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Just Take My Heart
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Just Take My Heart

3.8 200
by Mary Higgins Clark

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In her new thriller, America's #1 bestselling Queen of Suspense delves into a legal battle over the guilt or innocence of a man accused of murdering his wife. Woven into her plot is an eerie, little-understood but documented medical phenomenon -- the emergence of a donor's traits and memories in the recipient of a heart transplant.

Natalie Raines, one of


In her new thriller, America's #1 bestselling Queen of Suspense delves into a legal battle over the guilt or innocence of a man accused of murdering his wife. Woven into her plot is an eerie, little-understood but documented medical phenomenon -- the emergence of a donor's traits and memories in the recipient of a heart transplant.

Natalie Raines, one of Broadway's brightest stars, accidentally discovers who killed her former roommate and sets in motion a series of shocking events that puts more than one life in extreme peril.

While Natalie and her roommate, Jamie Evans, were both struggling young actresses, Jamie had been involved with a mysterious married man to whom she referred only by nickname. Natalie comes face to face with him years later and inadvertently addresses him by the nickname Jamie had used. A few days later, Natalie is found in her home in Closter, New Jersey, dying from a gunshot wound.

Immediately the police suspect Natalie's theatrical agent and soon-to-be-ex-husband, Gregg Aldrich. He had long been a "person of interest" and was known to have stalked Natalie to find out if she was seeing another man. But no charges are brought against him until two years later, when Jimmy Easton, a career criminal, suddenly comes forward to claim that Aldrich had tried to hire him to kill his wife. Easton knows details about the Aldrich home that only someone who had been there -- to plan a murder, for instance -- could possibly know.

The case is a plum assignment for Emily Wallace, an attractive thirty-two-year-old assistant prosecutor. As she spends increasingly long hours preparing for the trial, a seemingly well-meaning neighbor offers to take care of herdog in her absence. Unaware of his violent past, she gives him a key to her home...

As Aldrich's trial is making headlines, her boss warns Emily that this high-profile case will reveal personal matters about her, such as the fact that she had a heart transplant. And, during the trial, Emily experiences sentiments that defy all reason and continue after Gregg Aldrich's fate is decided by the jury.

In the meantime, she does not realize that her own life is now at risk.

A compelling novel that probes the mysteries of the human heart and mind, Just Take My Heart is Mary Higgins Clark's most spellbinding tale.

Editorial Reviews

According to Mary Higgins Clark, her novels sprout naturally: "The basic storyline comes first; the main character is next; and then the plot develops." The process sounds simple and critics continue to be tricked by her supposedly formulaic methods, but readers know better. The reigning queen of American suspense continues to spin tightly wound fictions can keep us happily entangled until the very last page. Just Take My Heart is no exception; it's a spellbinder.
Publishers Weekly

Perhaps overcompensating for her lethargic renderings of other Higgins Clark thrillers (e.g., Where Are You Now?), Jan Maxwell picks up pace smartly. The narration is a shade frenetic in the beginning, as Maxwell breathlessly introduces the key players (the murdered actress, Natalie Raines; her husband-and chief suspect-Greg Aldrich; assistant prosecutor Emily Wallace; and her serial killer stalker, Zach Lanning) in an overly upbeat chirp. The quick tempo works better as the plot slogs through procedural matters. All of the men, however, sound too much alike and the women's voices also blur at key points. These flaws aside, this audio book proves entertaining summer listening. A Simon & Schuster hardcover (Reviews, Mar. 30). (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
An assistant prosecutor trying the biggest case of her life doesn't realize that the victim she's hoping to avenge isn't the only damsel in distress. Fifteen years after her actress roommate Jamie Evans was strangled in Central Park, Broadway sensation Natalie Raines has the awful experience of meeting and recognizing her killer. Hours later, Natalie is shot to death herself. But Bergen County prosecutor Ted Wesley, who never called Jamie's murder anything but a robbery gone bad, fails to connect the two crimes. Instead, he indicts Gregg Aldrich, Natalie's estranged husband and former agent. The most damning (and virtually the only) testimony against Gregg comes from career burglar Jimmy Easton, who bargained down the sentence for his latest job in return for a story about Gregg offering to pay him $25,000 to kill Natalie. Jimmy should be a terrible witness, but he isn't. So even though Michael Gordon, the Courtside TV host who's kept an ominous distance from his old friend in the weeks leading to the trial, runs a series of informal polls that indicate that nearly half the TV audience thinks Gregg is innocent, things look a lot blacker for the defendant in the courtroom. Emily Wallace, the assistant prosecutor Wesley has assigned to the case, wonders if Gregg is guilty after all. Although she doesn't know it, Emily has much bigger problems to deal with. Her solicitous neighbor Zach Lanning is actually Charley Muir, who vanished after killing his wife's family in Iowa and now has his eye on Emily. The closer Emily gets to nailing Natalie's murderer, the closer a second, unrelated murderer is getting to nailing her. Clark (Where Are You Now?, 2008, etc.) handles the courtroom scenescapably, and fans will be as excited as ever coming down the home stretch. It's a shame that the climax awaiting them is the most strained and silly the bestselling author has ever fobbed off on her devoted readers.
From the Publisher
“Intense . . . the action hurtles to a surprising resolution.”
—Publishers Weekly

