Listen up, Mary Higgins Clark fans! To celebrate the release of her latest audiobook, Daddy's Little Girl, America's Queen of Suspense spent some time in the recording studio to discuss her wildly successful career, her inspirations, and, of course, her latest audiobook in a rare audio interview -- exclusive to Barnes & Noble.com!
Listen to the Barnes & Noble.com Exclusive Audio Q&A!
Writing in the first person a rarity for this veteran author has inspired and energized Clark. Her 21st novel of intrigue is her best in years, a tightly woven, emotionally potent tale of suspense and revenge. Clark's new heroine is Atlanta investigative journalist Ellie Cavanaugh, who was seven when her sister, Andrea, 15, was beaten to death by 20-year-old Rob Westerfield, scion of the wealthiest family in a small Westchester town. Now Westerfield is up for parole, so Ellie, now 30, returns home to speak out against him. When Westerfield is released, Ellie begins to write a book aimed at re-proving his guilt. Digging for evidence, she uncovers clues that Westerfield may have committed another murder as a youth, but that digging also enrages the Westerfields and other town members who think the man was railroaded. Before long, Ellie's life is in danger, as someone breaks into the house she's staying in, then later sets fire to it, nearly killing her, and as Westerfield himself begins to shadow her moves. What makes this novel work isn't only the considerable tension Clark teases from Ellie's precarious position, but the thoughtful backgrounding to the action. Ellie is cast as a lonely woman, without a lover and estranged from her father and half-brother: will she accept one or the other into her guarded life?; and she carries a heavy load of guilt for her sister's death, wondering at times if she is blinded by her thirst for vengeance. With its textured plot, well-sketched secondary characters, strong pacing and appealing heroine, this is Clark at her most winning. (On sale, Apr. 16) Forecast: One million first printing; main selection of the Literary Guild and BOMC, the Doubleday Book Club and Doubleday Large Print, and the Mystery Guild; all that, plus a fabulous green-toned jacket featuring a blood-stained locket on the front and a terrific photo of Clark on the back, add up to #1 with a bullet. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
At the parole hearing for Donald Waring, Trish Duncan begins to wonder whether he was wrongly convicted of killing her sister 20 years ago. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Clark's latest damsel-in-distress is a former child witness set against her teenage sister's convicted killer when he comes up for parole 23 years later. "Ellie is such a good kid. She's not a snitch," Andrea Cavanaugh told her friends when she brought her seven-year-old sister to the garage on the Westerfield estate they used as a hideout. The good kid's failure to tell her parents about the hideout when Andrea vanished on the way home from a friend's may have meant the difference between finding her alive or dead. Years later, the girls' mother has died of alcoholism, the father, who adored Andrea but ignored Ellie, has retreated into a second marriage, and Ellie has turned into an investigative reporter who wants nothing to do with him. But the news that Rob Westerfield, the spoiled rich kid her tearful testimony helped convict, is favored for parole brings her back from Atlanta to Westchester, where she attacks his family and their team of legal eagles with everything she's got, from a placard she carries at the Ossining train station offering her phone number to recently released prisoners with anything damaging to say about Rob to a Web site on which she posts each new discovery in her case against him. Even after 23 years, there are plenty of discoveries-the reasons Rob was dismissed from an exclusive prep school, the rumors that Andrea wasn't his first victim, the family's determined attempt to blame the crime on Andrea's special-needs classmate Paulie Stroebel-and each of them brings Ellie closer to long-anticipated danger. Less mystery, more raw pain, and a tough-cookie heroine who tells her own story make this a real departure for Clark (On the Street Where You Live, 2001,etc.), and one that carries more conviction than her usual glossy fantasies.
From the Publisher
Tulsa World After [more than 20] bestselling suspense novels, you might think Clark could not improve. You'd be wrong....A superb suspense story.
Boston Globe Clark doesn't let the reader off the hook until the very last word.
Read an Excerpt
Wherever Ellie went, she felt in the way. After the nice detective left, she tried to find Mommy, but Mrs. Hilmer said that the doctor had given her something to help her rest. Daddy spent almost all the time in his little den with the door closed. He said he wanted to be left alone.
Grandma Reid, who lived in Florida, came up late Saturday afternoon, but all she did was cry.
Mrs. Hilmer and some of Mommy's friends from her bridge club sat in the kitchen. Ellie heard one of them, Mrs. Storey, say, "I feel so useless, but I also feel as though seeing us around may make Genine and Ted realize they're not alone."
Ellie went outside and got on the swing. She pumped her legs until the swing went higher and higher. She wanted it to go over the top. She wanted to fall from the top and hit the ground and hurt herself. Then maybe she'd stop hurting inside.
It had stopped raining, but there still was no sun and it was cold. After a while, Ellie knew that it was no use; the swing wouldn't go over the top. She went back into the house, entering the small vestibule off the kitchen. She heard Joan's mother's voice. She was with the other ladies now, and Ellie could tell that she was crying. "I was surprised that Andrea left so early. It was dark out, and it crossed my mind to drive her home. If only..."
Then Ellie heard Mrs. Lewis say, "If only Ellie had told them that Andrea used to go to that garage that the kids called 'the hideout.' Ted might have gotten there in time."
"If only Ellie..."
Ellie went up the back stairs, careful to walk very quietly so they wouldn't hear her. Grandma's suitcase was on her bed. That was funny. Wasn't Grandma going to sleep in Andrea's room? It was empty now.
Or maybe they'd let her sleep in Andrea's room. Then, if she woke up tonight, she could pretend that Andrea would be coming back any minute.
The door to Andrea's room was closed. She opened it as quietly as she always did on Saturday mornings when she'd peek in to see if Andrea was still sleeping.
Daddy was standing at Andrea's desk. He was holding a framed picture in his hands. Ellie knew it was the baby picture of Andrea, the one in the silver frame that had "Daddy's Little Girl" engraved across the top.
As she watched, he lifted the top of the music box. That was another present he had bought for Andrea right after she was born. Daddy joked that Andrea never wanted to go to sleep when she was a baby, and so he'd wind up the music box and dance around the room with her and play the song from it, singing the words softly, until she dozed off.
Ellie had asked if he did that with her, too, but Mommy said no, because she was always a good sleeper. From the day she was born, she'd been no trouble at all.
Some of the song's words ran through Ellie's head as the music drifted through the room. "...You're daddy's little girl to have and to hold...You're the spirit of Christmas, my star on the tree...And you're daddy's little girl."
As she watched, Daddy sat on the edge of Andrea's bed and began to sob.
Ellie backed out of the room, closing the door as quietly as she had opened it.
Copyright © 2002 by Mary Higgins Clark