writers who produce tales similar to hers and inspired by her writing. I admire her gusto and willingness to keep writing until the end, and as a long-time Mary Higgins Clark fan I can’t help but recommend this book as much for the story as for the amazing woman behind it.
What the ratings mean:
Bookmark it!–Read this book and then buy it and add it to to your own collection. It’s definitely worth it!
Borrow it–Check this one out from the library; it’s a worthy read, but think twice before spending your hard-earned money on it.
Bypass it–Free time is precious. Don’t spend it on this book!