“A must-read for mystery enthusiasts.”
—Tucson Citizen

“Fans will be as excited as ever coming down the home stretch.”
—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)

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Read an Excerpt


It was the persistent sense of impending doom, not the nor'easter, that made Natalie flee from Cape Cod back to New Jersey in the predawn hours of Monday morning. She had expected to find sanctuary in the cozy Cape house that had once been her grandmother's and now was hers, but the icy sleet beating against the windows only increased the terror she was experiencing. Then, when a power failure plunged the house into darkness, she lay awake, sure that every sound was caused by an intruder.

After fifteen years, she was certain that she had accidentally stumbled upon the knowledge of who had strangled her roommate, Jamie, when they were both struggling young actresses. And he knows that I know, she thought -- I could see it in his eyes.

On Friday night, he had come with a group to the closing night of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Omega Playhouse. She had played Blanche DuBois, the most demanding and satisfying role of her career to date. Her reviews had been wonderful, but the role had taken its emotional toll on her. That was why, after the performance, when someone knocked on the door of her dressing room, she had been tempted not to answer. But she had, and they all crowded in to congratulate her, and out of nowhere she recognized him. In his late forties now, his face had filled out, but he was undoubtedly the person whose picture was missing from Jamie's wallet after her body was found. Jamie had been so secretive about him, only referring to him as Jess, "my pet name for him," as she put it.

I was so shocked that when we were introduced, I called him "Jess," Natalie thought. Everyone was talking so much that I am sure no one else noticed. But he heard me say his name.

Who do I tell? Who would believe me? My word against his? My memory of a small picture that Jamie had hidden in her wallet? I only found it because I had lent her my Visa card and I needed it back. She was in the shower and called to me to get it out of her wallet. That was when I saw the picture, tucked in one of the compartments, behind a couple of business cards.

All Jamie ever told me about him was that he'd tried his hand at acting and wasn't good enough, and that he was in the middle of a divorce. I tried to tell her that was the oldest story in the world, Natalie thought, but she wouldn't listen. She and Jamie had been sharing an apartment on the West Side until that terrible morning when Jamie was strangled while jogging early in Central Park. Her wallet was on the ground, her money and watch were missing. And so wasthe picture of "Jess." I told the cops that, she thought, but they didn't take it seriously. There had been a number of early-morning muggings in the park and they were sure Jamie just happened to be one of the victims, the only fatal victim, as it turned out.

It had been pouring through Rhode Island and Connecticut, but as Natalie drove down the Palisades Parkway the rain steadily lessened. As she drove farther down, she could see that the roads were already drying.

Would she feel safe at home? She wasn't sure. Twenty years ago, after being widowed, her mother, born and raised in Manhattan, had been happy to sell the house and buy a small apartment near Lincoln Center. Last year, when Natalie and Gregg separated, she heard that the modest house in northern New Jersey where she'd been raised was for sale again.

"Natalie," her mother warned, "you're making a terrible mistake. I think you're crazy not to try to make a go of your marriage. Running back home is never the answer for anyone. You can't recreate the past."

Natalie knew it was impossible to make her mother understand that the kind of wife Gregg wanted...


Meet the Author

The number one New York Times bestselling author Mary Higgins Clark has written thirty-five suspense novels; four collections of short stories; a historical novel, a memoir, two children's books, and most recently partnered with Alafair Burke to collaborate on a new series: The Under Suspicion novels. With her daughter Carol Higgins Clark, Clark has co-authored five more suspense novels. Her books are international bestsellers with more than one hundred million copies in print in the United States alone.

Brief Biography

Saddle River, New Jersey and New York, New York
Date of Birth:
December 24, 1929
Place of Birth:
New York, New York
New York University; B.A., Fordham University, 1979

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Just Take My Heart 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 200 reviews.
NinnyJC More than 1 year ago
I have to disagree w. previous reviewers and say that I couldnt get thru this book. The storyline centers around the Gregg Aldrichs who is accused of murdering his wife and the life of the prosecutor who has a stalker she is unaware of~Sounds great but the book doesnt deliver! Too many unbelievable storylines,characters, and details that fill the book unneccesarily (such as the emergence of a donor's memories in the recipient of a heart transplant). I jumped around to see the outcome, realizing how the climax left you hanging w/ an unbelievable silly ending...The court room drama is completely different style for the author and I hope she doesnt continue to write these types of books~I want the old Mary Higgins Clark writing style back-just a great who-dunnit
Digging_the_Dancing_Queen More than 1 year ago
Just like all her previous novels, I was floored at how several strings of plot that seemed to have nothing to do with each other all ended up fitting together like puzzle pieces at the end. Her characters are top-notch, as usual, and she just tells a great, fast-paced story. I won't say anymore in case of spoilers, but if you're a fan, just read it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a loyal reader of MHC and feel she has developed much better plots than this one.
EGHunter01 More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful novel. As usual Mary Higgins Clark has come through with another page-turner. The characters, story line, and descriptions draw you right in and keep you guessing what will be next. There are so many suspects to choose from and several sub-plots to keep you on your toes. And of course the main suspect is "hidden" but very close to the main character's "heart." If you enjoy Mary Higgins Clark's body of work you will not be disappointed. If this will be your first "encounter" with her work you will look forward to reading more. Each time I finish one of her novels I look forward to the next one. Enjoy this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Once again Mary Higgins Clark has written a great book. I look forward to April every year so I can order her newest release and she has yet to disappoint me. If you love her you will love this book, if you never read her work you should start!!
4757 More than 1 year ago
I have read every one of MHC's books and find it hard to believe that she would use another author's idea for a book. I find Mary Higgins Clark is a wonderful author and look forward to all of her books.
mystery2me More than 1 year ago
I've always looked forward to MHC's books. Usually, I can count on being pulled into the story from the start and don't want to put it down until I've finished it. I share my copy with at least five other people who love her books, too. Unfortunately,"Just Take My Heart" was extremely disappointing to me. It was disjointed and seemed to leave out a lot of important information. For starts, the whole side-plot about Emily having a heart transplant was totally under-developed and the multiple references to her husband's death in combat should have been better developed. Zach -- the creepy neighbor -- was just a red herring? Come on, Mary, what are the chances of someone knowing two unrelated serial killers? Highly unlikely! And it would have been nice to learn more about the murder of Natalie's friend/roommate, which set the stage for her own murder years later. I made myself finish the book, but I felt totally betrayed by its lack of cohesiveness and quality writing. This may be the last MHC I read and I will definitely NOT recommend it.
Bubs27 More than 1 year ago
MHC brings me into her books as soon as I open them. I love her way with words. Can't wait for the next one.
patricia63 More than 1 year ago
I had the privilege to have my book signed by Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter at a Manhattan Barnes and Noble for the promotion of "Just take my heart", and "Cursed". It was a real treat to meet them, they are lovely ladies. Mary Higgins Clark is always a delight to read, I'd like thank her to keep writing and look forward for the next one !
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not nearly as good as her earlier works. Boring.
Charli More than 1 year ago
She writes well. I keep trying to guess who did it. I still come up wrong. If you enjoy mysteries, this is a book for you. Her daughter and her have three Christmas mysteries. I recommend them all. Sorry, I couldn't think of all their titles.
Marilyn1946 More than 1 year ago
I truly love all the hours of entertainment I received from her novels. I look forward to each and everyone of her books and I do not lend them out because I have each and every one of them. My Mother so enjoyed reading her as she has such a way of getting you right away and then I can't put the book down until I finish it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a very good entertaining book. Even my husband read this book and enjoyed it. He didn't even guess about the ending and said that it was pretty good.
NoOneFan More than 1 year ago
I have read all her books and enjoy her, but she needs to spice up the characters and the plots. This one is predictable. I am sorry i bought it in hard copy. Definitely something I would want in paperback.
Zoe-Marley More than 1 year ago
Here again, predictable, Love Mary Higgins Clark, with her sub plots. this one however was not real deep like some I have enjoyed.
MistressLisa More than 1 year ago
I absolutely LOVE Mary Hggins Clark, but I think she met her prime some time ago. Her last several books have been predictable and somewhat boring. She has never recaptured the glory of "Where are the Children" and "All Around the Town". I will continue to purchase her books, but will wait for the paperback version. Just take my Heart started with a twist, but after the 3rd chapter, was just so-so. If you are looking for something that doesn't require a lot of energy, go to the library and check out "Just Take My Heart". If you are looking for something more juicy, pick up Lisa Gardner, Erica Spindler, or Karen Rose. Mary Higgins Clark has some stiff competion.
sandymi More than 1 year ago
It was a good beach read but not her best book writing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another good story from the great Mary Higgins Clark. Always suspenseful and entertaining. Looking forward to the next one.
Mauriah More than 1 year ago
I just finished this book and I'm sitting here on this site looking for something else of hers to buy. She always gets me and this time was no different. The characters, the plot, the whole story just kept me wondering. A wonderful read!
teachermomCL More than 1 year ago
Just Take My Heart is a classic Clark- Thrilling and fast paced- without gore. The title and book cover implies it has to do with a character's heart transplant but . . .it really doesn't. All in all a good read for Clark fans
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like MHC's other books than this one will be no different. It is another thriller that will have you turning the pages faster than you thought. If you have yet to read any of her other best-sellers, than this would be a good one to start with.
Alla_S More than 1 year ago
A celebrity of the literary world, Mary Higgins Clark, has woven a new tale of suspense involving the murder of successful Broadway actress Natalie Raines. Prior to her murder, Natalie accidentally identifies the suspected murderer of her actress roommate Jamie Evans as one of the guests congratulating her on her performance after the show. Unconsciously, she calls him "Jess," the pet name Jamie referred to him by during their relationship all these years ago and whose photograph Natalie still remembered-that same photograph that was stolen from Jamie's wallet after her unsolved murder. Shortly thereafter, Natalie is brutally murdered herself and the prime suspect becomes her estranged, theatrical agent husband Gregg Aldrich who previously stalked his wife and has a dubious alibi. He cannot remember where he was when Natalie was murdered, and his amnesia as well as previous spying on Natalie casts doubt on his role in the tragedy. As the court proceedings against Gregg begin, the stakes are high. The gorgeous assistant prosecutor Emily Wallace is soon in danger of being murdered herself, a dangerous serial killer is lurking on the loose, the star witness in Aldrich's trial is hiding something, and a detective involved in the investigation is acting suspiciously. The chapters are short and easy to read, as the suspense escalates up until the very end. Clark's writing is effortless and her plot certainly rivals Grisham's legal thrillers, while her characters-the grief-stricken single parent husband in danger of receiving a life sentence in jail, a TV host colleague torn between his job and personal friendship with the defendant, the heartbroken mother of the murdered actress, a convict willing to do anything to shorten his prison term, a psychologically troubled killer on the run, a scared couple whose information can turn the entire case around, and a lonely prosecutor with a personal tragedy-are hunting and memorable long after the last page has been read. While the fictitious celebrity life of Natalie Raines is not widely explored despite being the center of the court case, real life tragedies of celebrity lives cut short spring to mind as Clark exposes the flawed U.S. justice system for what it is. Evidence can get tampered, witnesses can be manipulated, jury can condemn the wrong party, lives are unnecessarily put at risk, and the powerful forces driving the trial are sometimes hidden behind the curtain instead of present in the courtroom. What Clark leaves us with is a portrait of the current state of events, reminiscent of the daily newscasts, where personal safety is frequently compromised and anyone is in danger of becoming Natalie Raines or Emily Wallace-a puppet in the hands of forces more powerful and well-connected than themselves, as lives hang by a thread and no one is what they seem.
witchmoon More than 1 year ago
The plot of this book sounds very similar to Dean Koontz's "Your Heart Belongs to ME". In his book, a heart transplant patient believes he is being haunted by his donor. I usually love MHC but it seems strange she would have this come out so soon after the Koontz book.
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